IT is a common contention in Kashmir that influence and money can guarantee you a job, which means corruption is widespread, however, personally I was reluctant to believe these allegations, unless proven right. My aversion was primarily driven by the fact that it is always easy to target authorities for our own weaknesses. People dont work hard and then, someone has to be blamed for failures. This is partly true, because there are many genuine examples which suggest that not everything is shady. However, the newly identified corruption case of Mushtaq Ahmed Peer is significant and speaks volumes about the level of corruption in our state, which is categorically alarming. He was the former chairman of the Board of Professional Entrance Examinations (BOPEE) and has been arrested, because of his involvement in last years multi-million Common Entrance Test (CET) scam involving sale of papers. To keep things in a perspective, it is very important and significant to establish that Mushtaq Ahmad Peer was appointed as chairman (Italics, signify the sensitivity and importance of the positions held) BOPEE by the state Cabinet on February 28, 2009 and prior to that, he was the head of Department of Computer Sciences, University of Kashmir.
Since the accused officer has held some top ranking and extremely important offices in the past, the current disclosure simply means that everything related to him ought to be thoroughly investigated. Also, it equally suggests that probably his conduct was questionable since a long time; however, somehow he managed to escape that all these years. And also, there is no doubt in the fact that this scandal cannot be managed singlehandedly, therefore, there is a lot yet to surface and time will probably unearth the whole thing, however, only if sincere investigation is done.
Corruption is probably unavoidable in our day to day life and in Kashmir it has taken several shapes and shades. As a society, I personally think, we are to blame for it, because we have allowed it to flourish. Imagine, had there been no one to buy what Peer sells; he would have not succeeded in his wrongdoings. But, unfortunately, the grim reality remains that there are many buyers, who are always looking for lapses to capitalize on. When I was a student at Aligarh Muslim University, a few Kashmiri parents approached me and said that if I knew anyone who could help their wards to bypass the entrance test for 11th class. I think this is quite true for most of us and now, if we make a hue and cry about the current revelations that will be very surprising, ironical and mere hypocrisy. Thus, I was not surprised by this current exposure, primarily, because I think it has spread its tentacles and it is on its way to engulf us all if not checked timely.
How many times do we, through one-way or other, experience corruption on daily basis? Just to cite a simple example, when you visit a local hospital or even a private doctor, most of us will try to bypass the waiting time only to deceive those people, who have been waiting in queues for hours. This is very simple example; likewise, the list will go on and on.
Corruption is a deadly instrument and it not only weakens morality but also social fabric of a society and it spreads like a plague. Unfortunately, we always witness many scandals around us and in different institutions around the globe; however, is there a way to handle it and to make our institutes free and fair. In order to understand that we must recognize that corruption booms in an environment where its thriving ingredients are easily available, this includes, abuse of power, lack of accountability and weak administration. It is therefore required that we strengthen our system and work together to curb it, which however needs transparency, sincerity, morality, accountability and dedication as a driving force.
Transparency is very important for any work and it gives one enough freedom to be satisfactory or unsatisfactory with the system and also keeps room open for any kind of a clarification etc. This is particularly important for clients (e.g. students etc.), because they will understand their position by knowing answers to what, how and why etc. This needs sincerity as a backbone, because, if one is sincere to his job, nothing can bend his/her principles for a favor of any kind. Likewise, morality is an important element for the welfare of a society. It brings in a rare breed of people, who cannot compromise merit for anything, come what may. This is closely followed by accountability, where everything is accounted for and open to discussion, even the boss has to explain things to his subordinates if required and should not shy away from it.
All the above traits can only be effectively transmitted into a system if a dedicated team is at work to establish such an institution, because, there will always be some people who may weaken such an organization. Thus, one has to take a firm stand against any kind of corruption and work for it. Therefore, it is required to take a step forward and look around to establish such a system; otherwise, we all will burn in this fire if it is not extinguished in time.
Dr. Afroz Ahmad Shah is Senior Lecturer, Department of Applied Geology, School of Engineering and Science, Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia.
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