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.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Great Taxpayer Rip-Off

Sheikh ran Kashmir for Rs 3 a day; Omar to charge Rs 2300

PM salaries

Pandit R C Kak in 1945 Rs 4000
Sheikh Abdullah in 1948 Rs 1000
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in 2010 Rs 70,000
Total Cabinet salary in 1948 Rs 12,000
Dewan Th B S Pathania Rs 2500
Dy Rev Min Khawaja Ali Shah Rs 700
Total cabinet salary in 1945 Rs 12500
Dy PM and Home Min Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad in 1948 Rs 1000
Home Minister Wazir Ganga in 1945 Rs 1600

Rich Durbar

Abdul Mohamin

Srinagar: Under the National Conference-led coalition government, ministers and legislator would carry heavier purses with the record hike in their pay and perks. Many old guards in NC see this decision in contrast with Sheikh Abdullah’s regime in 1948 when Sheikh had chosen to draw lesser salary than he was supposed to.

During his first tenure as Prime Minister of J&K on March 5, 1948 – Sheikh announced that he would be content with just 25 percent of what his predecessors used to draw.

Compared to mere Rs 1000 that Sheikh took as salary for the post of Prime Minster in 1948, his grandson and incumbent Chief Minister Omar Abdullah would receive Rs 70,000 in the new pay package, proposed to be effective from September 2009 as per sources.

The new hike will not only benefit the CM, it is expected to add almost Rs 20,000 to the wallet of every MLA and MLC and Rs 25,000 to the ministers. The State legislators (as also the ministers) are currently drawing Rs 40,300 per month.

Records show Sheikh's salary was Rs 3000 less than what his predecessor Pandit Ram Chander Kak drew during his tenure as PM in 1945, when Maharaja Hari Singh ruled the State.

The records also clearly indicate that Cabinet Ministers had uniformity in salary structure, with few exceptions like Deputy Revenue Minister Khwaja Ali Shah drawing the lowest salary of Rs 700, while the maximum pay of Rs 2500 was drawn by Th. Baldev Singh Pathania as Dewan.

The total salary drawn by the whole Cabinet of 1948 was Rs 12,000 and distributed among 12 persons. Compared to this, a similar amount (Rs 12,500) was drawn by the 1945 Council comprising only five people, including Premier Kak.

The 1948 Cabinet Ministers too had lower salaries than what ministers in similar capacities carried home during the Maharaja rule. For instance, Deputy Prime Minister Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad, who also held the Home portfolio at that time, drew Rs 1000 as salary - Rs 600 less than what Home Minister Wazir Ganga Ram took during the Maharaja rule.

The new hike is expected to create added burden of Rs 36 crore annually on the State exchequer and place the State Ministers and legislators as top salary drawees, even surpassing the Union ministers whose salaries are governed by the Salaries and Allowances of Minister Act, 1952.

In fact, a proposal to ensure uniformity in Union Ministers' salaries is being worked out in tune with what the top Secretaries of GoI draw - Rs 80,000 per month.

The pay parity entails bringing the salaries of Union ministers (including allowances and perks) higher than the Secretaries.

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