SRINAGAR: Kashmir Observer Tuesday reported that the Power Development Department (PDD) has, even after the Durbar move to Kashmir division of the state failed to revise the power curtailment program. A few weeks ago KO had similarly drawn attention to the abysmal condition of roads in Kashmir, inferring from this the nature of governance in Kashmir. KO has long held that government as an institution, generally speaking, is defined by inertia all over the world. Kashmir or the state of Jammu and Kashmir is no exception but, in fact, given that the state is in the throes of conflict, this adds a layer to an inert institution. We, however, now review this analysis. And our peg for this review is an old but classic aphorism, Where there is a Will, there is a way.
We will elaborate upon the relevance of this aphorism to the condition(s) that obtain in Kashmir.
While the fact that Government as an institution is defined by inertia holds and remains, but it does not mean that Governments cant or dont do anything. It would take a visitors (not even an experts) eye to notice the vibrancy of Government (of course, in relative terms) as one travels beyond out of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Visible and quantifiable public works, relative responsiveness of public officials, complaints and timely redressals of grievances and complaints and other measures and indices of government performance are vastly superior to the ones in Kashmir. What explains this? Obviously there is something to government and governance in places other than Kashmir. We will return to this point later but for now we will dwell on the reasons why government and governance are poor in Kashmir.
We now believe that while the conflict is or can be a impediment to smooth functioning of government, it has over time become a fig leaf and an excuse for non performance. Conflict is a constant in Kashmir but it cannot be the variable that affects government and governance here. There appears to be more than conflict that is responsible for abysmal governance in the state. Corruption, lack of accountability, lack of transparency, and a negligible involvement by powers that be in the government and governance affairs of Jammu and Kashmir may be the real culprit. Whilst we have no real proof to corroborate this assertion or even analysis, and the thrust of our analysis is inferential, it would appear that powers that be that deal with Kashmir do not want to rile or rub Kashmiris the wrong way when it comes to governance- especially the corruption component of either. This naturally impacts transparency and accountability and as a result government becomes ossified and governance decrepit.
The overall inference is that this state of affairs is tolerated because of the conflict. So conflict in and over Kashmir , in a perverse manner, is responsible for the state of governance especially in the Kashmir division of the state. By extension, this means that this will continue in the future as far as the eye can see. The question is: if our assessment is correct, is this approach a prudent one? Will this approach in the nature of placating Kashmiris by tolerating corruption and lack of transparency and accountability prevent the relapse of militarized conflict in Kashmir? The answer is a resounding NO. This approach will create a rentier class- a tine class of people who will benefit from it- and exclude the vast majority who will be the victims of mis-governance and the attendant problems which will only cascade with the passage of time. This approach then is a short sighted and myopic one that will only create more problems. The need of the hour then is to review it and implement a vigorous and dynamic governance program in Kashmir. Let a beginning be made with bijli and sadak. The rest might follow.
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.