Some sixty years back most of the Kashmiries were not part of the system of governance and were addressed as ‘hayoo or hatoo’ but the scenario is altogether different now. During the autocratic rule of Maharajas governance was imposed either through the relatives and cronies, who were mainly imported from the plains of Punjab and in certain cases from Britain. These officers of autocratic rule were almost alien to this land of innocent and exploited people and would resort to every overt and covert means to exploit and subjugate Kashmiries on behalf of the Maharajas. They neither had linguistic and cultural semblance with Kashmiri people nor did they try to set a cord of compassion and justice with people of this land. They were cruel civil servants extracting every bit of people’s energy for the best of autocracy.
Since independence system of governance has changed, so has the instruments of governance. No British civil servants and no imported exploiters (irrespective of their religion, cast and creed) are seen managing corridors of power and exploiting people on ground. Power has shifted in the hands of people’s representatives and people of the state manage the affairs of government and governance. No doubt the system after independence is not that just and democratic as it should have been and fairly speaking it is not much cruel and dishonoring. But yes! The factor of exploitation has changed hands and exists there in our governing system. After independence a few so called elites and nobles of autocratic system changed their loyalties on the onset of democracy; many neo-rich sociopolitical exploiters managed to grab the power in the guise of champions of democracy. Sycophancy presents shoddy metals as precious gems and establishes exploiters as saviors of common-man. And sycophancy is widespread in our systems. This state of affairs is almost unchanged and it seems there is no hope of improvement on this front. The politician, capitalist and bureaucratic nexus is so well bond that only a well fought people’s resistance will pull down these castles of exploitation, nepotism and favoritism. These above lines are prelude to my apparently very different subject but in real sense related to the aspiration, ambitions and duties of hero of my topic— Dr.Shah.Faesal the Indian Administrative Services topper 2009. I had seen many write-ups of young Dr. Shah in local dailies particularly in this news paper. Mainly these write-ups were laden with information regarding right to information and other subjects related to empowerment, emancipation and civil liberties. Words put in black and white speak of the real horizon of the human mind and are deceptive in rarest of rare cases. Shah Faesal has made history in many ways—he is the first Kashmiri to top this exam and the first Muslim aspirant to achieve this. This young man belongs to one of the remotest but picturesque part of valley- Lolaab (to be precise, Sogam village). Lolaab is a beautiful valley located on the far end of district Kupwara and its backward standing and pathetic condition on developmental, education, healthcare and other infrastructural fronts is known to one and all. Obviously, Dr. Shah whose capabilities are now established beyond doubt, while getting his early education at Sogam village may have experienced exploitation, deprivation and lack of basic facilities even after sixty years of emancipation. His write-ups and his present statements clearly speak of his reservations regarding the system of governance, rampant nepotism, exploitation and favoritism rife even in present democratic system. If we go by the words of this hero where he clearly mentions that ‘during my MBBS degree I made up my mind to settle some where else where I can serve my people better, particularly in rural and remote areas for their betterment and empowerment’ his goal is clear and for that he has proved his worth and ability. He is capable of holding the reigns of governance (power) and delivers what is shaping in his mind and desired by his heart. His qualifying and topping IAS exam entitles him to be a bureaucrat, and part of highest decision making process but he will always remain subservient to the political system at every point of time. Another brilliant Kashmiri aspirant came very close to this historic achievement some twenty eight years back and that luminous Kashmiri was none other than Mr. Khursheed Ahamad Ganaie. He missed this feat by a wafer thin margin of few grades. That time print media was the only vibrant source of information and his photographs and interviews were splashed almost on every piece of print media. From the day his picture and details appeared in competition success magazine in early eighties I kept track of this genius. His tenure as Sub Divisional Magistrate at much hyped trouble torn Sopre is fresh in my mind even after more than two decades. Khursheed Sahibs energy, knack and truthfulness were his major attributes. He knew what exploitation means, where from it emanates and who are responsible for it. As usual Sopore was always on boil and Khursheed Sahib also had some bad patches of Sopore experience. As more a young activists than officer we could distinguish his sympathies towards suppressed people. At present no one can challenge the integrity of this man of great attributes and integrity but with the passage of time that roaring savior of common-man had come under the heavy burden of political weight and faulty system.
As I said earlier Dr. Shah has ventured into IAS to empower people, to get them out of exploitation and provide them good, honest and impartial governance, can he be able to serve his people to his satisfaction and fulfill their long cherished aspirations? Can Shah Faesal (now IAS) deliver while sharing the system with people who either by choice or by default could not deliver for last six decades, what this young man of ability, energy, values and attributes want to establish after achieving a outstanding feat? I am sure not! Very soon he will join the prestigious Lal Bahadur Academy of Administration (much hyped with British elite syndrome) for learning the etiquettes and elite mannerism, where he will be taught table manners (which are thought to be necessary for governing a country where millions go without food for days together). He will learn horse riding, depicting the British way of taming people and much more, that will make him a perfect bureaucrat and part of elite society. After this entire handsome grind he will be put in the pipe line of Sahibs and directed to domesticate people (because elite consider all other people undomesticated). Now, where will the aspirations and yearning for empowerment and emancipation of Dr. Faesal and his exploited people of Kashmir in general and Lolaab in particular will fit? This is a million dollar question. He will end as Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) or Deputy Commissioner (DC) of some remote and irrelevant area after completion of his baptism and will be made to sing the tune of political masters.
My humble submission to Dr. Faesal is that he has proved his ability in the highest echelons of the country’s administrative setup and made a point that inborn traits blended with hard work and dedication can make wonders but what I personally feel and sum up out of his earlier writings and present statements that he is not cast for the ‘yes minister’ job instead he is born to lead the younger generation of this land of exploited people. This suggestion of mine will offend many, particularly the near and dear ones of great Shah Faesal but unless some people will not sacrifice for the society and mankind, humanity will fade away and extremes of exploitation and anarchy will become order of the day. Dr. Shah, you are a jewel born out of the fertile land of Kashmir after many decades and if your abilities and qualities go waste by serving a rotten system, the people of Kashmir will be the most unlucky lot to loose such a golden opportunity and a learned leader. I will remind you of many people who qualified the earlier ICS and later IAS but proffered to server the people. I am sure you may have heard of Subhas Chander Bhose, Murarji Desai, Yeshwant Sinha, Syed Shahabudin, Syed Nqvi and many more young people who preferred to serve people by launching clean political and social organizations.
At the end I wish you luck and pray to Almighty that you get enough courage to serve the people in any capacity you choose and help in bringing the people of this land out of the clutches of exploitation and give them enough strength to stand against the exploiters in the garb of saviors donned in robes of democracy.