Monday, December 15, 2014

Tongue and Groove

My 2007 article very relevant to present political scenario in Kashmir!

The most common and ancient way of joining two pieces of wood is a tongue and groove joint. In ancient Kashmir wood had been one of the most popular building materials used for constructing both palaces as well as ordinary houses. Kalhana mentions lofty wooden houses as one the five most well known attributes of ancient Kashmir. Even in later period the Sher-e-Khas is reputed to have had even 14 storey high royal palaces. Budshah also built a lofty wooden palace Zain Dab which was a marvel of wooden architecture. The use of wood in ancient Kashmir was because of the extensive lush green forest cover the valley enjoyed in those times. Unfortunately we have ourselves destroyed this green gold of Kashmir. With the deliberate and calculated depletion of the forest cover, there has been a change in the use of building materials. This innovation in construction technology has also affected the use of wood. We do not now use tongue and groove joints in joining pieces of wood. We prefer external agents like nails and adhesives like fevicol! The loss of tongue and groove has also psychologically affected our political as well as social life. It has got totally disjointed and has gone virtually to pieces. The main reason for this has been mushrooming of egos, false pride, and jealousy. Right from day one of the ongoing freedom movement started in 1931, there has been a split at every stage. The parting of ways has been apparently for ideological reasons but in reality the under lying cause for every split has been a clash of egos. Humility and submission to truth seem alien to us. Each one of us wants to be a leader and not a follower. The result is that we have a leader in every nook and corner but hardly any dedicated followers. If the aim of all those struggling for last so many decades is to achieve the basic right of self-determination, then why do we have so many parties and factions of parties? It is simply because of the clash of egos. We are presenting ourselves to the adversary as an umpteen number of pieces of wood which he can scatter easily with a slight of his hand. If all these scattered pieces could be joined by tongue and groove joints which are easy to make without any external nails and adhesives, the result would be a one solid wooden block difficult to smash! The splitting seems to be a common trait of our character. It is visible in almost every activity. Every organisation, whether political, social, religious, and even sports starts with great zeal, enthusiasm, and fanfare but splits up after traversing hardly few steps. A friend wrote sometime back that two Kashmiris cannot walk even ten steps holding each others’ hand. There are dozens of parties and factions of parties led by dozens of leaders all professing to lead Kashmiris to ultimate salvation. It is said that in the face of adversity people have a tendency to unite and combine for their common survival. Not in Kashmir. Normally one expects splitting after reaching the goal for sharing the final fruits of struggle. However, we are splitting even before being anywhere near the goal. It seems illogical. Could it be only due to splitting streaks in our character or there is something more to it? One is inclined to believe that there are dozens of external agencies from both the sides interested in keeping the pieces apart. The reason is that none trusts Kashmiris. We do not even ourselves have faith in us! In the latest phase of our struggle which started in 1990, initially great unity was shown by one and all and a single united face was presented to both the local people as well as the outside world. However, the joints in the pieces did not last as these did not form tongue and groove joints and the pieces were scattered all over. Apart from inherent contradictions, our adversaries did a commendable job for their masters by splitting us beyond redemption. They continue to ensure that the pieces do not come together again no matter whatever the cost in men and material. Pitting one against the other is a game in which they have always excelled. One may even concede that in the given situation of conflict it is very difficult to give a united front when the adversary is bent upon going to any extent including liquidation of all potential leaders. It is a clash between two opposites. Mighty and the weak. However, what is wrong with the other stream? The main stream with local involvement. Again a clash of egos or rather clash of “families”. There are only two main stream regional parties claiming to represent the “true” aspirations of the people. According to them the aspirations of the people are within the existing external framework. They would like to get the people a place of honour and dignity within the present political parameters. But so far they have failed to achieve even this limited goal. Again the problem is their failure to complement each other. They are wasting their energies in confronting each other even though their professed goals are same. They present a perfect example of tongue and groove and should have normally joined long back. The differences are only of nomenclature. One is pleading for the restoration of the already agreed autonomy within the union which has been totally diluted over the years while as the other calls it the “self-rule” with an undefined external dimension. Both have an interesting composition contrasting with each other. One has a good ministerial material of old stalwarts but inconsistent and fickle minded leadership devoid of political acumen. The other has seasoned leadership with political sagacity but no substantive ministerial material. They have rather a collection of defectors. The two could fit in easily as a tongue and groove joint and become a formidable combination which would make our common adversary feel very uneasy. If only they would rise above the “family” and their egos, they could make a difference. By taking a united stand they could have easily got the suffering masses some interim relief till the other lot would put their act together. Do they have the sincerity and the urge to serve the people and heal their wounds? Yes, only to the extent of professing it for their own selfish goals. One would have thought that last 60 years of uncertainty which have made them go round in circles would have tempered them and made them realise the bleakness of the future. By all accounts both do not seem to have any future in the ultimate disposition of Kashmir. They still have a chance to change it if only they see the writing on the wall. It would be in their own interests to give up their hypocritical stances as well as mutual confrontation and come out openly in support of the true aspirations of the people. This will either make the other umpteen parties professing to be popular saviours of the people totally irrelevant or force them to coalesce like tongue and groove joints in wood to maintain their credibility. Either way it is the common people who will benefit from such an eventuality. Is there any one to take such a bold initiative? Usually this comes from the “Intelligentsia” but in our case unfortunately they are paralysed in a deep freeze! Someone or something needs to de-freeze them.

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