SRINAGAR: The Durbar has moved to the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. In anticipation of the shift of Government to Srinagar, about a week ago or ten days ago, there was a flurry of activity in Srinagar city; zebra crossing signs were being painted on roads and so were other signs on road sides and what have you. These kinds of work(s) which neither fall in pure public works nor development work are thematic and are in the nature of cosmetic measures to make the city sexy. Allied to these kinds of work was a degree of activity by various departments of the state: the police, traffic police and other visible apparatii of the state. The overall impression that these works and activity gave was government in action- howsoever cosmetic or skin deep. This impressionistic activity has been missing from Kashmir division of the state since the past six months. Now that the Durbar has shifted to Kashmir, there is a semblance of government.
All this raises a few important questions. The most salient of these are: does Government matter in Kashmir? And, hypothetically speaking, if the Government matters and if the impressionist activity carried by it in the prelude to Durbar move is an indicator of the existence of Government in Kashmir, will this activity be sustained?
Yes, of course, Government matters-everywhere. Kashmir is no exception but the intensity and degree of its importance to Kashmir varies. In a way, Kashmir, albeit in a perverse way is a market polity. What is meant by this phrase with respect to Kashmir is that market forces , not in the pure economic sense but in a haphazard, unorganized way determine the tenor of economic and perhaps even political life in Kashmir. It is people as somewhat rational agents that determine the scope and intensity of social, political and economic life. Given that the nature and scope of this activity is unorganized, every domain of life in Kashmir is disorganized , ad hoc and random too. Does the make the government superfluous? Yes and No. Yes, because the government in Kashmir is so defined by inertia and insipidness that it exists or its presence is felt at the margins of life in Kashmir. But because Kashmir is define by conflict in and over it, the police aspect of Government is more prominent here.
This inevitably and axiomatically has an impact on Governance and governance activities in the state especially in Kashmir. Because Government in Kashmir is peripheral and marginal to the lives of people, and because it is defined by inertia, governance momentum can only happen at the time of the shift of Government for an n number of reasons. Governance, in the final analysis, is as good as Government and vice versa. So if government as an institution is insipid, governance will be lame as well. This is the pedestrian and prosaic reality of government and governance in Kashmir. In the final analysis, we, the denizens of Kashmir can be spectators to what is essentially a spectacle after the Durbar Move. Then to , take recourse to a word play, Durbar moves will just be Durbar moves with neither substance nor significance to them. Alas!
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.