When a CM cuts all the ribbons
He told me inaugurations are fun. So why someone else should have it?
ARJIMAND HUSSAIN TALIB
Kashmir is a land of many funny things. One of the funniest things we nurture is our culture of cutting inaugural ribbons for everything we make at the governmental level – from a toilet block to a city taxi service. There are no exceptions.
The other day I asked a source in the Chief Minister’s office why inaugurations by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tend to get low end these days? He was little surprised by the question but as a man of humor he took it with pun.
“You know these days everybody wants to have fun. Why should someone else have it, when the boss is around?” he asked.
“And wouldn’t you agree that a radio taxi service, which is quite an outdated thing elsewhere, is more apt for someone from the city municipality to inaugurate than the Chief Minister? “ I asked.
“Well, you can’t say like that. It is the first-of-its-kind service in the entire state. Imagine how professional we would look in the eyes of visiting tourists “, he shot back.
I also wanted to have our opinion on the state press releases calling the inaugurations of ordinary buildings, toilet blocks and things like that state-of-the-art, I continued.
“Well, when we make something new and good looking, we must acknowledge it”, he opined.
And how about the adjective ‘state-of-the-art’?
He got a little defensive - Sometimes we do use good techniques like the lift we installed at the Srinagar airport. It is state-of-the-art. Moreover, let me tell you it is not the state handouts but journalists who more often use this adjective with the stuff we make. You can’t blame us alone. And what is your opinion about it by the way?
“Well to me in this 21st century I see state-of-the art as something very exceptional in terms of its technology, methods and ideas. I think these days people celebrate innovation, excellence and technology as a hallmark of progress”, I did my own bit of preaching.
Listen, you would have to agree that we are in a ‘post-conflict transition’ mode where we need to recognize accomplishments, he added.
Can I ask you something about the Hyderpora flyover, I asked. He seemed curious about it – yes please!
The other day, while driving by the Hyderpora flyover, I noticed two graffitis being erected in the middle of the flyover, which seem its inauguration posts. They seem awkwardly placed and all set to advertise its credit credentials: Inaugurated by Jenab V, Hon’ble so and so, in the presence of Mr. W, Mr Y, and Mr Z. How about that?
“Just hold on that. I know what you mean. It is the first real flyover with a decent width in the valley which must be inaugurated by the Chief Minister”, he replied.
But if my memory is correct he has already inaugurated it – I asked.
You are right. That was the time when one of its lanes was thrown open for public use, and it was done in a hurry.
But don’t you think getting names in the middle of a small flyover with a not-so-pleasant history of time overruns, cost escalation and shabby engineering (you won’t observe even a single line of its engineering as a straight line) doesn’t make good PR?
“Can we move on to the next question?”, he asked. But I didn’t want to distract from the subject.
A friend was telling me that on May 18 this year a jogger’s park in Srinagar was also inaugurated by the Chief Minister, I said.
“What is wrong with that?” he asked the counter question.
Well, don’t you think it doesn’t make a pleasant protocol for a head of the state to inaugurate a small jogging park?
I think you would need to appreciate how important it is for people in the valley to take to jogging. And then he didn’t do it alone. There were many other people present on the occasion. You can check the graffiti in case you don’t trust me.
On 29 May, 2012 Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah and Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Dr Farooq Abdullah together inaugurated 18 KW Solar Power Plant at Sub-District Hospital Charar-i-Sharief. The previous day the two also inaugurated a similar plant at the Old Assembly Complex in Srinagar. Any comments on that?
I think this subject is beyond my purview. You better speak to someone in the Union Ministry.
And he hurried to add, “You should not forget that the Chief Minister has also inaugurated the state-of-the-art…oops I am sorry it just slipped…I mean the new Tourist Reception Centre at Nowgam, the residential block of Hajj House at Bemina, University campus at Kishtwar in 2010, and also a health club in Jammu in April 2010.”
“But how about the inaugurations of ATMs and tiny golf courses, like the ones in Gulmarg and Pahalgam?” I asked.
Well, let me tell you, inauguration of ATMs by physical presence has been discouraged now. We do state-of-the art electronic inauguration, by just clicking the computer mouse or switching on a button. As far as golf courses go, no one else plays golf in the government like the CM.
“But why don’t respective ministers or public servants like those in-charges of our municipalities do these inaugurations if at all they are necessary?”
I think that is a political question, he quipped.
Realising my column space had already been done, I said: thanks and good bye.
The columnist is a consultant in international development covering Asia-Pacific and Africa regions
Lastupdate on : Sat, 4 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 4 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 5 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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