Jammu must be nuked

Ansh Chowdhari
At this crucial juncture when a chimera of ‘development’ has been unleashed in J&K, it becomes important to understand the motivations, howsoever stupid, engendering such conceptions on this scale. Notwithstanding the ideological moorings, a certain unassuming governing mechanism that incidentally was meant to characterize the post 370 era has essentially failed to take roots. It boggles my mind to see almost zilch representation of this UT at the top Governing Council under the LG. This has made them absolutely oblivious to the various issues that individuals have to face day in and day out. Take the case of the predicament of the young aspirants for JKPSI and FAA examinations. A carefully managed scam with a probable outsider intervention wreaked havoc on the hardworking youths of this UT, not to mention the trust deficit it has caused in the administration, that ostensibly banks itself on the Vikas Purush image of its head.
Bloated promises, speeches filled with hyperboles, and gloated messages, which otherwise reek of narcissism, clearly animate the present governance. Jammu, by being the ultimate punching bag, remains the ultimate aim for such depredations, essentially for two reasons. Firstly, Jammu is not politically mature. It has a certain composure and a laid-back attitude that thwarts any meaningful opposition of the powers that be. A sense of hard and fast loyalty has been drilled into its people, to an extent, that any act of protest is dissuaded, for that might cross the threshold of what ‘state’ considers to be a protest. Jammu feels the burden of hedging an apparent anti-national valley, where it strives, in a way, to balance out the occasional pent-up anger from the valley. Secondly, Jammu has an idee fixe with a conception of the state being in cahoots with Kashmir to decimate its position. These two dichotomous factors have generated a deep inferiority complex and has, in the process, created a symbolic dent in our collective consciousness.
When we see potholed roads, incomplete and encroached footpaths, encroached Nallahs, and dumps of garbage strewn across the city with impunity, then one is forced to ask if Kashmir is responsible for this too. To top this sordid state of affairs, a superimposed government that remains least connected to the people continues to peddle, unhindered a false sense of achievement. If I dare to draw an analogy here, then Jammu probably happens to appear as the molasses left after the sugarcane processing in a mill and I’m perhaps winedicated(vindicated) after witnessing this spurt of new wine shops in the city. Another case that buttresses my argument is the one of the recent flub in which the official verified Twitter handle of Ministry of Culture mentioned Basohli Paintings as Kashmiri crafts.
This again forebodes challenge that stares us right in our faces- the one of presenting Jammu as a unique mosaic of multitudes of cultural identities without entering into any game of one-upmanship with Kashmir, which this dispensation has been failing every single time. And nothing explicates this better than what Balraj Puri, from whence I draw a huge cache of my ideas, wrote in his book titled “Jammu A clue to Kashmir tangle’: “Jammu’s real hunger is for political power. Complaints about share in services, recruitment and development are merely symptoms of the underlying malaise. Unable to adequately share power, dominating opinion in Jammu has been campaigning by reducing the power of Kashmir by getting it transferred to Delhi”. Six decades down the line, the thinking has not changed much and Jammu in the process has lost its leverage, if it had any in the first place. The structural geography and the demography thereof have created subregional tendencies in the province which have, therefore, eschewed the possibility of any reliable pan provincial political activity. The sheer geographic luck (borrowed from Jared Diamond) that Jammu lacks has projected the province as dispersed, divided, ignorant, and its absolute erasure from the national consciousness to boot.
A careful assessment of our polity can reveal countless structures of malaise that have impactfully chipped away at the very fundamentals of our society. The increasing scourge of state abetted communalism and religious polarisation has created many schisms in our varied tapestry, and have, at the same time, dented our social stability. There appears to be a trend where we willy-nilly extrapolate some communal killings in Kashmir to whip up a frenzy in Jammu. Creating meaningful coalitions for manoeuvring political goals isn’t disturbing but using certain causal factors which arouse passions and that too in a sensitive state like ours create multiple insuperable barriers for the communities to intermingle and prosper. Hundreds and thousands of people take pride in the history of Dogra Rule but apparently, we never oblige those great ideals that they represented. A martial tradition that crossed the threshold of the Great Himalayas to create a formidable state represents not just the physical prowess but a statement of their vision and steadfastness. Jammu represented grit and diversity. It upheld the flame of courage and passion. It fought hard for the land and the people at large. Contrary to Orwellian perceptions of nationalism, Jammu anchored itself to India in the staunchest manner and sacrificed thousands of lives for that purpose without asking for anything in return.
Now in the end, I propose to say that centralisation of powers is not an answer to Jammu’s problems. The recent scam in local examinations have revealed that an unaccountable bureaucracy, howsoever efficient, can’t be a suitable match to the politicians’ acumen, for the latter have a constituency to cater to. Inspiring local leadership with resolute and vibrant ideas must take up the cudgels for Jammu. And if I may dare to venture into phrase-mongering, then I’d say that time has come for Jammu to be Nuked (Nurturing a careful knowledge-based identity creation and education thereof via local leadership). We must understand that Delhi is just a conduit that supplies us with the necessary constituent power and delegated responsibility. Ultimately, everything boils down to the leadership at the UT level which remains the first aid for many of the problems that plague us. The need is to smell the coffee and act (activate, communicate and transmit).