The renunciation of the Indian Administrative Service by Shah Faesal to join politics doesn’t seem quite the supreme sacrifice it is being made out to be. After all, many have used the administrative services as a stepping stone to positions of greater power.
But the reasons Shah Faesal has cited for giving up his job lay bare the fact that, unlike a certain novice from earlier times, the former IAS officer is a seasoned politician already.
A man who spent years preparing for the civil services (no cakewalk exam) has suddenly woken up to the “marginalization and invisiblisation of around 200 million Indian Muslims at the hands of Hindutva forces reducing them to second-class citizens”?
Surprisingly, how Faesal could have skipped the references to the economic and social mariginalisation of the Muslim community in the multiple books and articles he would have referred to while studying to become an IAS officer. How did Faesal not see that the politics of appeasement — under what, according to him, are ‘secular forces’ — subjected a whole community to an eternal life of deprivation?
Making “insidious attacks on the special identity of the JK state” a ground for his resignation, Faesal seemingly wants Kashmiris to entirely forget that it was a ‘secular’ government that reportedly rigged the 1987 elections in the state he hails from, throwing the Valley into the throes of an insurgency that has ebbed and flowed since thenTo the ever acutely rebellious and lately fearless Kashmiri youth, this is where Shah Faesal comes in. And, this is also where he is apparently locating himself when he speaks of an attempt to reimagine electoral politics in Kashmir, to help resuscitate it. It is another matter that the state’s politician governor says Faesal could serve the people better as a bureaucrat.
“What do you do to people, you give them roads, you give them water supplies, you give them electricity but you snatch their sense of dignity, you disempower them, you depoliticize them,” Faesal told India Today TV. “What do you do with that?”
This is the right question, similar to what all other Kashmir-based political groups have asked at different stages since elections were reinstated in 1996.
Now, Faesal hopes to mainstream Kashmiri youth and stem, possibly even end, their alienation but without summoning the “strength of character” to confront what many of them see as a deadly military occupation of their homeland. Isn’t this what all the mainstream political groups from the entire spectrum in Kashmir have been saying, in addition to their peddling the constructs of “autonomy”, “self-rule” and “achievable nationhood”?
Even as Faesal wants to be an addition to the spectrum, he brings it nothing more than his own ambition to climb up the ladder of state power. In the end it is all about himself rather than Kashmir. Time spent at Harvard can help shine a light on a lot of issues, and help you to hope, understand and see more. But India-Kashmir-Pakistan is the business of another school of politics.
All violence in Kashmir is contained in the status quo that has an unimaginably huge appetite for swallowing so-called Kashmiri icons . Meanwhile, Faesal also wants to help youths in Kashmir clear the exam — for the very service he has so disdainfully quit.
The Views expressed by the author are his own