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, April 11, 2011

The (R)age of Sycophancy

Hassan says that in J&K it is not the merit that matters, but CHM. To know what the CHM means, take a trip into the mafia system known as the State Administration

(Mr. M. G. Hassan Mukhtar, 44, was born in Srinagar. He has a Bachelor's degree in Architecture, Post-Graduate diplomas in Disaster Management, and Environment & Sustainable Development, and Certificates in Rural Development and Human Rights. Mr. Mukhtar is a Habitat Planner in Human Settlement Field. He is also a freelance writer, independent researcher, analyst and policy planner.)

Of Work Culture and Government Offices

In all the categories of government institutions except legislation (where legislators are directly elected by people and removed by them only), rest follow guided hierarchies from sub-ordinate staff to middle level up to top level. Since a person seeks employment to earn his livelihood so that s/he can sustain life till death, rest is all in vain. If money comes without working, then it is all the more nice. Therefore no one joins an organization or department to serve but the goal is to earn. Or if an employee initially feels that s/he must serve the institution to which s/he has been employed in order to get remuneration but during the course of employment one comes to a conclusion that it is not the department/institution or the public one works for but for the malafide interests of his/her superior. One has not to see the genuineness of the case/file under his disposal but the interests of the higher officer. Once that path is followed, then everything turns good in one’s favor, otherwise only God can safeguard you. By doing all sort of chamchagiri, one shall always be in good books. Just using one’s own brain is a crime in government particularly when you are a subordinate. You can be dubbed arrogant, egoistic and a rebel. In case, one is a fool of first order but knows the art of sycophancy or hypocrisy, then one shall always rise high through career benefits etc. On the other hand, if you are an intellectual and do have sound knowledge but do not indulge in sycophancy and double standards, then yours is a gone case. Would you believe that there are officers in government who do not know how to write an application but are in good books with timely promotional benefits just because of serving the personal interests of their higher authorities?

Anyway what I am trying to convey is that in government one cannot just rise high on pure ability and intelligence unless proved that he can serve as a puppet too. Mere efficiency, transparency, integrity has no takers in government. One could be lucky enough, if s/he gets favorable atmosphere on the basis of ability but that is a rare case worth to be preserved in the archives. One cannot rise without the help of godfather. Rather everyone needs one GF necessarily. If one is honest, dedicated, hardworking, efficient but still then requires a godfather who could belong to any category "dishonest, corrupt, and inefficient." If one is dishonest, still then needs a godfather (who may even be honest or nepotist etc) to safeguard his interests and protect him from administrative shocks. Let me tell you that nothing works without godfathers or patrons. The silver lining is that one must emulate the persona of his superior and behave like a dog wagging his tail faithfully; rather understand his boss's needs (of every sort) and fulfill them. This all one can do at the cost of organization/self respect and trust people have reposed in you as a public servant.

If your immediate superior officer or employer is corrupt, try to become one and/ or be a conduit or help him in his endeavors, then there is no looking back. It is guaranteed that you shall rise and get easy promotion, lucrative posting and unaccounted holidays. If he is scandalous or wants to favor/ help someone (not necessarily on the basis of goose), then extending a helping hand towards him by not creating hurdles in the case file under your disposal shall keep him in good humour. This will ultimately pay you in the long run. The applicant receiving his help/favor may be his immediate/distant relative or friend or a sponsored case. While judging a case file, do not look into the merits of the file / genuineness of the case but the personal interests of the higher officer.

These are the only ways to get your Annual Performance Report (APR) a better outstanding. These stupid APRs have literally turned government employees as modern slaves under the falsehood of democracy and administrative discipline; therefore they cannot exhibit creativity or innovation. As per my knowledge and experience and more so keeping an eye on such relevant issues in present times, these APRs could be simply dubbed or called as Assessment of Personal Relations (APR) between a superior officer and his sub-ordinate official without an iota of reference to ability, efficiency and intelligence. It is only through the culture of chamchagiri, hypocrisy and mockery (CHM) that one can sustain progress and reach higher level in government sector. Usually no employee works for the organization or its interests but for their superiors who hold key to APRs.

The APR dependency culture in today's democratically functional governments is foolish. The creative instinct of an able officer goes into dustbin. An official has to work in any case to get his salary. Let attendance and the progress report which could be generated on weekly/monthly basis (quantity & quality) be the criteria and let's do away with these Annual Performance Reports (generally known as Assessment of Personal Relations). Team work in govt. sector is simply plagued with malafide and vested interests. The government must broaden Vigilance Organization by having established honest officers of different fields in order to prepare a transparent record of all officers within government agencies, autonomous /corporate institutions, with feedback from the public (in terms of grievances/appreciation). It should be a third party appraisal machinery and not the immediate or superior officer within the same organization. This shall remove the concept of owing allegiance only to the immediate officer which will enable employees to think creatively, critically and constructively towards the organization and public they serve. I personally believe that a public servant must be imaginative, innovative having high degree of constructive intellect.

There is in fact a mafia system within administration. The dishonest ones work in close liaison with each other both at horizontal and vertical level while the honest ones are scattered and fragmented. Able and efficient ones are rendered useless through denial of work by an inefficient/corrupt/ nepotist superior. Some of the non-corrupt superiors never mind promoting those scandalous officers who are proved involved in forgery. This is really amazing. It is higher officers who groom their own brand of corrupt officials and use them at their own freewill. Those officers who do not take cash but promote nepotism (which according to me is the ugliest form of corruption) are the worst lot.

So far as division of labor in government/ semi-govt. sector is concerned as per posts and designations and hierarchy, this is thrown to dust bin. The superior officers use the methodology of harassing the efficient ones and get work done as per their personal wishes and whims in the form of nexuses with pure vested interest from officials who are habitual cheaters with proven record of forgery.

The Right to Information Act lays stress on the role, responsibility and duties apart from delegation of powers to the individual officers in an organization so that every official becomes accountable for the jobs in his/her own domain. An officer processing files of another colleague under the malafide and vested interest of superior officer is totally violating the standard procedure and such actions stand purely illegal. Only in case of one officer being on long leave may be asked to deal with work of another officer. Most of the superior officers violate these norms for their own interests whether for pecuniary benefits or simple nepotism. Further if two colleagues or two immediate hierarchical officers do not see eye to eye, there is a need to use the administrative tool of LEVEL JUMPING so that work does not suffer on account of enmity between the officials. In public sector undertakings, zero transfer policy has rendered most of the employees as sarkari dons with one track mindset. In these organizations, there is either nexus because of malafide interests or enmity due to acrimonious relations between officials. This has created groupism within organizations and has affected the culture of work. The aforesaid description is the general culture of work in government sector with of course exceptions.

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