I have two basic objectives in writing this letter. One is to empower the individual over the institutions that surround him/her and which at present make him feel helpless, desperate and humiliated. Secondly, to re-inforce our faith and trust in our democratic institutions by proving that if fully and directly put to use, they can still deliver goods and produce results. These two objectives can be achieved if one has a proper understanding of one’s own problem, which has invariably personal as well as collective dimensions attached to it.
Similarly, a good understanding of the functioning of our institutions and their spirit, which have in-built checks, balances and separation in the exercise of power in order to prevent its abuse is also necessary. The systems have their self-corrective mechanisms too. The inherent virtues of our institutions are intact, even though, the rules and regulations and the procedures adopted have become archaic, as they were borrowed from the colonial administration, which had a profound distrust of the individual.
Our administration needs many reforms of repeal and simplification of rules and regulations. Meanwhile, in order to wade through them, the individual should have, above all, enough of self-esteem, courage and perseverance to obtain the right kind of information in order to solve the problem by himself or herself. The first objective of empowering the individual over the institutions is like helping him to domesticate a wild horse. It is tough but it is rewarding.
The second objective is to convince the rider that the wild horse is worth owning and keeping it in his stable. We have to start with faith in men and women who are operating these mechanisms. By and large, they deserve it. The citizen can, at the same time, dispense with the dependence on political middlemen and those in power whose quality and integrity became very poor.
We cannot however, pretend that this direct approach by the individual alone is sufficient; but it is a necessary pre-condition to improve our quality of life. The individual’s direct action is warranted to remedy the two following unhealthy trends in our contemporary society. People are desperately in search of counter powers. Why? The institutional power is being used by the politicians and the bureaucrats for their own benefit and in the minds of the public; there is a firm conviction that those who hold power use it for themselves only.
Some very innocently, come to social workers seeking to obtain their support, which according to them should neutralize the power currently acting against them i.e. some kind of counter-power. They want this so-called counter-power also to promise them to do everything to satisfy them, like the politician, without expecting the social worker to think whether what is solicited is in the general interest of the society or whether it is according to the rule of law.
Seekers of this counter-power are willing to pay, since they know that the hostile institutional power is working only on the basis of money. In other words, he expects even the social worker to become another political actor and produce results. In both the above-described situations, one thing is very clear. Not many people have faith in the institutions that we have around us, that they could render and that they would render only justice, without being manipulated.
I have tried to give a mind to people connected with civil society and hope this is what one can do in present political and executive set up in Jammu & Kashmir State which has been ranked as number one as the most corrupt states in the country. The present situation is one of the main reasons among others which has hurt the youth who could not be provided better deal and treatment thus a drift to other side which seems to be is at a point of no return.