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, December 12, 2010

Tackling Corruption in Kashmir

Abid conducts a thorough diagnosis of Kashmir's principal malady, and suggestive prescriptive measures to remedy the situation

(Dr. Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, 29, was born in Srinagar. He completed his schooling from Tyndale Biscoe Memorial School, and his pre-medical from the University of kashmir. He finished his MBBS degree from Acharya Shri Chandar College of Medical Sciences (ASCOMS), University of Jammu. Currently based in Srinagar, Dr. Shah is active member of Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD). He is also a social activist and a contributing regular columnist.)


Throughout the evolutionary history of governance structures in the
world , inherent inefficiencies have always accompanied . Corruption
has been a common denominator of all government architecture
throughout the world across ages . Although variable in incidence and
prevalance , today it is an all pervasive global phenomenon . As the
most widely prevalent moral perversion in governance, its ambit and
domain goes far beyond bribery , which remains the single most
manifest form . Corruption has transgressed boundaries of
nation, state, religion, race, domicile and idealogy . In the current
social order underpinned by globalization , corruption remains the
single most potent and pandemic challenge to human development. This
is particularly pertinent in developing societies like ours . By
nature it is a malignant infestation in our body politic . And it
affects the most vulnerable sections of our population in the most
ruthless manner.Our state is on the developmental path and carries a
large backlog of development. The issue of corruption thus attains
primacy for introspection by government circles as well as by the
civil society .

Jammu & Kashmir is a poor state with a rich resource base and has
continued to be a victim of rampant corruption with its multiple
dimensions. Being a developmentally backward state , J & K has sunk
into a deep morass of moral ineptitude due to the high indices of
corruption . Statistical and objective support to the grim scenario
came from Transparency International - India data whereby J & K ranked
2nd in India in terms of the " Corruption Perception Index " . Given
that such a scenario has disastrous consequences for our future, it is
imperative that we undertake a microanalysis of this social reality .
We must analyze the etiology , the implications and the likely
interventions against this enormous challenge to good governance in
developing societies in general and Jammu & Kashmir in particular .


1. Lack of transparency in governance . The shroud of mystery in
functioning provides ample opportunity for malpractice , destroying
even the best of intent . Lack of Transparency provides favorite
breeding grounds for financial irregularity . Given the enormous
capital infusion into our developmental agenda , opacity in operations
all but guarantees haemorrhage of funds meant for public welfare .

2 .Lack of accountability combined with an ineffective system of
checks & balances in our governance . ' Power corrupts and absolute
power corrupts absolutely ' , remains an instructional adage in our
social structure. The institutional mechanisms in our state meant to
act as bulwarks of accountability are inefficacious and at best non
optimal in performance . Thus financial irregularities becomes easier
, more beneficial and much less difficult to to be localized .

3. A general trend of acceptability of corrupt practices due to an
erosion of the moral fabric of the society. Our collective
consciousness has gone comatose thereby lending legitimacy to
illegitimate practices . It is a social phenomenon with its roots in
our faltered social order . Today the premium placed on honesty is low
therefore corruption has gained currency amongst us .

4. Our social living is in perpetual pursuit of materialistic ends
where the main qualification for a respectable social life is the
quantum of an individuals wealth.In such a scenario it is only natural
for financial misappropriations to occur and grow .

5. Absence of a deterrance mechanism is an important factor in the
rampant corrupt practises in our society . When an individual is seen
to indulge in such practises with little or no risk or cost , the
entire society looses the fear of punishment for indulgence in
corruption . Thus the principle of " Observation learning " operates
in our social cognition .

6. It is a matter of observation that there occurs a collusion
between individuals & organizations for vested interests . The in
group feeling between the corrupt strengthens the corrupt fabric by
strong internal linkages .


Given that our state lags behind other more advanced regions in the
development pattern , corruption & allied malpractices have a
disastrous impact . Corruption has & continues to retards our growth
effectively setting the clock backwards . The impact of corruption is
felt across all spheres of activity . From physical to social
infrastructure , from our educational sector to our politico -
administrative functioning , its impact can be felt everywhere .

Moreover J & K is a volatile state with a fragile peace structure .
In such a situation the public perception of state institutions is
very important . Legitimacy of government instruments in the public
eye is vital especially in a state like ours . A direct result of
corruption in Jammu & Kashmir is the trust deficit in the state . A
negative corelation exists between public perceptions and the law &
order landscape in our volatile state . A natural corollary exists
between these two aspects , the latter contingent upon the former .

Coming to the most important part of this discourse on corruption .
What are the likely interventions against the affliction of corruption
. These may be approached at three levels - The state , the societial
and the individual level interventions .

The state intervention needs to be in all three organs of governance
- the legislative , the executive and the judicial . Strengthening of
anticorruption legislation and institutions will go a long way in our
efforts against malpractices . Augmenting anticorruption architecture
of the state like the State Accountability Commission , Vigilance
Commission or the Anticorruption wings of various departments is of
paramount importance . Such institutional framework needs to be given
much greater policy and material support than it gets now .

Greater transparency & accountability in governance will restore the
equilibrium in favour of good governance in our state . Although all
government functioning cannot be placed in the public domain, yet a
proactive approach to practicable disclosure of information ,
documents and policy is highly mandated.Such actions will be a potent
weapon against corruption.The RTI Act is a superb instrument towards
bringing greater transparency in governance. Instituions related to it
must be strengthened without ado if it is to be efficacious.

A simplistic application of " Behaviouristic principles " of
reinforcement and punishment will help in large measure to resolve the
mess in our establishments and organizations .Exemplary punitive
punishment will deter many more prospective corrupt individuals.Any
indulgence in such practices must come at a very high price which
would discourage future incidences of corruption by the same or
different individual .

The onus of responsibility lies squarely on the entire society.Moral
& value education needs to be imparted and the patterns of
socialization must be reoriented,placing a high premium on honesty and
integrity.The society must set examples of higher order morality for
our antecedent generations to follow.

In sum given the all pervasive influence of corruption,the burden of
responsibility lies on the government,the civil society and above all
the individual. We can hope to actualize our true collective potential
as a society only if we rid ourselves of the scrouge of corruption.

Allama Iqbal was prescriptive when he presaged :

Ai taairey lahuti uss rizq se maut achi ,
Jis rizq se ati ho parvaaz main kotahi .

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