Focus on the real issues
From past few days, the Lt. Governor Girish Chandra Murmu has been visiting different district headquarters of Kashmir Valley as part of his “Public Outreach Programme” where he interacts with different delegations, reviews developmental scenario with district administrations and inaugurates different projects or lays foundation stones for such projects. During all these meetings, the Lt Governor has been asserting that people’s participation and empowerment of grass root institutions are prerequisite for the sustainable development of any region. He has regularly been stressing that the UT government is implementing the “best practices in people-centric governance with progressively increasing people’s participation and improved public service delivery system through transparent, accountable and citizen-friendly administration.”
While one has but to appreciate this outreach programme but at the same time there are many questions begging for answers. The administration of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is being run by the Lt. Governor, his advisors and a few bureaucrats. Each and every decision is being taken by them. Where is the peoples’ participation? Take, for instance, the administration’s decision regarding amending Control of Buildings Operations Act, 1970 to notify ‘strategic areas’ in the Union Territory for the armed forces. Though the administration has come up with a clarification in a bid to dispel the reservations expressed by some major mainstream political parties, the doubts remain. The reason being, there is no connect between the public and the administration and when there is no connect, there undoubtedly is no trust. One may ask a simple question – what is the hurry to make such decisions? Isn’t Jammu and Kashmir, at the moment, facing an existential battle in the wake of Covid-19? Hasn’t J&K’s economy been shattered completely because of post-August 2019 disturbances and the pandemic? Shouldn’t the administration be focusing more on these existential issues instead of hurrying to make decisions that create doubts in the minds and psyche of the commoners? Shouldn’t such decisions be left to be made by elected government?
Coming to administration’s dealing with Covid-19. The pandemic is spreading its tentacles on a dangerous pace. Here again the main stake holders are missing from the scene. Covid-19 is not a mere law and order problem about which decisions should be made by police or bureaucrats. It is a health hazard and therefore the health experts, scientists and doctors should be on the forefront. When to impose restrictions and when to relax the same should be a decision made in consultation with the health experts and the administration should only function as an executing agency. However, unfortunately, here too the real stake holders are visible nowhere. Situation has reached such a stage that people in dire need of life saving drug Remdesivir are running from pillar to post. The drug is not available and there is no word from the administration that how and when it is going to make the drug available in the market.
While appreciating Lt Governor’s effort to reach out to the people in different districts, the commoners would doubly appreciate if the administration, for the time being, focuses on the real challenges that Jammu and Kashmir is face to face with. Time is running fast and if the administration fails to deal with the challenge of Covid-19, the UT may be heading towards a terrible disaster.