Darbar Move- the semiannual movement or perhaps more accurately the transfer of the seat of government and governance from Srinagar to Jammu and vice versa- has taken place. The move dating back to the time, when the state of Jammu and Kashmir was ruled by authoritarian despots, like Maharaja Ranbir Singh (1872) is as irrational and as bizarre as the time when the idea was incubated and the practice took hold. (The anachronism of the move is reflected in its nomenclature itself-evoking memories of royal courts and what have you). In this day and age, where there is talk of a borderless world, or a global village, wherein both time and space stand compressed, and where production and consumption are disaggregated globally and occur is different time-scapes simultaneously , the government shifts to Srinagar in summer and Jammu in winter!!
There is no rationale or sense to this movement other than a time worn and useless legacy of the past. Jammu suffers in summer because there is only a skeletal and residual apparatus of government in place there; Srinagar suffers for the same reason(s) in winter. The question is why does this anachronistic and useless movement take place? The reasons are manifold but the salient of these are vested interests that have developed and encrusted around this practice, political timidity to take on these vested interests, overall inertia and lethargy of the institution of government and to some extent the economics of durbar move.
Let us consider each reason.
Kashmir, recognized as the centre of gravity of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, would be the natural seat of government if the Durbar move were to be abolished. This would irk Jammuites and given vote bank politics, politicians do not touch the abrogation of the anachronistic practice of Durbar move. This reason gels with the aspect of political timidity. Overlaying these are institutional reasons like inertia of the government, fear of change and disturbing a precedent. Another important dimension is the economics of the move.
These set of reasons render the Durbar untouchable. This means that the people of the state will, as far as the eye can see, have to bear the brunt of the move. In this day and age, this constitutes a travesty. But, then, life and politics in Kashmir corresponds to what the lead character in the Hollywood movie Forrest Gump said, life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get. You know, they’ve got these chocolate assortments, and you like some but you don’t like others? And you eat all the ones you like, and the only ones left are the ones you don’t like as much? I always think about that when something painful comes up. Now I just have to polish these off, and everything’ll be OK.’ Life is a box of chocolates.
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