Confused priorities

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The State administration headed by Governor has completed six months here, but as of now it too has not been able to bring about any visible change in the culture and pattern of what people have been getting here in the name of governance. Even though in his speeches and pronouncements – if one is to discount the controversies they generated – Governor Satya Pal Malik had generated some hope among the people about the quality of governance improving here, but for some reasons it didn’t happen. The reality is that the governance-deficit here dates back to years and the six months’ tenure of the incumbent administration too is seen cumulatively with past several years of bad and insensitive governance, and not in isolation by the common people. This should possibly explain why the ordinary have-nots are getting increasingly impatient with the current scheme of things and losing it with each passing day.

Now this should indeed be a cause of worry for the incumbent administration. But as on date, even this does not seem to be happening. All people have got thus far is just political speeches and assertions while the ground situation continues to remain as resistant to change as it has ever been. A few good decisions taken during this time have either been rescinded or not acted upon. And the result in the nutshell is that there is no change at all in the overall governance and the administrative culture. Corruption is as rampant as it has ever been; unaccountability as pervasive as ever. Our roads and streets continue to remain in shambles. Minor drizzles still flood our drains and subsequently our roads. Encroachment of government lands, including the lakes, lagoons and other water-bodies and forests remains as rampant. Deadly confrontations between the government forces and civilian population happen almost every single day in some or the other area of the Valley. And to cap it all partisan politics which pits one region and religion against the other also continue to be played unabated. So where is the change? Has anything really changed at all? Mind it term ‘change’ itself singularly remains the major USP of every person and each party who comes to head the state, including the political governments not of the Governors alone.

The Governor and his administration will have to understand that Jammu and Kashmir is a very small place and people here have, over the years, learned to read through the politics. So even though the political symbolism means a lot here, but expecting the people to be satiated and satisfied just by this symbolism is way too farfetched. For instance, people may buy that this administration wants to do some real good work; but unless and until they see that “good work” happening on the ground, they are not going to be amused by anything. Instead of falling victim to the confused and disjointed priorities, it will be worthwhile to put money where the mouth is. Near obsession with one single factor and sector of the Kashmir politics, is dangerous. There are other areas which are badly craving for attention. Take for instance, the power sector. Despite successive governments having repeatedly said that the state has a potential to generate over 20,000 MW of hydro-power, Jammu and Kashmir continues to reel under perennial power shortages. The state is yet to reach a stage wherein it could suffice even the local energy needs. Although this is not to say that the state doesn’t generate that much of hydroelectricity. It certainly does. But instead of satiating the local requirements, the same energy is supplied to mainland India to light homes and super-engines of industrial development there.

In case of power sector, one can certainly point fingers at the New Delhi’s “discriminatory and exploitative” policies, but successive administrations in the state too cannot escape blame of their own inherent inabilities and inefficiencies. This is where the current dispensation must share the responsibility of failures of previous regimes – and try and initiate corrective measures so that people too get to see something concrete happening on the ground.

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