Those who dare, pay

When people are rendered subservient to systems, it is a sign of caution!

Asma Majid
Srinagar, Publish Date: Nov 21 2018 12:04AM | Updated Date: Nov 21 2018 12:04AM
Those who dare, pay

“Change is the only constant thing in life.” So remarked Heraclitus, the ancient Greek Philosopher. Change is indeed inevitable. But, the only time we admire change is when things change for good or when change leads to betterment. The other way round, changes often frighten us. Ironically, human beings suffer from a severe kind of adaptability issue – that is., once they get accustomed to a thing, it’s quite hard for them to change their ways. Yet, the biological homeostasis has a mental variant too where human mind strives hard to attain mental stability vis-a-vis the changing circumstances.

Research has shown that in spite of being scattered in the world and having been nurtured into different cultures and belonging to numerously varied heritages, people have the same emotions and feelings world over. Having achieved the gratification of the basic needs, human beings instinctively strive for recognition and progress. Kashmiris being no exception, adhere to the same principle. 

It was on 8th February 2018 when government announced transfers in the police department and appointed Basant Rath, an IPS officer of J&K cadre and a post-graduate in Sociology from Bhubaneswar, as the Inspector General of traffic police in Jammu and Kashmir. He came at a crucial time when roads in the state were fast turning unmotorable due to burgeoning vehicular mass, decades-old infrastructure and traffic bottlenecks caused by illegal parking and encroachment of roads. A ray of hope, Mr. Rath appeared as a boon for the common people and a monster to the public transporters who had long been sucking the blood of the commoners, taking advantage of their constraints as they depended on the public transporters for travelling from one place to another. Time passed and Rath became a household name. Young and old chanted the name of Rath, highly adoring and admiring him for his fortitude and dedication in the work he had undertaken. In turn, Mr. Rath tried his best to be as accessible to commoners as he could via social media platforms. His diligence startled the public transporters who threatened to go on a strike in response to Rath’s staunch traffic measures. The unalterable traffic scenario began to assume an air of change and the inexpugnable position of the public transporters seemed to have received a blow. Slowly, Rath ceased to be a name and became a synonym to change and progress.

Basant Rath’s inimitable work and his amiable behaviour earned him the sobriquets like “Singham” and “Dabang”. But, the man who brought about a positive change in Kashmir himself became a victim of change. He had for long been in limelight for his controversial columns, for failing to maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty, for interacting with media without making it all times clear that the views expressed therein are his personal and not that of the government, and for adversely criticizing the current/recent policies of the government. Immediately after taking over as IGP Traffic in J&K, Rath found himself embroiled in a fresh controversy for his “flamboyant” style of issuing appeals and warnings – that were aimed at everyone, ranging from police officials and bikers who refuse to wear helmets to (in his words) "politically well-connected individuals". 

While Rath’s work and words went too well with the common people, they drew flak from those who were directly or indirectly related to them. Nevertheless, this dedicated soldier never ceased to be true to his work and his self. In one such incident, without caring about the serious repercussions of his tweets, Mr. Dabang  outrightly expressed his likeness for Javed Miandad (Pakistani cricketer) in response to the Indian Cricket Team captain Virat Kohli’s statement cum insinuation that liking players other than those of India will tantamount to sedition. The icing on the cake came as Rath again tweeted in response to the newly appointed Mayor Junaid Mattoo which did not seem to go too well with the latter. And there again emerged a change! Basant Rath was transferred and replaced by Alok Kumar as the new IGP traffic. 

Whoever goes against the flow is always curbed and suppressed by the ones with power. We need a positive change and whoever tries to bring about a good change irritates the authorities like a speck in the eye, which, if not removed might cause greater irritation. What we ought to understand is that it is not a speck in the eye but a ray of light that tries to enter the eye, trying to enable it to see things from a fresh perspective. But, the torpid vision of the slumbering  authorities disables them to see things anew. Let us allow this light to enter our eyes and gear up for a new vision. If one daring person can pose a threat to the decades-old, hackneyed and unalterable system, few of the same kind can uproot it altogether! Systems are meant to serve people. Systems need to submit to the needs of people. When people are rendered subservient to systems, it is a sign of caution!

(The author is pursuing Masters in English Literature from University of Kashmir)

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