When CMs visit a village
Everything is spruced up to give an impression that all is well
More than a decade back the people of our village (i.e. Veeri located in the Tehsil of Bijbehara) got the information that the then Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Dr Farooq Abdullah is visiting the village. This sort of information is unusual for the hapless people living in the countryside. But he avoided this convention due to unknown reasons. On Thursday (05 July 2012) Omer Abdullah fulfilled his father’s promise of visiting the village. The roads got repaired few days before his visit. Wood logs were dispersed along the roadsides. The sweepers from surrounding municipal areas were brought in action to clean the village. Power cuts were almost negligible. Lakhs of rupees were spent on decorating the roads by banners. All this was done to hide the actual condition of the village. Here I recall a speech by Omar Abdullah in our area during the election campaign of 2008: “Once I will take over the reigns of the state, I will sit with you people in the shadows of these trees & listen to your grievances patiently”. It would have been an ideal situation to visit the village in natural setting with dilapidated roads full of dust and absence of almost all the basic necessities of modern day life.
Since the days of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, MLA’s from Bijbehara constituency, except for a brief interlude by Mehbooba Mufti in 1996, were the residents of this village. The present MLA & MLC are also from the same village. But the condition of our village is no better than the other surrounding villages. Roads are as narrow as 12 feet. They are deformed to the extent that it takes more than half an hour to reach Bijbehara although the distance is just 5 Kms. The primary health centre is sans basic facilities. We hardly get 5-6 hours of electricity a day. Besides, the rising tide of inflation has made the rural masses vulnerable to the extent of extinction.
While addressing a large gathering, the CM has mentioned thousands of crores of rupees that are being spend in the constituency on different developmental projects. The amount is so big that hardly anyone could recall the exact sum. People in the audience were taken aback. Why is this huge sum of money escaping the poor? The menace of corruption has completely engulfed every walk of rural life where accountability in administration is non-existent. In rural Kashmir hardy 30-40 percent of the allotted sum reaches the ground level.
Gandhi-ji once said: “If the village perishes India will perish too. The revival of the village is possible only when it is no more exploited”. The exploitation of villages in our state could be checked by a number of ways. One effective way is the strengthening of Panchayati Raj Institutions. The devolution of powers to the elected members of PRI’s will serve a purpose. They are supposed to act as the guardians of village development. They could effectively check the mishandling of money being assigned for the welfare of villages provided they themselves are virtuous. A genuine transfer of power to PRI’s will surely strengthen the democracy at the grassroots level.
(Sajad Padder is a research student in the Department of Political Science, University of Kashmir, Srinagar and can be contacted at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 17 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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