A kingdom on wheels

There are many peculiarities to Kashmir, some good, some bad, some very strange. Good, or bad constitute subjective and judgmental labels, but one can say this with ease of certainty that the shifting of capital cities, half yearly, is untypical. In the history of politics, kingdoms have turned upside down, borders have expanded and recoiled, and capitals have changed places. But seldom do we find that after every 6 months, the masters with the kingdom's chests walk over to the other side of mountain rage and enjoy good weather, while the people brave stupefying heat and biting cold. And twice a year the kingdom spends good 10 days on the highway connecting Jammu and Srinagar. Well, this is the lighter side of the story. And there are some serious questions that are pinned to this debate on whether it's an arcane, undesired, and fundamentally undemocratic practice. Or is there anything good about it. Some people, on a very serious note, put forth the point that the shifting of capital, helps in connecting the two regions and people attached to different offices move from one place to another building a functional connection between the two regions. Given the degree of estrangement between the two regions, it is a spin off. But if we dig the same deeper, it is other way round. This practice never allows the state to settle down on a centre and weave the governance and institutional linkages around that centre. Something that the political leadership in all the regions of the state need to ponder over. This practice has also adversely impacted the patterns and practices of governance. Today when we see Srinagar city getting some face lifting, it comes across as a colonial practice. As if some king is arriving, and his subjects must know that the chariot can be in the city anytime soon. That is not just absurd, but oppressive. Both Jammu and Srinagar, and the people living in the regions of Jammu, Ladakh, and Kashmir must not feel a drifting away of government when this seasonal shifting of offices takes place. The political leadership of the state must think over this aspect of governance. And yes, we must not turn it into a contest between the people living in Jammu region, and Kashmir region. If the questions of governance and politics are well addressed, may be people even don't notice that the Darbar has moved away, or walked in. At least this much needs to be taken care of. If the offices have shifted from Jammu to Srinagar, people of Jammu must not be a lot left behind. Similarly the people of Srinagar in November. That is in a nutshell.

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