B L Saraf
Catchy one liners are raining thick and fast. What started as a trickle in May 2014 has turned into a spate, gushing down the terrain, unabated , gathering new accretions. It started with ” Achae Din” “Swatch Bharat” Made in India ” etc and, in 2020 , “Atamnirbhar Bharat “, ” Vocal for local “etc got added. In between, quite a few phrases of “macho ” intent slipped in. To the faithful, joined together, these one liners form a bouquet which has an aphoristic flavor and reveals PM Narendra Modi’s intention to better lot of the country men. To the opponents, however, it is just a packet of “Jumlaas “-hallow in substance and empty in promises- uttered only to grab attention. Politics, as is our wont, goes on.
As said earlier ,”Vocal for local ” is new addition to the bouquet. Apparently, this has been added to focus on providing job opportunities to the unorganized labour, near home, so that they aren’t compelled to migrate far off, in search of livelihood. Underlying spirit, therefore, is laudable as it is aimed at stoppage of the migration. We have seen the most pathetic and ugly face of such migration in the immediate aftermath of the first nationwide lock down, announced in the last week of March. Their march home stemmed from the sense of impending job loss coupled with the diminishing chances of survival at the places they were working. For weeks together nation, to its horror, saw unemployed men, women and children walking home hundreds of miles away, in the sweltering heat, bare footed with sparse belongings on the head. Hundreds fell wayside- hungry and dehydrated. While as some got crushed under the wheels.
Here, a digression ! We may to find a new dimension to the “Vocal for Local ” and add a little bit of political flavor to it. Ram Madhav, BJP’s point man in Kashmir has prompted such a digression. Lately, he has come out with a statement that BJP wants “statehood given back to Jammu and Kashmir .” In Delhi, he went on to say that work would be done to “get full statehood back very soon .”Though it is a welcome statement but falls short in highlighting what people in J&K have been , essentially, demanding. Even then we will take it as a medicine to the ailment which has been inflicted by none other than the doctor himself ; la bard it will sound; Tumhi nay dard diyaTum hi dawa Dena
This statement, otherwise also, fits appropriate to the scenario in view which, surely, is one other than the economic. Because, there is very little that JK can offer to the private enterprise – locally or otherwise. Hostile geography and a tag of conflict zone create no attraction for such an enterprise. There is sense of political and administrative orphanage permeating down all sections of the society. People experience great deal of discomfort on having lost space in the Indian constitution and the dent their identity has suffered, post August 5th 2019 developments. The pain gets exacerbated – more in a humiliation – when they are made to queue up in the hot, humid and COVID-19 affected whether to acquire a certification for being residents of JK which they already have, in much superior quality.
There is despondency all over the UT. Electricity and water woes are too much to bear. We have a big force of unemployed youth, to which, unfortunately, the prevailing pandemic has added more numbers. Despite tall claims to give job to the deserving no substantial movement is visible on the ground . Vacillation and uncertainty in decision making process are hurting. Political space is wide open. Even a worst governance of elected politicians is always preferable to an insensitive, indifferent and inaccessible bureaucratic rule. Therefore, along with restoration of statehood elections should be held to constitute assembly which, in turn, will give us a much needed democratic Government.
It is good that people from various sections in Kashmir are raising the BJP flag. We hope that it is not a passing phenomenon . However , while going on with the membership drive the BJP managers in the UT and the concerned people in Delhi must hear the silent jubilation of so many in the Valley expressed on the Chinese advancement in Ladakh . Then, there should be level playing field available to all those political actors who have faith in Indian constitution and have held Indian flag high, in the past
The displaced Pandits are the original “Locals ” but are thrown in the wilderness, away from the locality. It is therefore natural that someone should be vocal for them also.
The displaced Pandits have full faith in PM Narendra Modi: that he will ensure the end to their forced displacement, rather, soon and resettle them honourably in Kashmir. They do hope that their religious places will be restored to their spiritual and architectural glory by ensuring a democratic and transparent management, guaranteed by a statute.
However, Ram Madhav in his latest statement has put a dampener. As reported by news agency IANS, he has said few days back “unless we are able to guarantee both security and respect there it will not be possible for the Kashmiri Pandits to go back to the Valley. Only formation of colonies cannot lead to the return of Kashmiri Pandits .” By no means can this statement be termed as a confidence building one. As the security scenario unfolds in Kashmir, presently, displaced Pandits will continue to be in a very long wait .
Yes , we must be ‘Vocal for the Local “. But we have to exert vocal cords for citizenry and political rights, first, and then for other things.
(The author is former Principal District & Sessions Judge)
B L Saraf