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.

Friday, October 2, 2009

An Incurable Malady

Fida is a concerned citizen who sees the evil of growing corruption in an atmosphere full of dishonesty and nepotism

(Mr. Fida Iqbal, 47, was born in Sopore. He attended the D.A.V. School in Nayadyaar, Rainawari, and the Government Higher Secondary School in Sopore. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in Agriculture/Floriculture and Landscaping from Chowdhry Chottu Ram College at Muzaffarabad Nagar in Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Iqbal works with the Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Department as a landscape architect. He enjoys kitchen gardening, reading writing, and is very a passionate and dedicated golf player.)

Confronting Corruption

Decades after independence the true face of democracy is eluding us due to lack of impartiality and sincerity within the system of governance. In every field of life the levels of transparency are lacking which otherwise should have been the essence of people’s governance we had opted in 1947 after a long battle. Dictatorship has its own unwritten rules; rules to encourage nepotism and favoritism to ensure fortification of the system of ruthless governance and the strengthening of dynastic rule.

Democracy is largely influenced by the thumb rule of equality with a great deal of honesty, impartiality and sincerity but the same is missing from the day first in our democratic system. May be early years of self-governance in our state being transitory in nature faced a number of bottle necks and administrative hiccups which compelled our leaders to make some compromises. But if records of last sixty years of popular governance are to be checked those are strewn with loads of unjustified favors to few selected ones. Every government aspect like appointments and elevations, providing of vital licenses and permits, benefits in industrial and other sectors, subsidies, government sponsored loans and allotment of government land is plagued with the bug of partiality.

Jammu and Kashmir has shouldered the burden of many heads of the governments since 1947 and everyone has knowingly or unknowingly allowed the nepots and sycophants to flourish with limitless (out of turn) benefits. Let us have a broader look over the wide political spectrum influencing the post independence era, excepting few everyone in collaboration with mighty and powerful have resorted to the unfair means of elevating their favorites and kin. Even popular mass leader like Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was not spared by the sycophants and was persuaded to make appointments and elevations; shower favors negating the fundamentals of peoples rule.

A casual look will reveal the facts that during past sixty years many politicians, bureaucrats and powerful people have rehabilitated their sons, daughters and kin on vital posts in the administration or have promoted them comfortably by other covert means. No one can deny this fact as records will reveal how rules were manipulated and norms floated. Exceptions are there but they have lost under the imposing shadow of rampant deceit, mistrust, partiality, dishonesty, insincerity, nepotism, and exploitation.

In the first instance let us scrutinize the government service sector. As I said first few years after 1947 were transitory so any deviation of norms can be brushed aside as minor abrasions but later years saw regime of favoritism where even least qualified were so craftily employed and elevated that they became baggage of elite state administrative services in later years. Some nepots who joined the government as simple receptionists ended up their carrier as head of the departments. Not as much qualified personal staff of ministers became development commissioners and line seniority drama was enacted for few to elevate them over the heads of many who were far senior to them. Rules were changed and tampered to accommodate loved ones. The only qualification taken into consideration while justifying these irregularities was relation to mighty and powerful.

For many years the regular selection of administrative service aspirants was shelved on one or the other alibi only to pave way for the favorites to enter through the back door. This brazen violation continued for many decades. In late eighties I asked one of the honest and upright bureaucrats’ of the state administration about the criterion for selection and deputation of assistant project officers (APO) and block developments (BDO) in rural development department , pat came the answer ‘these are political selections’. This was democratic governance administered by our elected representatives!

Every state department is full of these blooming favorites who have rewritten their fate and destiny with the active support of their masters and have become effective tools to fleece the common man. These preferred blue eyed people have become instruments of deceit and corruption as they are immune to all sort of accountability. Thus these chosen ones are responsible for polluting the whole democratic setup, fondly called ‘government by the people’ for lesser mortals. This is all mockery of people’s representation. How long this will continue only Almighty knows? No doubt democracy is the only practical solution for judicious and effective governance for civilized societies but this flawed democracy sometimes compels me to believe otherwise. At occasions it appears that it will be better to invite the legitimate heir of late maharajas of Kashmir to run the affairs of state than bearing the burden of this exploitation in the garb of democracy.

For last more than a decade as many back doors of appointment and elevation have been plugged by the awareness of common man a new ploy of ad hocism is used to promote preferred and discourages the eligible ones. Politicians and bureaucrats’ use this tactic not only to sponsor blue eyed people but to exploit the legitimate ones for their own interests. Own pay and grade (OPG) and additional charge system have become part of our administration just to brow beat the best ones and sponsor the favorites.

People of Jammu and Kashmir had pinned their hopes on the young and enthusiastic chief minister and were hope full that even if he won’t be able to deliver autonomy and self rule but at least he will cleanse the system of this nuisance of favoritism, unjustified elevations and ad hocism. Unfortunately this energetic young man was put to the grind at the start of his term; drained of his energy and enthusiasm and is being compelled to deliver the same old wine in new rosy bottles. Recent administrative reshuffles particularly in the civil administration gives a grim picture, where those old weary and some blue eyed people have been endorsed to run the affairs of the administration at vital positions. Additional charges have become order of the day.

It will be unfair to blame this young man of bias and pursuing the old line of favoritism and nepotism by choice it seems the old guards and masters make him to resort to it by compulsion and make him to tread into the fields of partiality unknowingly. If young chief minister really believes in delivering justice he has to listen only to his inner voice influenced by his Gen-X factor and advice of few young and energetic advisors and civil servants, otherwise those old political hawks and pampered bureaucrats will always be there on prowl to fulfill their unending urge of nepotism and favors. Being critical just for the sake of criticism will be unfair and unjustified but raising the right issue is duty of every conscious citizen. This young man is of different political stock called Gen-X and we should give him due space to make justified difference between right and wrong; people friendly and anti people agenda. Make him understand that everyone around him is not concerned for common man and his miseries, but yes many are there to rely upon. There are people of repute in his administration who have proved their worth not only on state level but on the national level as well, they need due consideration while deciding the peoples agenda.

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