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.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Let the Good Times Roll

Who cares if the State is broke and totally reliant on the Central Government for most of its budget? Politicians know how to look after their own needs

State Spends Lavishly on CM, Ministers

Jammu: The state government which depends heavily on the Centre for funds has been spending lavishly on the renovation of government as well private houses of ministers/bureaucrats and bearing the hefty phone and travelling expenses of the state Council of Ministers.

A whopping Rs 7.29 crore was spent under these heads. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s telephone bills alone account for one-fourth of the nearly Rs-16 lakh expenditure of 25 ministers in year 2009. PDP member of the Legislative Council Murtaza Ahmad Khan had asked the government to furnish the expenditure on fuel, telephone and TA/DAs of ministers.

In the Assembly,another PDP MLA, Zulfikar Ali, had sought details of the expenditure on the renovation of government as well as private houses of ministers. The reply given by the General Administration Department (GAD) about fuel and phone bills included details of all ministers, but the reply furnished to Zulfikar Ali by the minister-incharge of the Estates Department, did not include the details of ministers or bureaucrats.

Of the total Rs 7.29 crore spent last year, Rs 5.79 cr was on the renovation of government as well as private houses of members of the Council of Ministers and Rs 1.5 crore on fuel, telephone and TA/DA of the ministers.

The expenditure does not include the fuel consumption of the Chief Minister. The reply states the security agencies bear the on the motorcade of the Chief Minister.

The expenditure means that if all ministers were on the move for 365 days in a year, then each of them was spending over Rs 800 daily on fuel only. The most surprising thing is that while the spending on fuel was Rs 73.28 lakh, the expenditure on TA/DA paid to ministers was Rs 61.41 lakh.

This means if ministers travelled all days of the year, the government paid them TA/DA of Rs 16,824 daily or about Rs 670 roughly to each minister per day. This is besides the salary and other emoluments of the ministers. While Chief Minister Omar Abdullah incurred the highest expenditure of Rs 6.51 lakh on TA/DA, the bill of his political adviser Devinder Singh Rana was zero.

The TA/DA bill of Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand was the second highest at Rs 6.02 lakh.

(Tribune India)

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