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Alternative Models

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The benefits of modern development are often intangible, not uniformly available to all. Some people benefit more than others for a variety of reasons; there is often an element also of personal choice, for it is not necessary that people may want what the government wishes to provide them. This is why institutions of governance need to be available and functioning at the grassroots. The people must themselves contribute through participation, particularly in community based activity. Also, the wider the concept of service, the more robust is the economy that underpins society.

This social integration needs to be bolstered and protected in a multiplicity of ways, with a higher level of consciousness behind it all. The individual’s needs and that of society have to blend, with friction being smoothed out through a mutual appreciation of the common purpose. This is the ideal that societies aspire to and, also, its disruption is the objective of those who wish to destroy this way of life for reasons of their own, particularly the quest for power.

An extreme example of what may be described as this ‘clash of cultures’ is being witnessed in Kashmir these days. The Government of India’s attempt to bring economic well-being, social justice and peace in the valley is being attempted to be thwarted by jihadism fueled by Pakistan. It is the Kashmiri Pandits who are being singled out, just as it is women in Afghanistan. Kashmiri Muslims who actively oppose such acts are also being killed, but there is a limit to such acts for fear of alienating them. The Pandits are a soft and easy target and forcing them to leave puts a spanner in the government’s development goals.

The Pandits can be easily taken out of the firing line by shifting them to safer areas. That, however, would deliver a major blow to the integration necessary for a development oriented society. The people of the valley will be deprived of many elements of modernity required for their growth, individually and as a society. The coming generations will have to pay the price as the choices that would help them in self-realisation will be gone. The harm being done is not so much to the Pandits as it is to them. The Pakistanis do not care for Kashmiris; it is just the land and the rivers they want. The fruits of democracy are complex and difficult to achieve, but the alternative cannot be acceptable to any in this day and age.