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.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The State of Governance in J&K: The Blind Leading the Lame

Harvard educated Chidambaram finds top J&K bureaucrats either ignorant or ill-informed

Top bureaucrats embarrassed Government during Chidambaram’s meeting

Srinagar: Incredible it may sound but it is a fact that top bureaucrats of the State are lacking even important information about their respective departments.

This came to fore during Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram’s meeting with Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, his Cabinet colleagues and all the top bureaucrats of the State, held in Srinagar on June 12. The meeting was convened as Mr Chidambaram wanted to take brief about State’s development.

As soon as meeting begun, Chief Minister made detailed presentation about the developmental programmes under implementation in the State. He touched all issues concerning State which includes unemployment, delay in start of work on Qazigund-Udhampur railway track, losses suffered by State due to Indus Water Treaty, construction of Shahpur Kandi Barrage by the Punjab Government and providing electricity share from Ranjit Sagar Dam to J&K, industrial scenario, four laning of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, simplification of cumber-some travel procedures across Line of Control (LoC), banking facilities for traders exporting goods across the LoC, restoration of Mansarovar Yatra through Ladakh, upgradation of infrastructure at Srinagar International Airport, two campuses of Central University and 6th Pay Commission.

According to the authoritative sources, following Mr Abdullah’s presentation, the Union Home Minister started posing questions directly to top bureaucrats to get more information on certain points.

But much to the surprise of all none of the top bureaucrats could reply upto the satisfaction of Union Home Ministry thereby giving an impression that J&K’s bureaucrats attend such high-level meetings ‘unprepared’, the sources said, adding every-time, the Chief Minister was seen covering up the failures of officers which clearly indicated that Mr Abdullah was more prepared than the officers.

The team which had come with the Union Home Minister was highly critical of the performance of the J&K’s top bureaucrats and expressed concern over the same, the sources said, adding even State Cabinet Ministers were feeling embarassed due to un-satisfactory replies by the top officers of their respective departments.

Financial Commissioner Planning, S L Bhat was not even aware of revenue receipts of the State and instead of giving satisfactory reply to the Union Home Minister, he preferred to pass on the question to Economic Advisor, Jaleel Ahmed Khan, sources said.

But Mr Khan was also not fully aware of the revenue receipts of the State and the figures which he revealed were far far lower than the actual figures, sources informed, adding "it is really shocking that even Economic Advisor to the Government is lacking important information about the finances of the State".

Another top bureaucrat—Commissioner Secretary, Power Development Department, Sandeep Naik also failed to give satisfactory reply to the Union Home Minister when the latter wanted to know as to how the State would manage equity for the power projects.

The ill-preparedness of the officers crossed all barriers when Commissioner Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department, Naseema Lankar could not inform Mr Chidambaram about the number of projects taken up in Housing and Urban Development sector, the sources further disclosed, adding Commissioner Secretary, Health and Medical Education, Atul Dullo was lacking information about ASHA workers.

(Daily Excelsior)

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