A permanent resident may not have observed what I, as a temporary visitor, observe the change. With an intention to observe some transformations I took out for a walk in the morning after prayers. I observed many new constructions one after another, seemingly competing each other. Even a family of five to six members, possess a huge three storey house with 12 to 15 rooms. This is not what I saw only in my village but almost in all other villages.
I am not a pessimist denouncing the construction of houses in Kargil. Because shelter is one of the basic need of all animals including human animal. A “basic shelter” as a basic need should be the priority over many other things. But I would say that construction of “luxurious house” is ridiculous if prioritised over other essential things.
I find it “ridiculous” because many have given the preference to construction of “luxurious houses” over children’s education, future source of income, future planning, fertile agricultural land, and need of the society around him/her. Let me explain all these points one by one.
Firstly, many people have chosen to build a luxurious house and a car over a quality education of his children. In a random observation of many villages in the suburbs of Kargil town I found many people deprived their children from a reputed school or from higher education outside Kargil. In this case your children, when become a wo/man, will be less or unproductive. Your future will fall in risk.
Secondly, if your children are having a quality education it is still not guaranteed that they will get a good job. Because, now every household have a number of people holding Bachelor, Master, and PhDs degrees. So, in a zero industrialised area like Kargil or in whole Jammu and Kashmir the government would not be able to ensure good job for each and every one. My argument would be reliable if you look at the number of unemployed youth in Kashmir valley, which is relatively much higher than other states of India. In this case you need to save this money to make an investment for your future generation to come. Or you have to invest the money in such a way that they produce a good economic return for you. Because, building an expensive house is not going to give you a return revenue.
Thirdly, construction of such a huge house has been spoiling fertile agricultural lands. At the same time, I came to know that many people have sold their lands to finance the construction of “unnecessarily luxurious” house. In this case we are depriving our future generation from their rights for our prolonged selfish desires. And the higher middle class (because Kargil currently don’t have an economic higher class) who is purchasing those lands are getting richer day by day, creating a wide gap between rich and the poor.
Fourthly, if you have enough money to fund both your children education and to invest to make their future secure you have another responsibility. It is your ethical, moral, rational and religious duty to look after those who need your money more than you. The poor who can’t make their bread, shelter and education are those whose bread has been reached to your dinning table. According to Imam Ali (a.s.), if someone has received more rizaq than what he actually needed than consider that someone’s right has been deprived. Allah and the Apostles (peace be upon them), don’t want you to close your eyes on the poor. You are the chosen one by God to deliver other’s right; and this is really a privilege and pleasure for you. If you remain deaf to them the God will be displeased.
Many of my respondents said that a “big house is needed to facilitate people on “rallphut” (public events). Yes, this is really a weighty need of the hour. But, construction of a community hall would fulfil the need while saving huge investment and agricultural lands. Houses should be small and the events should conduct in community halls which could be constructed to suit the events. I hope this topic will open for debate among intellectuals, clerics and community leaders in all villages to mitigate this unnecessary ridiculous competition.
The author (Anwar Ali Tsarpa) is a PhD scholar at Nelson Mandela centre for Conflict Resolution and Peace Building. The article was first published in weekly Voice of Ladakh Volume – 6 | Issue – 12 on 26 May 2018.