SPECIAL REPORT / ANCHOR
Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is passing through most testing times, not only on the front of security in the wake of Pak sponsored terrorism but also on administrative front due to lack of accountability in a section of bureaucracy, especially under the current gubernatorial regime. This is taking high toll of governance and bellying the expectations of the people at ground zero. Understandably, the Lt Governor and the Chief Secretary at the helm are not expected to involve themselves in knitty-gritty of routine administrative issues in view of the magnitude of challenges faced to the Union Territory. They have to deal with larger issues involving policy and planning at apex level to steer-out Jammu and Kashmir from the morass it is in. For looking after day to day administrative matters, a whole lot of bureaucracy is there to discharge its designated role, with some bureaucrats enjoying ministerial powers. Normally this should have been an ideal scenario to deliver on ground. But, unfortunately, this has led to arrogance in a section of higher bureaucracy, which unfortunately is having last word in decision making and governance in the present dispensation with the mechanism of normal ‘checks and balances’ missing. The sort of accountability in the political government is nowhere to be seen as politicians used to assert their authority and make bureaucracy to perform. Though fraught with too many pitfalls yet the element of checks and balances in political dispensations cannot be undermined or ignored. This missing link has rendered some of the officers unbridled, who are taking undue advantage of the continued absence of immediate superintendence. They have almost become rule unto themselves. This has made them arrogant and inaccessible to people. This lot of bureaucrats tends to give good-bye to the spirit of ‘public service’ as public servants and behave like masters. It has been observed that ‘smart-ones’ in the bureaucracy, not in terms of their competence but due to their art of maneuvering, succeed in getting plump postings of their choice. Some of this lot generally manage additional charge of two to three important departments in a bid to establish their hegemony. This is precisely what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir. Critical and comparative analysis of the transfers and postings will reveal how a particular set of bureaucrats keep shuffling the departments as a matter of right. This helps them to have some sort of clout which in return may bring them some ‘substance and stature’ but the people at large remain at the receiving end in the long run. In view of limited public access to authorities in the present structure of governance, the bureaucrats generally feel unaccountable, both to the government and the people. The team spirit in the administration is somehow missing. The initiative and drive at various levels is gone. In an accountable set up, the bureaucrats are supposed to be responsible for their behaviour, actions, decisions and deliverance. However, as may be seen in the present structure this sort of accountability is missing. The bureaucrats are behaving like bosses. The unscrupulous among them are creating obstacles in governance by indulging in delays and red-tapism. This generally leads to corruption, with people forced to pay for keeping administrative apparatus moving. One bureaucrat’s misdeeds cast shadow over the entire administration.
The present set of top people at the helm is needed to spare some time to find out what actually ails the administration. This can be done by strengthening the mechanism of feedback to know who’s who in the bureaucracy. Once convinced, the action should follow to send a terse and clear message to wrong-doers to behave or be prepared for quick exit. This should not be difficult in gubernatorial rule with no political interference. With such an atmosphere available, there is no reason why the unbridled bureaucrats in Jammu and Kashmir can be tamed.
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