(Dr. Abdul Ahad, 63, was born in Srinagar. He did his schooling from the Tyndale Biscoe Mission Srinagar, Fateh Kadal, and the Multipurpose Higher Secondary School, Bagh-i-Dilawar Khan, Fateh Kadal. Dr. Ahad received his bachelor’s degree from the Sri Pratap College, Srinagar, and his post graduate degree, and Ph.D. from the University of Kashmir. He started his career as a lecturer in history at the Amar Singh College, Srinagar, and went on to become Director, Archives, Archaeology, Museums, Research & Public Libraries, and retired as Commissioner Secretary to the J&K Government. He is an author of two books. The first book, “Kashmir to Frankfurt: A Study of Arts & Crafts,” was judged as the best book on Kashmir in the year it was published (1986-87). He has also written “Kashmir Rediscovered,” and has written articles on good governance. Dr. Ahad received the prestigious “Khilat-e-Mahjoo” award in 2010. He enjoys writing about the complex socio-cultural issues of Kashmir.)
What Makes A Charismatic Leader?
“Instrumental Leadership” (published recently in the Greater Kashmir), is a well-written article which has kicked off an important debate on issues of charismatic leadership. The debate is more relevant and vital in the context of Kashmir situation. Whether or not Kashmiri leaders fulfill the criteria historically recognized as prerequisite for becoming cream of the crop–a visionary, creative and energizing leader– seems to be the main endeavor of the debate to discern. It revolves round the premise that a charismatic leader is one who personifies all those merits that have been identified by David A Nadler and Michael L Tushan in their book: “Beyond the Charismatic Leader”. A product of painstaking research that speaks high of scholarly exertions of these political scientists, the book is in no way the first of its kind on the subject. As a matter of fact it is a laudable and meaningful attempt to recapitulate systematically what the great scholars have already contemplated and marked out, long, long ago, as main components of unadulterated, stimulating and genuine leadership.
The interest in understanding the issue of leadership—which they have rather rekindled now– was awakened by the intellectuals of yore centuries before the emergence of Nation States; actually at a time when the human Civilization hadn’t yet made many strides and was still in its embryonic form on its way forward struggling hard to reach the acme of excellence. The foremost among them were Aristotle and Plato who delved deep into the subject and subsequently gave the world the model of a flawless leader who possessed tremendous potential to lead people through thick and thin and represented a wonderful combination of self-discipline, hard-work and honesty and foresight. The model was, subsequently, elaborated and perfected by their successors; more distinctively by Ibn-Khaldun and Arnold Toynbee. The conclusions which these scholars of stature have drawn after studying various Civilizations, especially the five major civilizations of the world, are now making rounds in Western and Asiatic Societies, of course in an adapted form, through the publications of contemporary social scientists.
The picture of an ideal leader in his charismatic form is equally obtainable in Nilamatpurana; the earliest available source of historical information on Kashmir; a unique treatise that clearly sketches the picture of an ‘envisioning, energizing and ennobling’ iconic leader who was none other than NILA NAGA, the founder of Jhelum Valley Civilization that flourished on the banks of Veth or Vitasta. He was the first and foremost Kashmiri Patriarch of great consequences who with his unusual blend of intelligence, determination and character drove out of Valley’s womb the most dreaded people; the pretenders and imposters; the enemies of natives; and, thereby, laid the foundation of a safe and peaceful heaven on earth for human settlement. His moral substance and qualities of head and heart were so powerful, convincing, meticulous and ennobling that they inspired a galaxy of historical personalities like Avantiverman, Laltaditya, Budshah etc; to follow his footsteps and touch the peaks of glory, popularity and esteem. Thus by drinking deep of the intellectual ambience, furnished by this classic work on Kashmir, these leaders envisioned a prosperous, strong and peaceful Kashmir which they realized finally to lure a huge number of Central Asian Sufis and Scholars who settled here and enriched its ethos profoundly.
Alongside Nilmatapurana, Kalhana’s Rajatarangni , Vakhs of Lal Ded, Nund Rishi’s expositions and Shah-i-Hamdan’s Zakhirat-ul-Malook deserve to be equally credited for having widened the contours of the discourse on the qualities of leadership. The authors of these monumental works were the most innovative social engineers who had a strong urge to transform Kashmir by changing the outlook of its leadership. Their main thrust was on enlightenment which they believed is possible through the pursuit of knowledge; the attainment of moral ascendancy and; the rejection of arrogance: the qualities which the present “leadership” lacks so conspicuously and despises so amply and abhorrently. The watchword of their philosophy is an amalgam of: Vision, Virtue and Wisdom which is evidently absent among the contemporary “leaders”.
Lal Ded and Shiekh Noor-ud-din were prefect embodiment of these virtues that enabled them to become the genuine mass leaders; the legitimate people’s priests; the real harbingers of a great social change. The personal Charisma of these leaders continues to inspire every Kashmiri even after the passage of so many centuries. The quantum of esteem they are held in can only be gauged at Cherar-i-Sharief where an ocean of people is seen present to pay their homage. There is hardly anything that hasn’t received their attention: their repertoire encompasses everything from economics, politics, science, medicine, philosophy to environment; they have ably dealt with whatever came their way for rectification, renovation, restoration and innovation.
The insightful personality of these highly thought of leaders of bygone day’s immensely strengthened people’s faith in a bright tomorrow which they had envisioned for Medieval Kashmir. But after them no leader worth the name has so far appeared in the firmament of Kashmir to lead the people to their cherished goal.
Kashmir has yet to throw a leader who can deliver the way charismatic leaders have done to achieve their objectives. Not to talk of leaders like Gandhi—who is worth emulating and justifies the appellation of charismatic leader for his contributions and intrinsic merit that resonate even today to impact Indians to adopt Gandhi giri as a tool to fight injustice—even the likes of BAL Thakrey are unlikely to locate in its milieu. There is none to equal him in his traits: determination, dedication, allegiance to his motherland and anxiety for his people. Our environment is awfully weak to encourage the rise of such leadership. It is increasingly disposed towards cheering up a huge platoon of “leaders” who are easily comparable to proverbial Saed Makars. Their deceptive stratagems, dare devil stunts and dishonest dealings, which initially boost and botch us up with illusionary elixir of life ultimately make us disconsolate for our whole life. They are always on hunting spree to befool the common masses through their pretentions which quickly burst like bubbles or balloons within no time. Their motive is nothing but wealth, weapon and women.
Kashmir “leaders” are thriving on the agonies bequeathed to the masses of Kashmir by the partition for which both Nehru and Jinnah were responsible. Kashmiris are paying too heavily for their obstinacy, stubbornness and fierce political rivalries that struck a fatal blow to historic Indus Valley Civilization; fragmenting it to degenerate into an unprecedented bloodbath of innocent killings that finally gave birth to India, Pakistan, two Kashmir’s and Bangladesh– how many more pieces are likely to emerge on the map of the world God alone knows. Their unwise policies have trapped them in the quandary of Dispute that has practically besieged the entire South Asia with an intense existential angst. To escape the repercussions of this colossal historical wrong is not possible till it is amicably and justly rectified. Only Deedawars with enormous foresight and moral substance can lead the masses to throw off the shackles of servitude that is fortified, day in and day out, by none other than their own kiths and kin; the Local Sentries who uphold the tradition of guarding the colonial Cage religiously for their personal aggrandizement.
Such Deedawars do not come out of vacuum; they appear on the scene when the masses cease to listen to fakers; when they give up saying one thing and doing another; when they learn to shift the white from the black; when they shun their well-known receptiveness to fluctuations.
The people of Kashmir have to remake themselves to change their lumpish image that impels objective historians to portray them as big historical frauds; Soum Badzat Kashmiri.
Their inconsistencies, unsteady and ever-wavering attitude, disinclination to mend their ways, despite the multitude of tragedies they have gone through, are chief causes of their historical misfortunes, aberrations and humiliations. They need a dose of sweet nectar to defy their routine behavior.