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, August 26, 2012

J&K Social Welfare Department is a Disgrace

Steeped in corruption and office politics, the Social Welfare Department is a poster child for poor human development in Kashmir


Imran Muzaffar (Greater Kashmir)  

Srinagar: Even as a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General pulled up the Social Welfare Department for failing to implement flagship schemes, both state and centre sponsored, the department continues to work in a sluggish manner on the vital issue, raising a question mark over its functioning.

The CAG report after being tabled in the State Legislative Assembly sometime back had pointed to “financial mismanagement, non-adherence of eligibility criteria, and lack of monitoring and proper planning” in the department. The report had said that the department has completely failed to implement the vital flagship programmes of the Government of India.

An official source told Greater Kashmir that even after CAG observations, the “unnecessary retention of huge undisbursed money in bank accounts and delay in finalizing rates of contract in nutritive items under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) persisted in the department.”

“Non-release of funds continues to affect various vital schemes. This is not because there are serious technical faults but due to the careless attitude of authorities and their little concern for implementation of the schemes. Since CAG has also taken note of it, the National Social Assistance Programme is still to be implemented due to the non-release of funds,” he said.

The source said the department was yet to implement Contributory Security Scheme as well. “The scheme is aimed to benefit marginal workers in the age group of 20-50. But despite the CAG castigating the department over the failure to implement it, the scheme is yet to be formally launched.”

The CAG had also pulled up the department for not spending the huge unspent balance on the schemes. “The report had taken note that at the end of each financial year crores of rupees remain unspent in the accounts which are otherwise meant for the implementation of schemes and benefiting the marginal and weaker sections,” the source said.

The CAG report had, pertinently, said: “The supplementary nutrition under the ICDS was not provided to all beneficiaries from 2005-09 and shortfall ranged between 7 to 40 per cent. The health check-up and other referral services were not provided to deserving at all.”

The source said funds worth crores of rupees under another key scheme-‘Scheme for Empowerment of Skilled Women’- has been unspent, with the department putting tough procedure for applicants. The State Cabinet had in 2010 accorded sanction to the Scheme vide order No. 05-SW of 2010 dated 08-01-2010. 

“The Scheme was aimed to grant loan to skilled women so that they may venture out for their concerned businesses. But the procedure for sanctioning of the loan was made so tough for the applicants that they backed out halfway,” he said.

Despite repeated attempts, the Director and Secretary, Social Welfare Department, were not available for comments.

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