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, February 19, 2010

Upgrading the State Vigilance Commission (SVC)

An Editorial in the Greater Kashmir argues in favor of extending the national law to the State through adoption in the State Assembly


The setting up of the State Vigilance Commission (SVC) on the pattern of the Central Vigilance Commission is a good decision; one that can be counted as a step towards providing good governance to the State. Surely it is meeting the people’s long pending demand for fighting the menace of corruption in the state administration.

This state, right from early fifties, has earned the evil distinction of patronizing corruption in the administration. It not only brought an acute disrepute to it but also destroyed the social fabric of the State. There have been public out cries and agitations against the corruption but for the lack of an effective mechanism for curbing malpractices in the administration it always went heedless. The state cabinet committee by proposing constitution of the SVC on the pattern of the Central Vigilance Commission has done a commendable thing. But before putting it to the cabinet for approval there is need for making the document public. It is not important symbolically only but can also elicit suggestions from civil society. The Central Vigilance Commission was established by Government of India some forty six years back on the recommendation of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption as an advisory body to GoI. Nonetheless it took decades for this organization to establish itself as an independent apex vigilance institution free from the control of the executive.

If the government is really serious in making the proposed State Vigilance Commission as an effective organ it needs to replicate the Central Vigilance Commission in full. To establish the SVC as a statutory body an Act on the pattern of the Central Vigilance Commission Act 2003 needs to be passed in the State Assembly. The Central Vigilance Commission is also a designated agency to receive written complaints for disclosures on any allegation of corruption or misuse of office. It can very well recommend appropriate action. It also has authority to publicize the list of the corrupt officers. The State Vigilance Commission besides having powers as enjoyed by the Central Vigilance Commission should be empowered to prosecute the state officers belonging to the Central Services, i.e. I.A.S, I.P.S and I.F.S . And this must be without waiting for a clearance from the Ministry of Personnel, Pension and Grievances or the Ministry of Home Affairs. It because of such in adequacies that many known corrupt officers belonging to these services have often escaped the dragnet of anti-corruption department or have skirted a disciplinary action.

While appreciating the idea of setting up of the SVC, there is need to reorganize the State Vigilance Organization. This organization ever since its inception has been working just as an extension of the State Police Department, and not an independent organization. It, more or less has been converted into a dumping ground for the police officers who fail to stay in the good books of those who matter. Even a cursory look at the track record of this organization suggests that it has been one of the most ineffective organizations and whenever the organization has initiated a campaign against corruption at any point of time it has been motivated. As very rightly said by Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah the organization has been so far targeting smaller functionaries and people at the top, who are known for accumulating wealth beyond their known sources of income, go scot-free.

To see the state vigilance organization that is supposed to be the organ of the State Vigilance Commission carrying out the investigations, there is a need to make it broad based. The criteria for appointing head of the organization need not to be the police service but any officer of high integrity from administrative, judicial or police service should be chosen. The officers for the organization also need to be recruited from all disciplines. Another important decision that deserves an appreciation is restricting the role of the State Accountability Commission (SAC) to dealing the charges of corruption and misuse of office by politicians holding public offices. The Commission by taking the role of the State Vigilance Organization, taking complaints against administration, had diluted its role. To make this organization an effective organization it needs to be made fully autonomous and allowed to initiate action suo moto against any politician misusing public office.

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