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.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rooting Out Corruption in J&K

Burhan puts his faith on Accountability

Accountability Must for Corruption-Free JK

Burhan Majid

It has been rightly said “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Power conferred on any branch of the government tends to be misused and the state of Jammu and Kashmir is no exception.

Corruption has acquired epidemic proportions in the state. A survey by a Transparency International listed J&K as the second most corrupt state in India.

Corruption has transcended all barriers. It is prevalent in every sphere of our society. It is deep-rooted in the system. It encourages injustice and oppression. The rot has not even spared non-governmental sector with some charitable organisations also engaged in this evil practice. In some offices people resort to corrupt means openly.

Accountability will help in eradicating this menace of corruption. Infact it has become a prerequisite for a corruption-free society.

A very important observation made by Apex court in Dinesh Trivedi, M.P. & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors: “Democracy expects openness and openness is the concomitant of a free society and sunlight is the best disinfectant” seems to be quite complimentary to the definition given by Abraham Lincoln that “Democracy is the government of the people, for the people and by the people.”

To ensure the application of these dicta, exposing things to the sunlight is sine qua non. In other words, free flow of information to common masses is of the essence in as much as an informed citizenry and transparency of information are vital to the functioning of a democratic government.

This underlines the need for right to information. In Rajnarain’s case and Indian Express newspaper’s case, the Apex court held that fundamental right to freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a) of the constitution of India was based on the foundation of the freedom of right to know and all citizens must have the right to know about the activities of the govt. This is based on the reason that participation of the people is regarded as an important aspect of democracy and people cannot participate until they have the knowledge as to what is going on in a country. Therefore, it is of the prime importance to allow people to have information so as to maintain the democratic credentials of a particular country.

In the landmark S.P.Gupta Vs Union of India, one of the leading judges Bhagwati J while expressing faith in the open government emphasised that, “Where a society has chosen to accept democracy as its creedal faith, it is elementary that the citizens ought to know what their government is doing. No democratic government can survive without accountability and the basic postulate of accountability is that people should have information about the functioning of govt. If the processes and functioning of government are shrouded in secrecy and hidden from public exposure, it will tend to promote and encourage oppression, corruption, misuse and abuse of authority. But if there is an open government when means of information are available to the public, things would be exposed and the exposure to public gaze and scrutiny is the surest means of achieving a clean and healthy govt. An open government is regarded as the best government.”
Rightly so, if indeed a state adheres to the concept of open government there will be an obligation on the part of the public official(s) to justify the doings which, of course, would in turn ensure accountability.

J&K must also adopt principles of accountability and open government. Then only can the menace of corruption be weeded out. For this, inter-alia, the provisions of the J&K Right to Information Act, 2009 must be made effective in letter and spirit.

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