Politics defines everything, especially in a conflict zone: Shah Faesal

Bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal on Thursday said politics defines everything, especially in a conflict zone like Kashmir.

He also said that his decision to join politics was strengthened after he found officials taking dictations from ministers.

Faesal made these comments while participating in a panel discussion on a book, ‘Not Just a Civil Servant’, by policy maker Anil Swarup at Kashmir University’s Gandhi Bhawan.

“My understanding is that they (bureaucrats) are struggling with the system. My decision of joining politics… I have seen Vice-Chancellors kneeling down before ministers and taking dictations from them,” said Faesal.

Faesal said he encountered constraints while working as a bureaucrat because bureaucracy works within a defined “ecosystem”.

“My very less experience in civil services tells me that…it has been an amazing, fascinating journey to serve at the very important departments that are critical for our growth. So, IAS has been an absolute privilege… But then at the same time it is also about ecosystem. We always find it very easy to blame bureaucrats, civil servants for non performance.”

“But then bureaucracy always works within an ecosystem.  My experience tells me this, more so when I joined the education department. I had very critical learning there,” said Faesal.

To elaborate on his point, Faesal said: “You have the state. The state wants to keep the schools open because open schools give a sense of normalcy to rulers.  And then you have the non state. The only consideration of the non state is that the schools should stay shut because it refutes or denies the sense of normalcy, which the state tries to have… And then you say that education activity is something that can be completely decentralized from politics of the place,” said Faesal.

He added,  “Politics is something that defines and dictates the outcomes, scopes of the decisions. Politics dictates everything, more so in a place like ours which is a conflict zone.”

Faesal who has floated his own Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement Party said bureaucrats are doing a “phenomenal job”, but then it is ultimately the “ecosystem” which leaves them “wriggling”.   

He said the same “ecosystem” ultimately made him join politics even though he had planned a career in academics after the Harvard University scholarship.

“This time we have Governor’s rule in the state. Governor’s rule is effectively rule by the bureaucrats. There is no political system. This time we should expect the best governance in the state. …development activity should be there. Roads should be built. But why is that in spite of having a bureaucracy in the state, this time we see some sort of absence of governance. Why, because this is in the ecosystem,” said Faesal.