Friday, 4 April 2014

Is Kashmir a Land of Saints?

Kashmir is assumed to be a pir-waer and its implies values will count in every sphere. Here belief in God is shared by almost everyone. Here is a legacy of four religions and great literature all centred on values. What happens if we practically delink values from our lives is nothing short of death of soul if not of body as well in the long run. This death is what is imminent today in Kashmir and I think we have no moral right to call ourselves sons of the soil, the soil where shrines are on every nook and corner and saints used to rule the hearts and the minds. We were a pir-waer and are fast losing this identity if we don’t care to take values seriously. I take the example of economy delinked from values to state my case.
Three quotes to give an idea regarding what happens in a value centering culture with regarding to economics. Abu Yazid Bistami was asked what is the fatwa regarding how much money should one possess to be eligible for zakaat and percentage of income to be given as zakaat. He replied for the commoners 2.5% and for the khaas people none because they can’t imagine accumulating so much money for a year as they would find someone more. Gandhi says that there is enough for everyone’s want and not enough for even one man’s greed the first proposition with which every book of economic opens is resources are limited and wants unlimited. Aristotle says that Polis is for providing citizens means or opportunities to achieve perfection and not creation of wealth. ‘We don’t sell land as we don’t own it. It belongs to God,’ a native American told President of America. Incidentally one may remark that the proposition Al-arzu lillah (the earth belongs to God) may connote such a lofty land ethics besides the more often understood meaning that we can only use it for God’s glory or as He would like.
A value conscious economy would resist making education a commodity. It would question ethics of sending our children to private schools or opening educational institutions or say BEd colleges for selling the commodity called education. (The temptation to invest in such ventures is very difficult to resists for almost all of us). Education is not a commodity. Teachers can’t even be hired by the govt, ideally. Previously, as it has been noted, students would present hidyae dil to the teacher for the gift of teaching (community would maintain or pay for teaching services). Today a teacher presents a bill and announces deadline. One of the tuitionists (they should not be called teachers) used to hold a chalk and say the hand doesn’t move. Brain has no glucose to power it… Paise layayey. And students understood the meaning of the phrase “Money makes the mare go.”
A value conscious economy would be serious about community ownership largely replacing individual ownership and the cult of individualism. It would, in a community that calls itself Islamic,  require collecting and spending zakaat collectively. One form of community ownership is institution of zakaat. Zakaat is not charity but public money that can be forcibly taken by the community (or the State. Ideally the State disappears as both traditionalists and Marx envisage. Community replaces it). Javed Ghamdhi’s insightful ideas on zakat call for attention. We can easily make calculations on potential of such “community taxes” to significantly replace recognized interest based financial institutions. Community can own sizeable number of schools, buses, hospitals, vegetable, mutton, dairy farms etc. in a short span.
But it will be argued that, as part of globalized culture, we can’t be a competitive economy if we don’t delink values from profit or an economy wedded to larger national or international economy that has divorced values from economy. In response, I would ask for making a distinction between economy for profit and economy for life. The world is increasingly realizing impossibility or nonsustainability of modern economy divorced from values. Environment, we are fast deteriorating beyond repair. We must look towards Nepal or other poorer countries  also for appropriating certain values such as importance of Gross Happiness Index. Let development not be a key word but life.
  By way of conclusion I suggest one step to bring in the question of values: Because can’t afford the reign of Capitalism and soulless technologism that Marxism embraces. Reading Heidegger on technology should be part of syllabus here in Kashmir economics department at least as it is Heidegger who captures the soul of traditional Kashmiri culture informing every aspect of it.

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