The moot question
Is good governance or Tanghdhar route to equitable development?
There are no two opinions about the argument of equitable development particularly in the remote and hilly state of Jammu and Kashmir. The slogan had been oft-repeated during the last six decades by successive Prime Ministers (of the state) and Chief Ministers but the real implementation on ground has been tardy and at times non-existent. And the results are for anyone to see in the beginning of the 21st century.
The young and dynamic Chief Minister Mr Omar Abdullah has also shown penchant for equitable development of the state as was the case with his predecessors particularly his grandfather Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. His desire has been reflected in his decision to hold cabinet meetings in the far-flung areas of the state. The process kick-started with the one held at Karnah, originally scheduled for remote Tanghdhar on the Line of Control.
But is this the answer to the total neglect of not only the far-flung but certain well-connected areas of the state? The answer is an emphatic no. The answer lies in the dire need for a well-oiled dispensation to ensure good governance. The answer also lies, in the context of a coalition government such as National Conference-Congress combine, in closing ranks and making welfare of the common masses a top priority rather than indulging in acts of self-aggrandisement.
It is always desirable that the rulers reach the masses where none has ventured earlier to give them a feeling of ‘we care for you’ or ‘you are central to this system and certainly need more care’. But that can only be achieved through a responsive administration with a human face. Merely taking the entourage to a remote hilly area at the cost of the exchequer will further strengthen the decades- old public belief that gimmickry and not seriousness is central to the J&K politics.
Getting back to the great idea of equitable development of the state, it is pertinent to have a cursory look, in terms of good governance, at the conditions prevailing in the well-connected and well-developed areas. Without even an iota of cynicism, one has no hesitation in saying that Karnah, soon to be followed by Gurez, is nothing but a sham.
Does one need to travel 180 kilometer from the Summer Capital of the state to give account of the Government’s efficiency or concern? Certainly not! What had happened, and if the reports are correct still happening, in the children’s hospital some few kilometer from the Chief Minister’s residence, is not only an eye opener but a wake-up call. This is not the only example of mal-administration. Even a casual inspection of public services infrastructure in the cities of Srinagar and Jammu, leave alone the other district headquarters, will bring out startling facts pointing towards a total callous administration. There is no need to travel lock, stock and barrel to a remote area such as Tanghdhar or Gurez to give an account of one-self.
The fact of the matter is that the political leadership, particularly that of Kashmir, has for decades sought refuge behind the veil of finding a political solution to the vexed Kashmir problem while keeping the other aspirations of the people particulary of the youth in terms of education, health-care, employment and right to better-living. Even the Centre is to be hugely blamed for delaying the process of over-all development of the state while playing a ball with various political outfits in the name of finding a solution to Kashmir issue.
It is a grim reminder for the political leadership of the state also, who might have whiled away time in the past by keeping people engaged through political one-up-manship. From a first-hand account, one is convinced that the aspirations of the youth in Kashmir, as in rest of the country, are different. They want tangible results be it on probing the deaths of over a 100 youth killed two years back or providing basic amenities.
It is after decades that Delhi has discovered the virtue of the development process going side-by-side the political process. Of course, none should lose sight of a strong accountable mechanism. Mere change in the Centre’s outlook will not bring any discernible change on ground unless the state administration, of whatever hue, becomes equally responsible and decides to deliver both on the political and developmental fronts. In the midst of the economy getting a boost with the growing number of tourists this season, the memories of the G B Pant children’s hospital tragedy will not allow anyone remotely connected with governance or administration to live in peace.
All the stakeholders particularly the government of the day should realise that the developmental issues will not wait till the resolution of Kashmir. Nearly 400 infants losing life due to lack of basic facilities in the hospital is self-explanatory and points towards the prevailing state of affairs in the state. The government particularly the political leadership should wake-up to the reality and tighten the screws of the administration. They must realise that there is a virtue in trying to do something and fail rather than doing nothing.
The author is New Delhi Bureau Chief of Greater Kashmir. Feedback at: email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Sun, 3 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 3 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 4 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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