Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Jul 2018 11:28:24

UNION Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh has made a very critical and accurate observation that peace and stability could be brought to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) through an honest administration. Though this observation may appear simple, its criticality in the given situation is immense. For, as the experience has taught the nation, the State of Jammu and Kashmir has rarely had an honest administration wedded to the cause of good governance. Through long decades, successive State Governments have only made a mockery of administration by distorting central directives and wrongly defining State laws. Taking advantage of the Special Status which the Article 370 of the Constitution of India, the J&K administration often kept the nation in dark about many issues critical to good governance. This reality of the ugly underbelly of Kashmir’s administration came to light when Mr. Jagmohan was sent in as Governor twice over. It was he who showed how rules and regulations and laws were distorted by the political element in the State Government. The point Mr. Singh is making highlights this point precisely.

The State was never without adequate central funding, but its people remained poor. This has been so because the political leadership of Jammu and Kashmir, under all dispensations, only abused the funds and diverted it to unholy purposes. Much of the money that the Centre kept pumping into the State’s economy for decades found their outbound channels into a dark zone with no trace. The reason why Mr. Jagmohan’s rule was appreciated by one and all was that he created a sound administrative ethic that was made to work for the common people and their genuine interests beyond politics. That experience is adding to the what Mr. Rajnath Singh has said.

During the past three years when Ms. Mehbooba Mufti headed the coalition Government of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the administration continued to be sluggish, so much so that it could do nothing to stop the ugly stone pelting on security forces nor could it take to the people welfare gains. Mr. Rajnath Singh has pointed to this failure very appropriately. In one way, the Union Home Minister has diagnosed the real disease afflicting Kashmir. He is right in talking about poor administration of the State through decades of different political dispensations. He, and therefore the Centre, seems to have arrived at this conclusion only after having analysed the reasons of the overall failure of administration of the troubled State. This is a serious situation that needs to be addressed on an urgent basis as a big challenge.

If the State has to be brought under a happy spell of peace and prosperity, then efforts will have to taken to ensure that the administration is honest and transparent and responsive to the people’s needs. These fundamental attributes of good administration must be applied first in Kashmir so that the overall administrative ethic improves to take care of every citizen’s best interests. This may not be happening everywhere in the country. But what is happening in Kashmir is nothing but a total rejection of basic administrative ethic and culture, which Mr. Rajnath Singh is talking about. Under the Governor’s Rule, some efforts can be made to a fair degree of success.

For that to achieve, the Centre will have to be absolutely strict and operate on a no-nonsense level. The central message of this effort should be that rule of law controls the State and not the whims and fancies of the political leadership. If this message is capably passed on to the people in the State and also elsewhere in the country, a new era of good governance will get started in J&K. Once that gets going, much of the trouble in the State will be answered effectively. Of course, it is easier said than achieved, given the rotten system that operates there. Yet, a good beginning needs to made.