Governance or the act of governing relates to decisions that define expectations, grant power or verify performance, management and leadership. In places like Jammu & Kashmir that is an unstable strife ridden polity, effective governance is a challenge. Governance as defined by international norms once in place equates halfway house to peace. In a critical analysis of prevailing authority and power of running institutions in Jammu & Kashmir, there is a manifest deficit in the relationship between the people and establishment. The right of governing is not property but trust bequeathed by masses that culminates in exemplary navigation of day to day delivery of services and peace. Harsh methods and incisive punishments rebound into anarchy followed on the dictum that governance is best which governs least. A glaring example is creating more chaos by imposing more restrictive regulations in traffic, creating more tiers of administration. Push more numbers of vehicles on broken roads with no signs or signals and free for all pandemonium by drivers completes the picture of anarchy. Law enforcers themselves set example by excessive use of escort forces for their own entourage and impose encumbrances to chaos. The list goes on.
Bureaucracy kills efficiency and hampers decision making from corridors of power. On bureaucracy I will relate a little story from Pakistan. Recently my British friend on business sought an interview with the concerned secretary to government. He met the assistant to the PA to the deputy secretary who in turn gave him a day to see the assistant to the PA to the Secretary. The Secretary got the word through his personal secretary that a British man wants an audience. He was directed by his PA to report to Islamabad golf course prompt at 4pm. His walk round the 18- holes course was spent in admiring the golf shots of the Secretary. There were ten people on the course who cheated for their boss and even kicked the ball in favored positions. The telecom professional with a business plan returned home to UK with no work done. A simple exercise will evaluate governance in the State. Take a close look at the recent budget. The copy cat demonstration of British style briefcase contained a jargon of log rolling limited funds. As a citizen and consumer I would like to see one project started and finished. Works in Communication sector, demise of water bodies, lakes, and industries, healthcare have receded to primeval times.
Result orientated schemes are rare and if Kashmir of 1947 was placed on the drawing board and 70 years of development lines drawn, it will be a sad mess to see. Today, in case of a rainfall or snowfall, electric, telephone, water supply lines get severed, transformers burn, craters in roads get bigger, Kashmir becomes dependent on commodities for survival to come from India and the only artery of access to the outside world is blocked with landslides. Every year some more lives are lost with falling rocks and accidents. Governance of 70 years has made life and living a grueling experience. It is within memory a description of life they lived revealing the comforts they enjoyed when small windows, thatched roofs, mud plaster was used, manual labor used spades to clear roads, and our hospitals coped with the quantum of patients load. Life style diseases were a minimum with little stress and unregulated affluence. Governance today bears down on people every form of stress from roads, easy loans and debt, violence and insecurity.
On the political front chaos and ambiguity is compounded. A nation is not governed which is perpetually to be conquered. These are the words of Edmund Burke (1722-92) the Irish politician and hold true in political environment of today's Kashmir. We witness this nation created by people with mystic descent from many thousands of years now ridden over rough-shod by shapes and sizes of governance unsympathetic to the inhabitants. If people are imprisoned unjustly then the true place for all honest men is also in a prison. This right has an appalling record in Kashmir. I quote Haragopal and Jagannatham (Economic & Political Weekly; July 11-17, 2009. p77) who say that Law Enforcing Agencies end up imitating and imbibing terrorist methods. This scenario is inevitable fallout of mechanistic confrontational approach, views asserted by the authors. The façade of efficiency turns into anarchy where people live atomized lives under the shadow of tyranny.
Good governance for Kashmir has influential consequences that demand a full synthetic analysis. In politics governance concept has a structure with at least ten components.
1. Participatory rule incorporates informed choices and organized institutions. There is freedom of association and expression with positive attitude towards emergence into consensus orientated civil society.
2. The second dimension is Accountability. Children killed or blinded by bullets are reported but no one is held to account. Children and parents are blamed.
3. The third constituent of governance is transparency that disappears from the norms of administration as soon as clientelism ethos sets in. There is a culture of promoting relatives and friends into prominence and elite cadres. Money and political influence distorts taking defaulters to the book.
4. Fourth dimension of governance is Effectiveness to produce results for actions taken to redress the needs of the society and sustainable use of natural resources and protection of environment.
5. The fifth component is Responsiveness wherein service is provided to all stakeholders within time frame. An application made by an aggrieved person must get a response in writing within a time frame.
6. The sixth pillar of governance is Consensus Orientation. Some disasters have befallen on the nation because the leaders at the top became infallible authoritarian. They implemented major projects at their own behest without consensus.
7. The seventh mainstay of governance is equity and inclusiveness. All social welfare programs must be egalitarian in nature and benefit all across the society.
8. The eight component of governance that is the cutting edge of success is adherence to the Rule of Law. The opposite of this component would be anarchy and the government qualifies to be ultra vires. Every successful government sets out a legal framework which includes both legislative and judiciary institutions and justice is seen to be done not only at the point of deliverance but right at the inception, when laws are made. In J&K the most unfortunate part for the governance is that a number of imported peremptory laws were imposed on the population. This framework is antithetical to good governance and needs to be reversed.
9. The Ninth component of governance as identified in my summing up is the Fiscal Management. This is well documented and gets publicity like a science. The two mechanisms used are Public Private Partnership or PPP or Use of Market like competition and Lassex Fair and allocating resources with strict and honest allocation. Right to govern is not property but trust and the object is not glory of rulers but the happiness of common man. The prime objective for those who have authority is to ensure deepening democratic engagement at every level and follow the rules in top down bureaucracy that no one is above law and importantly no one can be punished by the State except for clear breach of law or convicted except as set forth by law so that as Aristotle said 'Law shall govern'
10. The tenth commandment I assume must be to govern with a conscience. People are supreme and every item in governing policy must benefit them and every item in resource allocations have to be aimed at them directly. Article 55-6 of the UN Charter makes a clear provision that all governments promote development and living standard of the people. In Kashmir good governance has a special meaning for people who have suffered enormously for many decades.