Sunday, April 21, 2013

In the wonder world of Sozology

By Naseer A Ganai

Professor Saif-u-Din Soz, whenever speaks, speaks off the record. He never says anything on record. It is very difficult to make anything out of what the professor says “on record.”

On record he would talk on expected lines. For example, try to seek his reaction on Afzal Guru’s hanging. He would say Sonia ji is Congress president and Manmohan Singh is prime minister and he has conveyed both of them feelings of people over the issue and they have given him a patient hearing. And what are feelings of people? “Well, both Madam Sonia ji and the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh ji, understand the feelings of the people,” Soz Sahab would reply.

If you persist with your query, he would say, “I conveyed them about feelings of people and they heard me patiently.”

So it was very surprising to see Prof. Soz reacting to a “rumour”. He issued a long statement on the alleged rumor.

Since Prof. Soz saved the Congress government with his one vote, it is first time that he has issued such a long statement. Many events took place since then but all these years Soz sahib has reacted very patiently. Mufti Sayeed became chief minister, followed by Ghulam Nabi Azad and Omar Abdullah is about to complete six year of his tenure. But all these catastrophic events in Kashmir history were no events for Prof. Soz.

Nothing forced him to issue a long statement.

He usually refrains from issuing long statements. Perhaps he realizes that long statements need more words and for more words, you need to say something and for saying something, you need to have something to say, and for having something to say, you need to have consent of Sonia ji, and having consent of Sonia ji is such a big task that Soz Sahab prefers shorter statements over the longer ones.

But a rumour, which only Prof. Soz and the person who called him knew, prompted Soz Sahab to issue a long statement. It is sea change in J&K Congress and it speaks volumes about confidence of Congress in general and Soz Sahab in particular. Otherwise who reacts to rumors these days? Only Soz Sahab has guts to do it. Others will prefer not to touch this risky political issue of reacting to a rumor, which can cost chief minister his job.

In his rare and long statement carried by all newspapers today, Soz Sahab, while reacting to, what he called, a hot rumor, said: “When a Senior Journalist and Editor of a News Paper (sic) rang me up from Srinagar late last evening and sought a clarification on a hot rumour in Srinagar that Prof. Soz accompanied by Mr. Mufti Mohammad  Sayeed and Mr. Gulam Nabi Azad, had met  Smt. Sonia Gandhi. I was alarmed and told the Editor that it was a figment of somebody’s imagination! It was then that I decided to say something on rumour mongering in Kashmir, as a traditional trait.”

First of all, it is allegation against the rumor that there was any such rumor. Then giving gender to the rumor and terming it “hot” is sexist comment. Soz sahib admits that he was alarmed by the hot rumor. That is personal issue and we should not speak about it. I never knew that hot things even alarm politicians.  

Anyways, Prof. Soz then cited Sir Walter Lawrence and said Lawrence agreed with many historians that Kashmiris were given to cause rumours. “He had said how rumours traveled from Zainakadal to Amirakadal and then traveled back to Zainakadal to die down there. Incidentally, Lawrence called Zainakadal as Hawakadal ! So, I thought I must say something on rumour mongering in Kashmir. I thought, I must clear the position on certain recent rumours, including the functioning of the coalition,” reads Prof Soz’s strong worded statement.

He means to say that Sham Lal Sharma’s accusation against Taj Mohideen is rumor, sale of fake drugs in government hospitals is rumor and the State government run by Omar Abdullah is big rumor.  
He then explains that “the NC-INC Coalition is in proper shape.” Prof. Soz did not explain the “proper shape.” It is very difficult to elaborate the proper shape. As if NC-INC was a model and it walked on a ramp and Soz sahib was judge. And after watching catwalk of Sham Lal Sharma, Taj Mohideen, Tara Chand, Abdul Rahim Rather, Ali Muhammad Sagar and others, he gave the coalition a certificate of having a perfect shape.    

Prof. Soz however did not mention the size of the coalition. This he left to imagination of the readers.

He then went on to elaborate: “The coalition will continue for its scheduled life span that is till the next elections are due. At that point of time both parties will have the option to decide the next move, keeping their party interests in view.” Perfect. What does it mean?
This is what linguists call Sozology. Linguists say Sozology is study of language to decipher what people like Soz  Sahab say. Over to Sozologists.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Doctor's argument

By Naseer A Ganai
Do you know why everyone here is angry with doctors? Why some people criticise them, some abuse them, others beat them up? He did not wait for my answer. And I had none.

Because, he said, there is anger and suffering everywhere and you cannot do anything but to tolerate it. And once you reach to a hospital you give vent to this anger and target doctors. You have to vent this accumulative anger somewhere, so why not on doctors.

We were in a hospital ward, when he said that the world outside is brute world. It is merciless world. It kills you and that too slowly. It makes you angry, depressive and abusive.   

For example, he explained, a policeman lays hand on your son; arrests him on charges of stone pelting. What will you do? Nothing. You cannot tell police that he was not involved in the stone pelting. You go to a court, you hire a lawyer, pay him his wages and get your son released on bail.

You walk on a road, stray dogs pull you down and they take one or two bites of your body, you cannot bite them back. You just tolerate this too.

You go to a government office. A clerk there keeps you waiting till eternity only to you tell you that come again tomorrow. You tolerate it. You go to a ration depot and come home with third rate rice and sugar; you just mix this rice with anger and eat it in the evening.

You travel in a bus, which takes years to cover five km distance. You see people dying in an avoidable road accidents, you see parents being fleeced in the name of school fee, you see teachers not teaching in government schools, you see fraud and bungling in recruitments and you tolerate all this. Because you know you cannot do anything.

All of sudden some of your close doesn’t tolerate all this madness around and takes poison or falls ill. You rush him to a hospital and here you want that a doctor should leave all other patients and see your relative first. It is genuine human feeling. But you see the doctor busy with other patients. You realise that it will take him time to reach to your relative. It is matter of death and life for you.All your accumulative anger bursts out and the doctor becomes target of this anger. He is pushed, abused and at times kicked. Because, you cannot push, abuse or kick anyone in the brave new world outside this hospital. There you have limitation. Here you have none. 


By Naseer A Ganai  

Along with a fellow journalist, I went to interview some families, who had returned from Azad Kashmir. Image of Azad Kashmir here is that it is a backward place, where people live in dark ages, electricity has not touched it and they don't have any culture and history.

We Kashmiris think that  people, who don't live in Valley, have no culture. We have an opinion about people of Doda, Rajouri and Muzafferbad and we have not changed it. We think they have no taste as they don’t know how to cook wazwan and eat it.  

Our culture starts from Kabab and ends at Gustaba.  

So I wanted to meet these uncultured people, who have not tasted culturally rich wazwan.

The family, we met, had returned from Azad Kashmir six months ago. They were: husband, wife and their five children.

I thought they will be happy in idyllic Kashmir enjoying beauty of mountains and nonsense of people, who ask their children whether there is TV in Azad Kashmir.

On the contrary, they all looked gloomy and their first query was whether they are chances that the government would push them back to Azad Kashmir. I was surprised. Why you people wanted to flee from this heaven on earth governored by Omar Abdullah, the last Mughal?

“Sakoon hi nahi hai idhar, Agar Azad Kashmir Jahnam hai bas mujay usi aag mein dalo,” said the mother of five children. Her children too wanted to go back to live in sakoon. Their Kashmiri father was regretting his decision to come back. Wahan sakoon tha, he said after a long pause.

Those, who have seen sakoon, value sakoon. They have sense of loss. We don't have any as we have only tasted wazwan.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Of Omar’s tears and Mehbooba’s wails

By Naseer A Ganai
What else can the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah do expect crying and, in between taking long pauses, start crying again. It is an art and he is trying to perfect it.
But he is not the only one, who has cried in the Assembly. He has got a good crying company.

Recent history of J&K reveals that Dr. Farooq Abdullah introduced this technique of “cries and long pauses” in his speeches in J&K Assembly after he became chief minister in 1996. He cried in J&K Assembly many a times. He cried when five persons were killed Patheribal fake encounter. Dr Abdullah spoke in the House in choking voice, when the then Deputy Prime Minister, L.K Advani, rejected autonomy resolution passed by the State Assembly. But he didn't step down and remained with the BJP led NDA government, knowing well that when cries can do the job, why lose the job by resigning.

Dr Abdullah, however, would not shed tears while crying.

Later, Mehbooba Mufti of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) tried to emulate Dr. Abdullah. But she perfected it and remained always in a perpetual state of melancholy while speaking in the Assembly. She learned it in early 2000 when she would visit houses of victims of human rights abuses. She would cry and at times would shed one or two tears. Those days, Mehbooba’s heart would bleed on every bullet fired in Kashmir.

But once PDP came to power, she regained her composure and restrained her heart from going astray.

After her Muzaffer Hussain Baig, the then deputy chief minister and PDP leader, added more pathos to the melancholic speeches of J&K Assembly. Speaking in the Assembly, somewhere in 2004 during permanent residence (disqualification) bill, Baig threatened of resignation and accused New Delhi of “betrayal”.

Addressing to New Delhi, Baig roared! “What if bill is passed? When have you trusted Kashmiris, you have always stabbed them…Kashmiris have never ruled Kashmir. Kashmiris have been always at your beck and call,” Baig said this and more.

His voice cracked during the speech, but he withheld his tears. Many thought Baig the Caesar will leave Brutus soon and will resign. He did not. But newspapers next day wrote about Baig's emotional speech and his threat of resignation.

There's news these days that Baig has finally submitted his resignation to the speaker. But he has added a caveat to it. That first the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, should resign. He knows Omar will do anything except resigning.

So one should learn art of tendering resignations from Baig. He is resignation artist. He resigns and at the same time never resigns.

But Baig should be given credit for making Abdul Rashid Dar, the then chairman of the Upper House, to cry in the legislative council. In 2004, Dar was chairman of the council and Baig was the Deputy Chief Minister and Law Minister. He gave an impassioned speech in the House and reminded Dar that the opposition National Conference was falsely accusing him of sabotaging the Permanent Residence (disqualification) Bill, which divested women marrying outside the state of the right to property.

 "You are an honest man, you cannot do it and you have not done it," Baig told Dar and Dar lowered his head and next the whole House heard cries of Dar. There was complete silence in the House as Dar's tears made contact with ground. It was the first time in the Assembly that tears actually fell and touched the ground.

In 2008, PDP withdrew support to the Ghulam Nabi Azad led government. Mehbooba Mufti in her speech in the Assembly targeted Azad and Congress for transferring land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. She almost wept when she talked about killing of protesters.

Azad responded her with an equally emotional speech. Omar Abdullah was watching Azad from the visitor’s gallery. Perhaps he was learning those days. Azad almost broke down during the speech and finally he gave a long pause before informing the House that he is meeting the Governor to submit his resignation.

In the recent history of the J&K Assembly, Azad’s speech is the only emotional speech that culminated into resignation. Others just cried.

So there's nothing new about Omar Abdullah crying in the Assembly. There is history of wailing legislators and chief ministers. And Omar Abdullah joined this history book in 2010 when he said that his heart bleeds over the death of 112 boys. The question, how it all happened, always haunts him, Omar had said. He gave a long pause and then sat down.

PDP was expecting that he will resign. But he didn't. This time too PDP hoped that he will resign but he didn't.  He cannot resign. Because, he knows that once he resigns, PDP will lose no time in siding with congress to form the next government.

So Dear heart! Cry whenever things go bad in Kashmir but never resign.
Tears help. It adds to drama. It gives some good TV coverage and masala to TV anchors.

They ask in the evening: “Tell us Sajjad Lone, will Omar's tears help?

"I don't think so. He along with PDP should resign," replies Sajjad.

Will he? Will Mehbooba resign?

Then the buck stops there.

Next day in J&K legislators elect members for the Upper House and amidst a sea of tears greet each other. Happy moments!

Life of ruling elite in Kashmir looks like a soap opera. Full of dramatic moments, full of emotions, full of tears, and in between, there're some happy moments. Where you Ekta Kapoor?

Friday, April 5, 2013

SMC Commissioner breaks dog unity

By Naseer A Ganai
Recent announcements by two top officials of Srinagar district has set nearly one lakh city dogs in tizzy. The Commissioner, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), Dr. G.N Qasba, made an announcement saying he has succeeded in bringing down dog population by 42,051, a significant decrease from 91,000 to 48,949 dogs, in just around one year.

"The good news is that dog population has come down significantly following a number of measures, which include the animal birth control programme. Around 1,000 dogs have been sterilised so far at the state-of-art kennels. What has added to the significant decrease is improved sanitation condition and control on littering in Srinagar," Qasba has said.

In 2011, former Minister, Nasir Aslam Wani, had ordered counting of stray dogs in Srinagar and after three months of their population count, Aslam had put the number of stray dogs in Srinagar as over 91000.

Dr. Qasba’s announcement that seterlisation has reduced number of dogs has worried dog intellectuals.

In an official organ of stray dogs, Better Life, leading dog psychologist in his article expressed surprise over Dr. Qasba’s mathematical claim. “If the SMC continues talking about our population the way Mr. Qasba is talking these days, I will not be amused if after some months he names us as plants instead of dogs. I am personally shocked to the level mathematics has been reduced to by Dr. Qasba,” he wrote in his weekly column.

He said he was worried more about State of maths in Kashmir. “I wish someone should tell the Commissioner that sterilisation does not reduce number existing dogs. It only stops procreation and given the way surgeries are being conducted in the Valley that is remote possibility. If we were 91000 last year, we are still 91000 and more this year. By subjecting few meek ones of us to sterilisation, if someone thinks he has reduced our population to half, it is his wishful thinking. Dr. Qasba’s claim is proof of how hilarious things can go in Kashmir” he wrote.

The paper also carried serious of news reports about activities of dogs and new locations they are seen these days to point out that dog population is increasing. Better Life has carried a feature on life of around three hundred pups at Jawaharnagar area. The write up gives insight about colourful childhood of pups in the area.

Better Life has also carried a news report which states that the Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Farooq Ahmad Shah, has constituted a committee on the issue of canine population. The paper said both the officials were doing their bit to get publicity and asked dogs not to be worried about their announcements.

But the two officials have divided dogs into two factions.
In a “general canine” meeting held at the SMHS hospital premises, serious differences cropped up between dogs. But timely intervention from a clever dog saved the situation. He motivated dogs to chase two cats, which entered into a hospital ward to save themselves. Ferocious howling outside the hospital building and the run of cats inside created panic among patients in the hospital. This way he stopped prospective fight among angry dogs.

In other localities like Jawaharnagar, Hyderpora bypass, Nowgam, Sanatnagar similar scenes were reported during the general canine meetings. The paper says that the division came to fore, when nine member executive meeting discussed the issue of drop in canine population.

Four members supported Dr. Qasba and other four, Farooq Ahmad Shah. However, a young female dog, which has recently joined executive council after death of one its member, did not support any faction. Instead she talked about creating a Welfare Canine State for dogs in Kashmir.

Dr. Qasba supporters argued that he is good officer, who speaks softly. They argue that they are safe in his hands. They argued that even though their number is increasing, which is visible everywhere, Dr Qasba, decreases them on files only. “It should not bother us as long as it is confined to files,” said an executive member. However, another objected to it and said that it is move to change demography of stray dogs. “He has decreased the number. His intentions are not right,” he apprehended.

Qasba loyalists rejected the assertion.

Shah loyalists also argued that he too will not harm canine population. “We will enjoy our fiefdom as we have been enjoying so far. We rule the street and he knows it.  If he is forming a committee or two, we should be ok with it.”

Above all, his loyalists said, he has not decreased our number so far. However, the lone bitch, who didn't join any of the faction, exhorted both the faction to think about welfare of dogs.

“Keep your differences apart, Shah or Qasba doesn't matter in our larger scheme of things. Keep your loyalties aside and think of our interest, which are supreme. We have to set a target. In next 20 years we have to outgrow human population of Kashmir. They are already living a wretched life. Never ever in the history such a wretched life has been lived by any. They are rotten inside. We must take this opportunity to annihilate them forever. We have to increase our population. We have to change them in minority, not only in Srinagar but in the whole Valley. That should be our goal,” she said and others nodded their heads in agreement.

She said that the message should be passed to all canines to make Srinagar population feel that they are coming. Let you all raise your tails and say every dog and bitch should howl eight times when he sees a man, if woman, nine times and if child ten times, if educated Kashmiri, then only one time. They all raised their tails in support of the resolution.

 “Children should fear dogs. Remember they are the generation we have to deal with in future. Bite them. At faces, at noses, at bottoms. Target them. You have only bitten 85000 in five years according to a recent report published by Greater Kashmir. The number is small. It has to grow,” she said and eight others again raised their tails.

“Tell your squads, who are now occupying every space that they should not howl at educated Kashmiris twice. One howl is sufficient for them,” she said and others laughed.

She laid a grand plan for increasing dog population for next twenty years. “You must keep these humans, who are living dehumized life, engaged in discourse like sterilisation and committees. And we must continue our work of procreation and biting, each dog should ensure highly quality food for our children and female dogs. You should remember food which Kashmiris take is not fit for us, it is sicking, you must look for other avenues,” she said and others nodded their heads.

The meeting was held at SMHS hospital premises. Nearly 200 dogs from nearby localities later cheered the members at Karnanagar chowk after they read out the procreation resolution.