Wednesday, May 12, 2010

IAS and Conflict Resolution

Naseer A Ganai
Visit Dadsar Tral someday. In 1975 a young boy from the village was commissioned in the Army. His name was Muhammad Amin Naik. In 2008, Amin rose to become Major General in the Indian Army. The villagers speak high of him. They consider him as son of the soil who has done exceedingly well in his life.
However, the respect and love for Major General Naik has not brought any change in the mindset of people. They continue to be what they are: Kashmiris who look for solution of Kashmir dispute. There is reason why I say so. In 1990 armed insurgency erupted in Kashmir. From the village near about 100 joined the militancy. 50 have died in encounters. This happened despite one of them occupying high position in the Army.
In 1982, another person joined the elite club of Indian Administrative Service. His name was Khurshid Ahmad Ganai. Ganai was second topper in the Union Public Service Commission list that year. But does it made any impact on youth in Kashmir? In 1990 you had 1990 despite Ganai being second topper in 1982.
The IAS or for that matter Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) should not be linked with conflict resolution. There are many people in Kashmir, who are averse to the overwhemling presence of non-Kashmiri bureaucrats in the State administration. They have different notion of resistance. Ironically, they see occupying top slots in the administration by Kashmiri Muslims as part of the resistance, never knowing that the administration is strongest arm of the state.
Over the past few years we have seen much activity from the senior Muslim officers of the State. They have been urging the youth to go for IAS and Kashmir Administrative Service. They call it real empowerment. They say, that too repeatedly, that if the youth fail to compete in the administrative services, there will be no other alternative for Kashmiris but to work as fourth class employees in the State’s administrative set up.
The perception is deep among Kashmiri civil servants who have over the years seen how non-State subject bureaucrats work in the State. They perceive them as biased and having myopic view of things.
These Kashmiri civil servants whether retired or serving, worked hard to motivate Kashmiri youth to compete in the competitive examinations. They made them believe that even in the given “adverse administrative atmosphere,” they can make it beacuse of their sheer talent. Shah Feasal topped the list and broke all myths about the incompetence of Kashmiri Muslim. It was message that Kashmiris can’t be pushed around. Showkat Parray rose from humble background and qualified the IAS. Thus proved that intelligence is not domain of any clan. The reaction in Kashmir particularly among the top officers to the UPSC results was overwhelming. They were happy.
There are reasons for it. First and foremost reason is Muslim presence in the State administration would continue even though it is meager. The second reason was it would prompt youth of Kashmir to compete in the exams and thus increase the number of Muslim in the administration which is dwindling.
To my mind there are various ways people here perceive resistance. Some concentrate on environment and they think its preservation is must and part of resistance. Some think that presence of Muslims in police and the administration could make difference to the people of Muslim majority State. Others perceive they can make change through their writings and Art. Others believe in hardcore politics, like separatists. So the qualifying of Muslim Kashmir in IAS could be seen as assertion Kashmiri identity which majority of Kashmiris perceive is under attack.
But it couldn’t be linked with conflict resolution. That would be what Prof Gul Wani of Political Science Department Kashmir says “far fetched.” “Let us give Ghulam Nabi Azad, Farooq Abdullah, Saif Din Soz, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed cabinet berths and top ministerial portfolios, will it make any change in Kashmir,” he asks. “It won’t.” “Then how come an IAS officer is going to change 60 year old polity of State,” he asks. He says Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was Home Minister of India and Mufti is always reluctant to talk about this very chapter of his life.
So to conclude, I will borrow quote from Prof Abdul Gani Bhat. Bhat when asked about Omer Abdullah’s advent into State politics some eight years back, he said “sun has long set on Kashmir, son rise or son set will not make any difference to it.” So let us talk about the resolution of Kashmir dispute instead of perceiving IAS selection as resolution in itself.
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