“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

“We have nothing to offer except hartals”

Poorest people with lots of money

Mohammad Muneer Bhat

Long ago our part of the world had the distinction of being home to people who took pride in calling it peer waer and resh waer. The abode of legendary saints, seers, ascetics and great religious personasthat our land was, is witnessing a socio-cultural metamorphosis.

One falls short of words to express the meanest depths that we have sunk in. The brazen faced mockery we make of almost every activity social or public, speaks of the abyss of moral bankruptcy that we fell down to. Naked-materialism, sustentation, superficialities and a comfortable indifference to everything apart from ones’ self has become our hallmark. The macabre history of past twenty years has failed to wake us from the deep slumber.

Perhaps the greatest lesson of history is that people rarely learn from history. Our intellectuals falling prey to petty interests, our leaders changing stances to suit their personal agendas and our academics getting reduced to courtiers of elite gentry is commonplace.Bereft of ideals, national heroes and men of credible public image ultimately inculcated in our masses a sense of being second-raters and camp followers; the ones unlikely to succeed in any indigenous mass endeavour. We wait for proverbial Godots, saviours and liberators thinking we are Gods’ special creation while being neck deep in quagmire of misconduct in all our dealings. Calamities warn us and divine wrath falls on us but we seem to be too engrossed with our flimsy pursuits.

The sordid state of our society has made each one among us ready to die every moment for securing the so-called future. We are ready to gulp toxin of humiliation, suffer coup-de-grace and put to stakeour honour, image and all that is held lofty andprecious by peoples worth their salt.

We can sell ourselves to send our sons and daughters for professional training. We beg, borrow and steal to host gala parties over marriages, spend lavishly on building mansions that bring to fore our hubris much more than our aesthetic sense; we take pride in changing our cars and mobile phones to display arrogance. We feel elated at the shocking ‘dress-sense’ and fast mutating-demeanour of our women,that brings forth their paradox, trying to emulate and simulate the best and worst of East and West.

We have the dubious capability of buying all and anybody by selling our conscience. We have lost the Sense of Loss. Our politicians of left, right, and center have slogans and pranks to offer all the time. Offer them sops they start parroting HMV and withdraw them the manna to see the symptoms. Great years of effort will become Awara-gardi and sacrifices be termed as Saer – o –Tafrih in their parlance without any remorse. They would be better off as tricksters for they have miles to go before they learn leading the people.

Adventurism and experimentation cannot be termed as leadership. Perhaps we may revive our political struggle but what we are losing now is irretrievable. We are producing zombies, yuppies, drones and human clones, those who think of world as a virtual Xanadu for their hedonistic hang-ups. For them religion is ‘doing good’ and ‘enjoying’ life to the full by getting unlimited economic uplift by whatever means.

The sad irony is that our youth are stealthily being pushed towards a widening idea-logical chasm that blurs and confuses true religion with man-made ‘isms’ and hypotheses. All this is very comfortably presided and seen over by those who think their grandiloquent Friday sermons are making waves. What their poorly conceived sermons have sprouted is a class of people having their own obscure interpretations and explanations for forwarding a message of being different for the heck of it. In the process they polarize further the already charged up atmosphere, which projects religion to commoners as an extremist and uncompromising phenomenon, something that needs tremendous effort to practise, whilst it is quite the opposite. Our ancestors had no substantial riches but plenty of happiness for they possessed contentment, quitecontrary to us.

Down the ages, we gradually fell in to the habit of spoiling almost all the great traditions, arts, crafts and our culture and values that used to be our Unique-Selling-Point to the outside world. We as a nation were remembered as being hospitable, courteous, charactered and trustworthy. Our land abounded in kindness, forbearance and tolerance. We were the harbingers of exquisite creativity by our arts and crafts like paper-machie, namdas ,gabbas, carpets, wood carving, willow work, embroidery and shawls-that attracted people across Continents. The indigenous crafts were endless, for imagination and creativity of honest craftsman knew no limits. Our Saffron had the best brand rating while Apples grown here were termed the best.

Unabated greed, ruthless profiteering, covert public consent to corruption, contempt and humiliation for rectitude in public life, social sanction for materialism and endemic political uncertainty marred and besmirched our reputation. We began to pass off second-rated under the tag of ‘Kashmir-brand’. The results are as expected. We encouraged ‘parallel-trade’ trampling whatsoever that could promote fairness and competition. So blurred we have become that our people cannot think of any fair-trade; in fact fairness is the first causality in all our commercial activities. Second rated-ness is likeable and preferable for us probably because we have been fed with everything second rate, from electricity to bus commuting to politics.

Things have come to such a pass where our credibility is at its lowest ebb and nobody seems to take us seriously.Those of us who happen to don any important position think of themselves as embodiment of all virtue and are too engrossed with their idiosyncrasies. Narcissistic, brash and supercilious our public figures of whatsoever standing have kept themselves alive by gimmicks, rhetoric and downright mendacity. They have the knack of winning instant applause from crowd by hitting soft-targets, shooting sitting ducks and kicking dust over things that are practically of no consequence. De-emphasizing the core problems by underplaying them and simultaneously making common man’s life virtual-hell by propping up superfluous issues is their time-tested mantra. They take pride in offering ‘Tughlakian-novelties’ to people to get branded as great show-managers. Lack of vision ontheir part plays havoc with everything they undertake and yet they claim to be indispensable in the scheme of things. When would they take lessons in pragmatism and fathom the untold pangs and miseries of common man? We have no plans for thousands of orphans, widows and the serious societal problems that are sprouting because of them.

Our so-called leaders are silent spectators to the deepest depths of moral depravity our youth and destitute are being led-in the name of jobs and succor by known and unknown agencies. Our land has become a virtual hunting ground that abounds in cannon fodder for almost all types of voyeurisms. We have nothing but hartals to offer. Not many of us know that chicken and meat sellers in addition to rickshaw and sumo drivers make record sales on hartal days. Whom are we trying to befool by rushing to excursion spots to register our protest on hartal-days.

Unfortunate and poignant, generation after generation we are only taught to sell our Hereafter to make good our world and that of our progeny. We are taught to fall in line or else we would be in the line of fire. We are taught to fit ourselves in the larger scheme of things or we may be called misfits. We are taught to be austere but ostentation is likeable, to be just but favoritism is adorable, to be honest but meticulous dishonesty is an act of genius, to be sincere but hypocrisy is an art we must practice everywhere. We are taught to be religious but befooling Man and God is our best pastime. We take pride in sermonizing all the time but being bereft of any conviction and commitment is quite normal.

The list of our contradictions is like a malignant growth, one leading to other and so on . . . and yet we claim to be holier than the holiest creation of God. Alas! we may succeed in building our World, but at what price? Yes, this is our one line national emblem “We are the poorest people with lots of money”.

We are taught to fall in line or else we would be in the line of fire. We are taught to fit ourselves in the larger scheme of things or we may be called misfits. We are taught to be austere but ostentation is likeable, to be just but favoritism is adorable, to be honest but meticulous dishonesty is an act of genius.