Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Can Government Jobs Deliver Efficiency?

Tanvir ignores the fact that even the best government bureacracies in the world do not match up to private sector for efficiency and customer-friendliness

(Mr. Tanvir Sadiq, 31, was born in Srinagar and attended the Burn Hall School. He completed his Bachelor's degree in Information technology and management from Orissa University. He is the youngest Municipal Corporator of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and was elected from Zadibal Constituency. He has contributed regularly to local newspapers like the Kashmir Times, Kashmir Images, Greater Kashmir, and Kashmir Monitor. He was associated with many programs on Disaster Management of J & K and did a couple of programs on highlighting urban poverty. He is active in State politics and his interests are writing and social work.)

An Inept Bureaucracy

It has been my attempt to write my feelings as events unfold. As a result, many of my posts are political whereby I offer my analysis of the current political happenings in Kashmir. Some other posts are non-political while others are outright silly. I do not attempt to be an all knowing person, but I do have a fair knowledge of the political atmosphere brewing in Kashmir. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I am involved in politics myself.

Today I would like to further develop a couple of the ideas that I have been writing about in the last little while. My goal is to analyze in detail all the possible employment and developmental avenues for Kashmir, and this I seek to accomplish by presenting my case in a series of write ups where I will try to develop each idea as comprehensively as I can. This post is going to deal with an issue that I consider is of utmost importance if we seek to utilize our limited resources wisely. It deals with remedying our over-burdened and inefficient government service by curtailing the operations of inefficient departments.

I have mentioned in my earlier posts that we all are aware that most Kashmiris would rather be employed in the government services if they could get a chance. This seems to be the norm and I do not fault anyone for desiring a stable and sustainable form of income. In particular, the last two decades have seen this as the only source of income that was unaffected by the turmoil. Government servants are guaranteed to receive their paychecks regardless of whether they show up at office or not. Who would not desire such an easy source of income? I salute the new CM for getting down to business from day one, and sending a clear message that non-punctuality and absenteeism will not be tolerated in the government workers anymore.

Although this will send a clear message to the government employees to show up for work and they will be in office as required, a closer look is needed to get to the root of this lack of interest in work. In my opinion, some departments are useless and an unnecessary drain on our limited resources. Would it not be more sensible to reallocate the focus areas of these departments that would be more in tune with what the more pressing issues facing our governments are? I would like to emphasize that I am not advocating the dismissal of any government employees but what I am suggesting is re-assigning them different tasks that would make their jobs more useful to Kashmir.

For instance, even though we have had the department of floriculture and horticulture for many decades in the valley, yet, how come we are not even on the map of the world producers of cut-flowers? or why is it that our fruit growers are still utilizing ancient techniques in growing fruits when the same acreage is capable of producing hundred times more fruit than what they are at this time. Clearly, these departments have been unable to do adequate research in bringing technology from world leaders in these fields and educate our farmers in these new agricultural technology. For instance, New Zealand apple growers are capable of producing 400 times more apples per acre than our Kashmiri fruit growers. The main reason for this variance is that the New Zealand farmers were fortunate enough to be educated by "agriculture extension officers" as they are known there, in modernizing their production techniques.

Government officials should have the initiative to be innovative and have the vision to see what would make Kashmir more progressive in areas that their departments are concerned with. Instead of waiting for the CM to spoon feed them and pull them by their fingers. It is easy to follow orders but if they really want to earn their wages and excel in their jobs, then they have to start thinking out of the box and start thinking of ways of bringing in new technology from other parts of India and overseas and adapting it to be more suitable to Kashmir. That was the whole reason why such departments were introduced to begin with, to modernize our agriculture. They have failed to deliver because I do not see Kashmir on the map of the world leaders in the production of fruits, or cut-flowers, or bulbs, or even sheep. Therefore it is time that we re-assign these departments other tasks that require critical attention at this time.

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