Monday, November 12, 2012

Community stands with conviction and not by election alone

They are young , energetic & responsible but with an intel inside mentality & F1 Outside . KP YOUTH of 2012 ! Mark them or else you will miss them. While as 90’s saw the rejuvenation of new generation , it was definitely the economic boom that let our community youth to ride it on right time. Some prospered in foreign lands and some became ‘who is who’ of Industry in India acquiring knowledge , Respect and wealth. 

The humbleness of being KP among Youth made him a silent worker of society always and collaborate with senior in any working organization of Kashmiri Pandits in what so ever form and where ever. When called for Financial assistance  they have contributed the best from their pockets . When asked for protest , they have even forced their way wherever possible . When asked to do social service they definitely gave their blood , sweat and tears always for this community. Idea for many such youngsters was not create an inflated ego for themselves but to create a survival kit for this community which is in exile and henceforth always needs fresh oxygen to breathe. They sacrificed their careers , time , energy and effort for the sake of community at times.

I have been witness to many such events as an activist , as a participant , as a life member of many local KP Organizations  and above all as an observer on the declining trend of youth participation in last 1 decade in community affairs. Last ditch attempts by many to overcome the RED TAPISM in our KP Sabhas has made them take desperate experiments in order to prove the logical continuity of rationalism prevailing in our Community. I have been witness to one such experiment recently which has made me to write this observation. It goes without saying that my write up is not an attempt to be against the said Organization or its elected member but on the process & psychosis under which we create these conditions per say.  

My political ideology doesn’t come in my fair assessment to the state of local KP sabhas as they have been limited to the upkeep of Havan , Bhavan but have wider scope in local community and serve as a vital input to the overall goal of this community.  It is that essential stream or Brooke that will feed into the bigger river of Homeland Movement oneday as such they are often of great interest to me. They need to be healthy state and local nerve centers if we have to survive in exile.

This write up also doesn’t signify that I will be less cooperative in any sense to any of these KP Sabhas. It is a healthy criticism of my own community and it is my duty to do so. I seek forgiveness if by any chance ,it hurts the sentiments of anyone by any chance.I still owe allegiance to elected member and respect the institutions.

As someone said that intelligent are silent and self-proclaimed are making too much noise that is why the pandemonium of KP social & political spectrum has seen the biggest ever lost of Youth Participation. I dealt at length  with KP youth affairs from Jammu to Jersey and was appalled by the lack of interest in youth in their  / 30’s for Community affairs &, I found eschewed bitterness in them towards any social or political activism for KP causes. Result has proved beyond doubt  that youth are at cross roads and first four victims are

1. Loss of language & values
2. Loss of Religious & cultural continuity
3. Intercaste Marriages &  conversions to other religions
4. Loss of family bonding & high rate of Divorces

Then excuses have also changed their way from being over busy in professional life to any personal compulsions & open dissatisfaction with agenda of Damaloo & Daal committees. But when I scratch the surface , reality is haunting to such an extent that it feels that we are indeed writing the last pages of our history as a community.   

One of its first kinds ,much before Obama changed the face of democracy . I was really watching the curious turn of events when a young president of Overseas association was frustrated to such an extent that he never stood up again for the presidency of that championing organization.  Also much before the elections , this democratic ways of elections lost its meaning when campaigning turned into nasty personal attacks on him.  Youth followers across the community were indeed appalled at the loss of moral standards in that elections.  It served a rejoinder to all of them that this community doesn’t provide space to any Political / social strata for youth. Because that overseas association was a benchmark for the educated class among us.

Few years back in any KP Havans, we used to have massive number of Young folks as workers distributing Damaloos & Daal to people, holding steaming Rice  with perfection but at least the trend has been replaced into buffet system owing to shortage of so called young workers.  Where are they ? Is it really the shortage or those young hands that have abandoned the very cause of KPs rituals ?   

I conducted  a personal survey on mechanism & data of membership for at least 5 KP organizations and statistics are as below

1.      Membership  of at least 3 Sabhas out of 5 was obsolete to more than 42 ~ 45 %  
2.      Not more than 40% KPs were active  member or members at all in these associations.
3.      Not more than 5% members were in active age group of 20-40
4.      Not more than 10% of these bracketed age Group (20-40) was participating in that organization.
5.      None of these Sabhas could ever hold more than 1.5 functions a year which included Havans.
6.      None of these Sabhas were able to attract more than 10% of total community around their area for any function.

Results are astonishing and really alarming for the community & hence prove the dismissal record of community cohesive and participation .

A couplet from Brij Nath Betabh famous poem reminds me of the legacy that is yet to unfold

Naves doras ander pake bronth suy akh
Chu rahbar nav javaan yas kaarevanas
Pazzar posheich chi prakrat mushqe chatunuy
Tagun gache sag ti dyun tat bhagewannas

English translation

Will see the dawn of the new firmament
The caravan of who, is by the precept of youth,
Nurse the young buds with dreams and reveries
In veracity will the fragrance blossom of youth

Now let me take a dig at a scenario in 2009 Havan at a local body where I used stay those days. I remember a classical case where the Executive Members , President & Secretary General of that esteemed Sabha ate the Havan Prasad first , followed by their near & dear ones as per the ritual. Young silent workers kept on serving but when they sat for LANGER , there was none serve them.

They might have looked to be ordinary men or women but some missed their flights and some their office for next few days . They concluded that it was not social service but social punishment from that KP Sabha where management took their humbleness for granted.  Since then I haven’t seen them distributing even glass of water in that Sabha nor could I see any fresh face in that sabha which would volunteer to even spread  ‘Dastarkaan ‘ . The Community lost a band of volunteers just because Senior Membership couldn’t retain a sense of belonging to the young workers other than using them as TENT boys. 

Few Weeks back , a Blood Donation camp was organized and attendance was minimal to the edge of shame that volunteers were to be ferried from other states to save grace of the Sabha. But what changed the proportion in just few weeks when elections were announced. 

On Election day same Members ferried the voters with hired taxis and cars for polling as if this seat of service has changed to seat of power forever & losing an election would create a dent on their selfrespect. Had the same logistics been pressed into service then for sure Blood camps would have got more than 50 units of Blood. What I witnessed during elections was another spectacular analysis.  I was indeed feeling pity when I saw men in 90s and 80s coming to vote but none to be found in 20-30s .

In total membership of 1500 plus association, 60 people stood as candidates for election which mean a representative calculation  ~ 1: 20.  Was it a rat race or was it ego tussle ? Was it a really SEWA bhaav  or more or less small disorganized bands of people making sure that only a particular set of people are in that Sabha.  An instance of both husband wife being in election , an instance of few areas with totally none to represent and few areas with more than total representation of 20% in the candidate list.
It was a disproportionate case of candidature selection upfront and was followed by election as well.  A ratio that is more than Kinder garden nursery sampling where we have 1 teacher per 20 kids.  Did we have so many leadership ambitious people and ready to participate in election. Answer is again in numbers that not more than 10% pooled more than 10% of total electorate. Hence the top 10 selection is a misnormer or an eyewash.

Those who voted  across the list and based on merit ( which was very difficult for me ) were really puzzled at the exercise. I didn’t vote for a close friend of mine although being as my conscious didn’t allow me  & I also didn’t vote for one set or section of people but made fair assessment of every candidate.

A team of young folks over a bet on tea decided to stand for election within the age group of 25 ~ 40 to test the  preaching v.s practicing of elders who often stress on youth participation. Expecting that big  talk from community seniors that they need young minds and hands to work will support them anyhow as such don’t need to campaign.

One section running for presidency took the opportunity to make them as part of their list and another by sheer number game and resources pooled in so much effort that none of them won. Although none of them was hurt or happy but analysis of this result is disheartening. Not a single voter would have ever cared to look for merit of having half a dozen youngsters in the executive other than voting for his known buddy or old ages pre 90s  or his cousin or his relative.  Worst is yet to come as these are only symptoms that experiment failed . KP society is still light years away from adapting or adopting the young minds.  

Late papa ji J N Kaul would tell his executive that running for presidency isnt only strengthening the grass root democracy but adoring the apparel of servant . He would also reiterate that the first mantra of community survival is to accept and adopt  the youth. 

I congratulate the winners of elections that they have succeeded in retaining the seat of power but I regret that they have lost the seat of service to youth for ever.

Results would unfold in coming years when the lack luster sabhas will have little or no youth participating other than few handpicked individuals who might make it further dysfunctional. Like Arya Samaj movement , all KP sabhas are losing the youth not only in community initiatives but at home also. Like Jammu , they would soon become old age homes automatically with youth being in Americas or turning away from family /social commitments and Old will be in Villas/ flats with maids waiting for them to die & call their siblings abroad. Even the Kriya Karam would have to be prebooked with non KP association & oblations performed over video conferencing or Skype.

When an old Tree falls , it makes lot of cracking noise & so would be the fate of  this article but it is important to make every KP Sabha realize  that prosperity of community is in continuity but not in inflated ego games of election where we waste enormous money & effort. Community stands with conviction and not by election alone.

Late papa ji J N Kaul would tell his executive that running for presidency isnt only strengthening the grass root democracy but adoring the apparel of servant . He would also reiterate that the first mantra of community survival is to accept and adopt  the youth. 

In Personal Capacity ,

Veer ji Wangoo