Where are we heading?

By Jigmet Sangyas Leh, Mar 20, 2014
Leh :

Calls from friends, relatives, colleagues asking if I know any official in this and that office has become a common experience and ever frequent. There is no denying that they also receive calls of the same nature with the same frequency from me. And, it has ever increased my desire to have acquaintance with more and more officials, officials at higher posts preferably so that I get a preference in meeting my transactions in the offices easily and at the earliest. I never have a hitch in thinking and doing so as it has somehow become a way of life. I am sure that all those people of Leh who visit public offices and public places have the same kind of experience. The expression “Sheskan jig Yoda?” has become a catchphrase and everybody uses it ever frequently. More shocking is the practice of placing all our hope in the answer “Yod and Med” which has become a reality of our submissive nature to the grave degradation of our ethical, social and democratic values. I have had experience in the public offices and places all in ‘Yod’ and ‘Med’ situations. And, because it was ‘Med’ situation most of the time for me, I have become too cynical to write anything positive. I take this experience as a mirror to express my view as a common man on the prevailing state of affair in our society.

We have the proud feeling of Ladakh being known to the world as a land of peace and harmony for its people are known as peace-loving, self-contented, kind-hearted, humane, and compassionate and for many more positive connotations. But, it seems that the existence of such qualities among Ladakhis has become a bygone thing. Let us try to delve inside the issue through this twin paradox:

First is the paradox of degradation of ethical or moral values in the society and the miscomprehension of the reality by the world as we (ladakhis) are wearing a fake face. We had a harmonious and peaceful society in the past because of the strong uphold of ethical or moral values by the people then. The kind of social relationships we had then was a proof of the true possession of the qualities mentioned above. People used to be very helpful and cooperative towards each other which reflected in the cordial relation they had with their neighbours. Ladakh as an example of a harmonious society for the world in the past was nothing but because of the strong uphold of values like respect for every religion, culture and practice. “Social Security” was the foremost important thing that the people enjoyed then. The “Social Security” referred here is different from the concept of security we are familiar with these days enforced through the externally imposed mechanism like law, police, judiciary etc. It was then solely based on the practice of positive social constraints like values and humility by the people in the sheer absence of any externally imposed mechanism. This is proved by the fact that people in the past didn’t even lock their houses because there was no fear of theft. The “Social Security” people enjoyed in then Ladakh is further proved by the harmonious existence of people of different religion, sects, culture and practices and even more apparently by the kind of relationship people enjoyed with their neighbours. Today, it has become an obsolete phenomenon as one can find people concerned more and more about one’s own wants and desire before others’ as the virtues like altruism, selflessness, humanity, helpfulness and cooperativeness have become an alien practice. Today, we find people taking government benefits or advantages greedily and most of the time they do it at the cost of those who really deserve. Even more shocking was what we had to witness during the post-flood relief campaign. Many people shamelessly received the relief-aids while they knew that they really didn’t deserve. Didn’t they know who deserved? No, it’s not that they were ignorant of it, but it was a revelation of the growing greedy nature of the people and the infection is spreading rapidly. Then take the issue of communal clashes, whether we hide or not it is a simple truth that the threat of communal violence lurks our society even today which the world outside may not believe. We had to face the same twice in our recent past which were a result of trivial matters and stood an obvious proof of the tendency in the people losing respect for the mutual existence of religions. So, we cannot expect any improvement in the “Social Security” scenario in such a deteriorating atmosphere. Women are increasingly being subjected to domestic violence and sexual harassments and yet we do nothing more than reconciliation or suppression. Where are morality and justice? Do we still boast of being known for kindheartedness, compassion, contention, and so on. Are we not wearing a fake face? Are not we masquerading as pure Ladakhi known to the world?

Second is the Paradox of our claim of having moved towards modern democracy and our inability to uphold the values of the system- democratic values. Our political leaders claim boastfully that they are leading Ladakh towards more development on the line of democratic credentials and with the guidance of democratic values. I cannot see Ladakh going towards any good direction; rather our society is getting ruined on the name of democracy and better modern political system. It can be conceded that democracy is good for society but it is also proving true that when we fail to uphold the values of any new system, it stirs the society and ends up with confusion and even worse when the people at the helm failed to uphold. The polity of Ladakh somehow was a smooth one in the beginning years of the commencement of the same political system we have today. It was so because at that time leaders and politicians were having the genuine sense of responsibility towards our society and they were indeed trustworthy. People also gave unwavering, unquestioning, unanimous and consistent support to then statesmen like Gyalsras Kushok Bakula and few others. Because there was no vested politics; leaders and politicians had legitimacy. They never did try to break the trust of the people. Though people had less political education or less knowledge about political things (like the power of franchise, election, party etc.), they didn’t have to face problems of self-interest driven partisan politics. Thanks to the existence of good qualities in the leaders and masses then. In the course of time due to our negligence in morality in general and our failure to uphold democratic credentials and values, we have evolved a self-interest-driven, immoral, pity partisan politics which do not know the interest, welfare, service or benefit of the society at all. Are we still boasting of having party choice, election and local government? Where are necessary democratic values? Let us discuss how we are ignoring democratic values along with the general degradation of moral values. I am sure that you have seen our political parties trying to influence the voting behavior of voters by luring them with some minor rewards. The usage of money, meals and drinks as vote bank during elections has become a common experience. They use religion, muscle, power, money and influence. Same is the case even with our grassroots politics of panchayats- sad to be known! Are they boasting of having learned such ill practices in our so-called democratic system? Have we become so democratic that our village level leaders have also learned this pity politics? The practice of casting fake votes of deceased people in view of getting more votes for the party we favor has also become a familiar thing. And then, the incidence of force used during the election have been witnessed many a time but not reported because of our expertness in suppressing such things as we do in the case of violence against women. The interest-driven partisan politics our politicians play shows over enthusiasm among them to try a kind of our national politics on the handful population of Ladakh which is very funny! And how cheap our leaders have become, they are ready to do anything improper for a seat at the cost of our society. They do so because it will not only provide them with a handsome salary but also will enable them fulfill some murky intentions of favouritism, nepotism, and cronyism.

I fail to understand as to where are we heading, but can at least feel that it is very important for us to explore and understand the scenario so that we could discuss the possible solutions to the problems. Unless we explore and talk openly on the issues, we cannot save our society from evils and anomalies.

The author is doing M.Phil. in Political Science, at Jammu University. The article is fully based on personal observation and views.