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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kashmir's Endemic Malignancy

Sahil is not simply idealistic but a pragmatist who believes that corruption inhibits prosperity

(Mr. Sahil Showkat, 24, was born in Badripora Naina Sangam, near Awantipora, in Pulwama district. He graduated from the Government Degree College in Anantnag, and his post graduation in Political Science from the University of Kashmir. He is currently a M. Phil. scholar in the Department of Political Science, University of Kashmir.)

Corruption in Public Life

''In the multitude of crisis, political and economic, that face us; perhaps the greatest of all is that of the human spirit. Till this crisis of this spirit is resolved it will be difficult to find a solution for the other crisis that afflict us.''

For the last fifteen years, there have been growing indications that corruption has stormed all aspects of our public life. It has become obvious that corruption is no longer a question merely of individual moral turpitude. Now it has become so wide spread that it has pierced into vitals of our economy, polity and society. It is cutting across every organization of all levels from top to bottom.

In Jammu and Kashmir corruption has seeped into the blood stream of Kashmiris. The Transparency International has now upgraded the people of J&K to the first position among the most corrupted states of India. It has been said that corruption is the deadliest enemy of good governance. It has taken several forms like bribe, nepotism, misappropriation, patronage and favoritism. The worst form of corruption is the political corruption because every thing depends upon the chief executive of an organization and it is more so for a political organization. If the top is clean, the bottom will have to get cleaned. If the top is dirty the cleanliness can’t be expected at the bottom. It is often believed that politicians and public officials also come from the society and so, the character of the politicians is the manifestation of the nation’s character itself. This situation can only be improved by a general character of the people. But it appears to be not a correct approach and it deemed to be the worthless appraisal of this prevailing crisis. Although it is explicitly true, that the character of the people in general, will influence of our public officials, they are not in fact, directly related to each other.

Undoubtedly, it would be far from truth to add that the vast majority of our people are corrupt or wanting in character. At the same time, it can not be denied that the majority of our senior public officials are corrupt. In other words it is true to say that the proportion of corrupt officials increases as we move top to the hierarchy of the bureaucracy. As such, it would be true to say that more than 90% of our central or state ministers are corrupt and the percentage of corrupt officials of the lower level would definitely be less. The recent dramatic Tehalka episode exposed what most of the people apprehended already that corruption has encroached the highest management of the government and that our defense forces are not even freed from this slow poisoning. In fact, there is also widespread corruption in defense procurement, stock exchanges, film world, revenue departments, cricketing community and in political establishments exposed in the form of power and committing criminal offences.

Now, the question arises what are the factors which are encouraging or promoting the corruption in public life. There are four such important factors, one is the, lack of transparency in public dealings, second is the public officials are still taking bribes because there is no law, rule or convention, compelling or encouraging public officials to lay open there income and assets to the people. Third factor is the dysfunctional of the system of lokpal and the fourth and the most important cause is the denial of right to information--what is happening in indoors and lack of vigilance.

Now, so far we have talked about the problems/factors of corruption. It becomes obvious to look upon the way out of corruption from the public life. First of all let's go to the institutional reforms because the persons in authority are not interested in any of these measures, which would restrict their independence to taking bribes and involve in all kinds of illegal activities. Second thing is the electoral reforms. Clean and fair elections are the very foundation of democracy and any attempt to upgrade the system, will have to begin with reducing the dependency of all political parties on unaccounted money. Thirdly, as far as our financial structure is concerned the full implementation of right to information is needed. Fourth, effective vigilance is also important and last but not the least is the role of media about the creating awareness in the public about the growing menace of corruption.

Thus, to conclude we can say that fair governance is the fundamental right of the citizens of a particular state. The above mentioned measures will go along way in ensuring the fulfillment of the same. Collective campaign against the menace is essential to do the needful.

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