Raouf Rasool

Pot calling the kettle black!

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For the past some time now, and particularly after some shady recruitments in Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB) and elsewhere came to light, National Conference (NC) working president Omar Abdullah has been accusing the PDP-BJP government of “destroying public institutions” in the state by sidelining legal and established recruitment processes. The trend, he says, is marring the merit and leaving future of the youth in the hands of "corrupt politicians".

Even though there is lot of merit in Omar Abdullah’s allegations, but then this is something that has all along been a characteristic feature of governance here. Omar Abdullah himself cannot escape this blame, for the sheer reason that his own government – when he was Chief Minister of J&K from 2008-2014 was no different. His government also did everything it could to destroy public institutions not only through shady recruitments but by all other means as well.

Corruption and nepotism is certainly not exclusive to the current dispensation, it was the order of the day during Omar Abdullah’s tenure also. In his government too, appointments didn’t happen on merit. One can go on counting countless instances during his stewardship wherein merit was simply sidelined, not only in the lower-rung officialdom but even in top institutions including even the universities just to accommodate blue-eyed persons and the kith and kin of the then ruling elite – the NC-Congress combine.

So it is not that the corruption in recruitments, for instance, is something unique, and is happening now only; this has been there all along. The problem with the kind of political culture prevalent here is that every single actor wants the people to believe that s(he) and their party are sided with the angels while as all others are just crooks and thugs! But the reality is that in Kashmir’s political amphitheatre there are no sacred cows. Power comes with certain privileges and perks, and always with sufficient leverage to break and bend rules to secure one’s ends. Thus far there is not a single party or individual worth even name who could claim moral high ground on this count.

So while there is some substance in his allegations, but coming in from someone like Omar Abdullah certainly takes away much of punch and appeal from it. The reason being that when he had a chance and could have created a different template, he did not! So today whatever he says to target the current regime can be flipped over inwards towards him and his government too – and there he is also seen cutting as very sorry figure!

Omar Abdullah claims “when our government was in power, we gave due credence to all the set procedures and every recruitment was as per merit.” One can’t help but laugh away at this assertion with absolute disdain -- because this is nothing but a brazen lie. His government has been no different than the current one, or for that matter the previous ones headed by his father or grandfather or someone else. Unfortunate though, but it is true that successive governments in J&K have all been involved in corruption and nepotism, and in other shady deals which have subverted the set norms and procedures not only in matters of recruitments but on all other counts as well.

Lord Acton’s famous words – “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” – are kind of prophetic for Kashmir’s political culture. Here the absolute freedom to bend and break rules and indulge in all sorts of corruption comes naturally and necessarily with political power. And our politicians of all hues and leanings have always made best of this windfall. In fact general public’s ‘frame of reference’ is completely blank for want of a political figure or a party which could be assigned the aura of infallible integrity in matters of governance, including of course affecting the recruitments on merit. Indeed one of the major causal factors for continuation and prolongation of political conflict in Kashmir is high incidence of corruption and almost absolute lack of transparency in governance here.

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