Administrative Apathy

A heart-rending  incident in consideration is the death of elderly person, waiting in a queue at Bandipora to fill his pension form

WHAT differentiates humans from animals in general is perhaps an emotion defined as “empathy” or what has been so recurrently celebrated in Urdu poetry as “dard-e-dil”. The feelings of kinship and filial ties rooted in biology are found in animal kingdoms too, but there it doesn’t attain the status of an ethical binding or a moral normative but remains tied to the basic necessities of survival instinct. But the bruising and irking happenings in our social sphere go on to erase this notion of empathy, humanity and care for others like a misspelt writing on the wall and therefore shake the very notion of humanity and humans as species of empathy and cooperation. A heart-rending  incident in consideration is the death of elderly person, waiting in a queue at Bandipora to fill his pension form. “A 62-year-old man died on Tuesday while waiting for verification of his credentials to get an old age pension at the social welfare office in Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir”, a report said.  The incident must serve the purpose of an eye opener and an emphatic reminder of the mishaps which we bear as a society on a daily basis. It must not be let down as another addition to the saddening saga of innumerable events which happen now and then, here and there, raising serious questions about the administrative efficacy and  moral sensitivity of the people. An attempt shall be made here to look both into the ethical and administrative fallouts of the episode.

It is nothing new that somebody has died in the process of meeting official requirements, complying with protocols, waiting for his work to get done or whatever category you bracket it under. The largest maternity hospital in the valley – LD hospital has turned into a spectre of death for a long time now, quoting just two reports to unveil the gravity of the situation . Search engines are filled with such news items and the goriness of the situation is lost to nobody but the tragic fact remains that these episodes go down as news items and are forgotten within a week’s time. Humans, human dignity, care for human lives ought to be paramount and if there is anything which all administrative machinery ought to safeguard and promote, it is human well being and the elimination of human sufferings. But what shall be thought of a state where people are made to run from pillar to post for trifling issues and the administrative indifference reaches such heights that the issues remain unattended for days, weeks and months. The humanitarian aspect and a sympathetic approach is an urgent requirement in administrative affairs and officials need to step out of administrative red-tapism to feel the sufferings and issues of people, to address them on emergency basis and to seek ways and means to create convenience and comfort for people instead of multiplying their worries and adding to their woes. The need to tilt the attention of administrator’s towards this facet arises not only in the backdrop of the recent Bandipora incident, but in the larger landscape of operation of our administrative set-up.

The change in ethical outlook and moral attitude isn’t enough when speaking about changes in administrative workings and when a systemic change is aimed at. This invariably directs our attention to the administrative reforms themselves and the presence of self-correcting mechanisms within the system itself. Accountability has improved during the present dispensation, but the scope for improvement always remains and there is both the need and necessity to improve accountability of officials, to train them to be people centric and place public convenience and the redressal of public issues ahead of everything. Officials need to realise that they exist for the public service and all the perks and privileges they enjoy are subjected and dependent upon their readiness to address public issues, to create convenience for the masses and not to misuse their power, position and privilege. It is high time that this tragic episode awakens the administrators and officials to their roles and responsibilities and doesn’t leave open any spot of error wherefrom tragedies of this sort may creep in into the fabric again.

Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer

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Amir Suhail Wani

The author is a writer and columnist

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