Institutions have a role We need them to strengthen our society

Political uncertainties are agonizing. With their looming shadows, these not only take toll of the contemporary generations but like radioactive substance also affect the   generations to come.    Often such situations remain clouded with despair and despondencies but these contain streaks of hope not only for ending the uncertainties but also for leading people into a better tomorrow.

It   often depends upon the attitude of the societies that live under such situations. If a society decides to get drowned under despair, despondency and desperation it obviously is going to sink like wreckage of a ship to the bottom of the sea never to float   once again.

The living and vibrant societies in such situations not only refuse to sink under the weight of failures and disappointment but also throw up institutions that not only enable them to fight back the gusty winds of the seas of uncertainties but also help them in floating across safely to their destinations.

Looking at the political uncertainties in the state from a historical point of view, these at different points of time have thrown up political organizations. Besides having dedicated and selfless cadres, some of these   organizations had mass base and were truly people’s organizations.

In the post 1947 situation, departure and deporting of the Muslim Conference leaders across the ceasefire line had left only one political party the National Conference on the scene. Such situations provide ideal conditions for people with fascists’ ideas to thrive on. In this bizarre single party  scenario the peoples discourse virtually had drowned under the ‘dominant discourse’ of this party. However, after some years the voice of dissent started breaching the dams of the ‘dominant discourse and new political organization such as the Jammu and Kashmir Political Conference was launched by Ghulam Mohi-u-Din Qara a confident and trusted lieutenants of S.M. Abdullah in July 1953. Two years after the deposition of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah as Prime Minister of the state his another lieutenant Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg launched the J&K Plebiscite Front in 1955. The Jammu and Kashmir All Parties Action Committee born in Jan 1964 for leading movement for restoration of the Holy Relic from Hazratbal Shrine assumed role of a political organization in May 1964 after adopting resolution articulating demand for right to self-determination and holding of plebiscite in the state. True, these organizations and the movements that these parties led were born out of the political uncertainties that took over the state immediately after the end of the feudal autocratic rule. I am not here to debate on the politics or the cause that these organizations advanced. However, the question that stares at my face has been why these organizations abandoned the ‘espoused causes’ midway. I see reason for this the state after 1947 failing to throw up the institutions that provide sustainability and ideological fidelity to organizations committing for ending political uncertainties and bringing smiles to the face of beleaguered people.

Contrary to the post 1947 political spectrum, we see after 1865 revolt against the atrocious autocratic,   consistent interplay of historical forces and evolution of institution of far reaching importance that geared up for ‘battling political supremacy and right to define their national identity.’ One of the important and classical examples in this regard is the birth and growth of the Anjuman Nusrat-ul-Islam. History recognizes this institution in the words Mridu Rai  author of Hindu Rulers Muslim Subjects, ‘the most effective societies formed in the valley.’ The institution had twin objective in the words of Chitralekha Zutshi, “to ensure religious and worldly education of Muslim children who are backward in education and to create an aptitude for reforms, social awakening and mutual unity amongst the Muslim community.” (Language of Belongings).

The birth of this institution worked as a catalyst in spawning of many other such institutions not only in Kashmir province but also in Jammu. Notwithstanding Alastair Lamb stating that ‘none of the bodies rivaled the Nusrat-ul-Islam’ the fact remains all the institutions contributed in imbibing confidence and moral strength to rise in revolt against the tyrannical rule. I see the Silk Factory uprising of 1924 as an attribute to role by played by this institution in the spread of education and awareness. ‘This uprising brought the condition of ordinary Kashmiri to the attention of British in a manner it was difficult for them to ignore’. I also see the birth of the Reading Room that became raison d’être for the 1931 movement as an attribute of this institution. However, the institution survives to this day but its influence started diminishing after forties and it completely depleted after 1947 and now it is reduced to a small religious organization.
The 1989, situation   that for all purposes will be counted as an important benchmark in history of the state besides causing birth of human rights and philanthropic  organizations did throw up some institutions that one look forward organizations as history recognizing for their pioneering work.

True, the organizations like the Kashmir Bar Association and the Coalition for Civil Society have  been strongly expressing their concerns on issues like rights violations or other problem concerning people but what could be seen as institution that could prove as instrumental in providing sustainability to the peoples discourse is yet to be born. In 1993 I had seen the birth of the Institute of Kashmir Studies as a milestone in contemporary history. It had drafted lofty objectives of ‘providing forum to the experts and intellectuals for contact and exchange of ideas, to undertake research on problems and issues relevant to the state, to formulate plans and strategies for the socio-economic and cultural upliftment of the people so on and so forth. No doubt the institute did document   human rights situation during early nineties in the state but failed to grow. It in fact died with whimper for working as an outfit of a particular religious-cum-political party. Had the institute worked independently in public domain,   by now it would have emerged, as much needed premier institution that would help in strengthen the people’s narrative.

There is in fact need for a ‘People’s Institute as effective as Anjuman in early part of 20th Century.

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