Jammu, Independence awaits!

Karanvir Gupta
They say when something gets old, it loses importance. I feel the same is happening with our emotion of celebrating Independence Day. Yet another holiday and even better if falls on a weekday. I wonder how so many brands and the latest in fad – the ecommerce biggies – offer Independence Dhamaka sales offer. That is another reason that we look forward to the day other than that we get to eat some pakwaan if it is being offered in our locality or being cooked at our homes. The traditions keep varying as you move nook and cranny of the country. One thing remains same, our oblivion towards the emotion called independence. But they also say, if something loses importance, it is eventually gone from our lives. I bet none of us want that.
You know the problem lies in the fact that we celebrate Independence Day and not The Independence. And this makes us forget all the effort and pain that went underneath to attain freedom. This sentiment reflects very much in the approach we have adopted in our lives. We have taken freedom way too personally. I should have facilities at my home and I should be let go without paying any tax. My house should be clean yet the road outside can lay dirty. I should have my business running and I am not bothered if the other two shops next to mine get closed. I should be doing my work, social contribution is for the NGOs. Imagine if 100 years before people had the same sentiment and thought process, we would have never attained freedom.
Unfortunately Jammu has fallen prey to this culture incorrigibly. We have Richer Citizens and A Poor Society. P.S. please do not take an offense. I am from Jammu too. Everytime there’s an uprising in Kashmir, we raise the issue of injustice being done to Jammu. Why do we even need that trigger. We all know that injustice is being done but there needs to be consistent effort to fight for it. Any movement for that matter needs two things to start with – initiative and economic empowerment. Sorry but we lack both.
We cannot rely completely on the initiatives taken by government. We as public need to make it seem so imperative that government has no other option but to support our efforts. I will quote some simple (ready silly) examples. Have you ever wondered that houses that appear uphill from the Tawi bridge are placed exactly like the ones in the Greece, yet no effort to beautify them! Have we ever thought that Raghunath Bazaar is no less than Piccadilly in London yet lays there like as always! Have we ever thought that flyovers are one of the best way to promote culture through wall paintings and depictions of History of Jammu and Kashmir as a state? But we are not sure where and who to throw these ideas! We lay there unaware and busy in our personal lives.
Unfortunately, there seems no direction with regards to infrastructure, rural-urban development. We have not seen any development making aggressive use of technology. I wonder how we even manage to live in such dynamic times with poor internet speeds. Recently I read the news of money being invested in phases towards the tourism sector in Jammu. Well, let us see what wonders does the musical fountains spread! But nobody is going to take any initiative as a whole, as a community. No wonder such an inward looking approach makes us weak at the state and the central level.
No movement will ever be complete without economic empowerment of societies. As a matter of fact money is never evenly distributed. The potbellied shahs of Jammu need to give in time and thought towards the overall development of Jammu. Because it is the economic clout that gives the communities a push to move. We stay silent on issues and concerns dreaded that our businesses are not affected. The root cause however is we do not stand united enough. We take freedom as a personal possession. Unfortunately so, it is not! Freedom is a collective achievement for the communities.
Certain groups in society behave strong or make more noise not because they are powerful enough but they know that the other groups are indifferent and will be silent much. And a state develops only when all the regions, ethnic groups progress in cohesion.
AIIMS, IIT and IIM – all coming up! These are like rays of hope amidst the clouds of insecurity and bad times. Let us make an effort that these institutes are made world class and contribute immensely towards the development of the region, the state and finally towards the nation. I strongly believe that once Education takes a lead, the times ahead are up for change. And this shall lead to development and true independence in current times.
For the times that have gone and come
This is our moment to toil and sweat
Putting together a brave show, as we have always done
And rejoicing the Independence in true sense.
(The writer is an IIM Shillong Alumnus.)