Anti-corruption movements across India have failed to resonate in valley and there is a reason why
POINT OF VIEW BY RIYAZ AHMAD
Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev’s anti-corruption protest riveted India. For the nine consecutive days, Baba’s campaign virtually determined the political discourse in the country. In fact, Baba appeared to be a bigger star than Anna Hazare who first led the Satyagraha against the corruption in April. As against Anna’s fast in Gandhian mould at Jantar Mantar, Ramdev’s protest at Ramlila Maidan seethed with anger and defiance. Baba indulged in a fiery rhetoric against the government and the news channels lapped it up. However, the protest fizzled out on Sunday with Ramdev finally breaking his fast but vowing to continue fight against corruption. While both Anna and Ramdev have so far achieved little by way of persuading the government to bring in a stronger legislation against the corruption, the movements unleashed by the two have generated a tremendous debate and discourse on the scams in the government. India now has a visible constituency against corruption. For once, it is no longer only a slogan or a word used cloyingly in the political rhetoric
Whatever the fate of the Anna and Baba movements, one thing is clear, corruption is now a mainstream political issue in India and there is a massive constituency of the conscious people who would want it as the basis for their support for a particular political party. And in turn this could over a period of time set off a holier-than-thou race among political parties in their bid to woo the voters. A unique Indian way of fighting corruption, perhaps.
However, while this anti-graft euphoria has swept India, Kashmir has passively watched it pass by. As about everything else that happens outside the state, the anti-corruption discourse despite being universal in its appeal has failed to resonate in Valley. The feeling that New Delhi is a foreign place lingers in the state even more than six decades after the often contested accession. And the full-blown separatist movement over the past two decades has only deepened this sense of alienation. It is the discourse of conflict that continues to reign supreme. That is, everything in Kashmir has to wait pending the final settlement of the state. And over the years this approach has bred a mindset that sees a deeper engagement with the problems of day to day as detrimental to the pursuit of the larger political cause.
Hence development, environment, administrative accountability cannot be issues beyond a point. What is more, the poor governance neither becomes an issue nor provokes any protest even though it might indirectly stoke popular unrest which soon morphs into a full blown Azadi campaign. The result has been the growth of a polity that has found in this mindset an escape from accountability. No government feels itself obliged to perform. And corruption which is so rife doesn’t get anything beyond a lip service. Though some governments like the previous coalition headed by Ghulam Nabi Azad pretended some resolve and even passed a harsh anti-corruption law, the campaign fell through after netting a fair number of corrupt bureaucrats. The current government has, however, not expressed an intention in this regard beyond the sometimes comforting words of chief minister Omar Abdullah. Early this year he said that bureaucrats in the state have “eyes, ears, mouths” closed to corruption. He even acknowledged that the “buck of responsibility” stopped with him but started with the bureaucrats themselves.
But what is surprising that this government has not come up with a programme of action nor seems intent on one. True, there is so much cynicism about any official anti-corruption campaign that a fresh initiative will only invite sniggers. For, the two important requisites that are required to carry through any such initiative to its logical conclusion, political will and political incentive, both are absent in the state. It will need a complete paradigm shift to usher these vital factors back into our polity.
One of the major reasons contributing to this state of affairs is the approach of New Delhi. All that matters for the central government in Kashmir is the maintenance of uneasy peace and if a state government succeeds in doing so, Delhi will be all too happy to forgive the corruption, inefficiency and incompetence. And successive state governments have learnt well to play to these fears.
There are thus two important realities that have come to characterize Kashmir. One is the approach of New Delhi which is that the quality of the governance doesn’t matter if peace holds in Kashmir. And second is the deep-seated belief among Valley's politicians that the real source of power in the state is not its people but New Delhi. And outside these two realities is the separatist politics which though deeply tied to the aspirations of the people operates antiseptically outside the system.
Result is a system that doesn’t function. For the mainstream and New Delhi peace – no matter of what nature - is at a premium in Kashmir and for the separatists the system is illegitimate and any effort to seek its improvement is collaboration. And between the two there is little that could become an incentive for a responsive administration. The problem in Kashmir, therefore, is structural in nature. And its remedy needs to be a transformation that is also structural in nature. We need a profound change that remakes the system in a way that removes the old factors and releases new incentives for a more efficient system. Is this possible without a Kashmir settlement? There is as yet no answer to this question.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 15 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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