Political realism needed
Published on March 10, 2017

The happenings in Kashmir during and since the last year’s summer unrest have once again necessitated and reinforced the need of realism in the separatist politics here. Honest analyses of their politics – take for instance, people’s participation in shutdowns and strikes called by them, now followed by visible lack of interest in heeding these calls -- underscores the need for a thorough review of strategies adopted by the separatist camp. Unrealistic and unreasonable defense of certain tactics without even acknowledging their repeated failures is like shutting eyes to the realities of life and politics. It is akin to refusing to accept, acknowledge and understand the politics of change and recognizing the world as it is. Indeed this has been the biggest shortcoming of the separatist politics in Kashmir – those at the helm are unable to appreciate the ever-changing nature and relativity of even the basic truths of politics.

A simple truth of political realism is that one has to begin from where one is. For this, one is required to break free of the web of illusions. The separatist leaders will do themselves and the people of Kashmir a lot of good if they start looking at the situation as it is and not as they want it to be. If they want to change the situation into what they think it should be like, they will have to work on the terms of the realities on the ground. And the reality is certainly different than the dream-stuff – it is not the gold dust of fantasy.

Besides the ‘Bijli, Sadak and Pani’ (electricity, roads and water) – the clichéd terms for governance, people also need food, they need medicines and whole lot of other things, including the education of their children. And for all these essentials and other supplementary services they need money. Money will come only when they are willing to, and able to work; and also when that profitable work is actually available to them. Even after having the money, they should be able to buy goods and services with it. Cutting the long talk short, it goes without saying that people have to be able to generate money and money has to be able to generate goods and services. All this requires a certain degree of calm and ‘normality’. No cause, howsoever pious it is, stands chance of sustained popular support if it does not appreciate people’s realities.

Kashmiri separatists, who have for long lost touch with the common people, must step out of their ivory towers to have a feel of life as it comes to the ordinary mortals day-in and day-out. Instead of relying just on the inputs of their immediate coterie of sycophants who only show them their ‘preferred world’ where they (leaders) believe themselves as always wise and right and all others naïve, wrong and evil, it’s time when the separatist leaders must take a plunge into the world of reality. They must see the world as it is – “an arena of power politics moved primarily by perceived immediate self-interests, where morality is rhetorical rationale for expedient action and self-interest”. Whether anybody likes it or not, reality has it that we are living in a world where political claims and slogans are made for the lofty aim of “the common good” and then acted out in life on the basis of “the common greed”! This holds true for every type and brand of politics – separatism included.

Once this chunk of Kashmiri leadership moves into the world of reality, they will begin to shed every fallacy. The prime illusion they need to rid themselves of is their conventional view that they are always right, always infallible; that, it is ‘my way or the highway!’ For realists, life is without the rhyme and reason or even shadow of order unless we approach it with the two key converses – “seeing everything in its duality helps us get dim clues of direction and what it’s all about”. It is in these contradictions and their incessant interacting tensions that creativity is born. They must realize that for every positive there is a negative. The 4000 years-old Chinese philosophy has this basic political wisdom – “there is nothing positive without its concomitant negative, nor any political paradise without its negative side!”

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