The Illusion of Governance

The Illusion of Governance

Were if not for a Sunday, total chaos would have reigned the streets of Srinagar. However, despite being a holiday and a cold, wet wintry day, Srinagar city was not a picture perfect portrait of calm and quiet. The reasons for the disquiet (not political) in the winter capital, was the few inches of snow that had fallen during the night. As the disarray on the streets on Srinagar demonstrated, the administration was yet again- despite ample prior warnings- caught unawares. Yes, the organs of the administration , like the Srinagar Municipal Corporation(SMC) did swing into action and did what it could do but the scale of the problem appeared to be beyond the resources and capacity of the Corporation. Water clogged roads and streets, traffic disarray and the meanderingly slow other services of the administration gave short shrift to whatever the SMC did. The problem, in terms of the response, is that the machinery of the administration is slow and unwieldy and moreover, action is taken post facto. That is, after the event(s). There are no pre- emptive measures or steps taken that could prevent problems snowballing. To be fair, it could be stated that the issue is of state capacity and capability which do not correspond to the scale of the problems in Kashmir. That is, the scale and scope of problems is so massive that the state’s resources and capacities are inadequate. While this may be true, but in a day where technology and communications are readily available , the issue appears to boil down to the problem of will of the ‘mainstream’ political class. To quote a wit who spoke by way of a metaphor, ‘ it is politics( or the political class) that is the rider and the horse is the governing/ governance framework’. If this framework falters, then the onus of blame lies on the political class. In terms of Kashmir, the ‘mainstream’ political class’ claim to power is prosaic governance issues like bijli, sadak and pani. But, as the poor delivery and performance in these domains suggests, the political class falters in these domains too. The reasons perhaps pertain to the accountability and performance issues. Perhaps because Kashmir is Kashmir- a conflict ridden region- latitude is given to the ‘mainstream’ political class to get away with minimum standards of performance, accountability and oversight. But, it is the people who get stuck in a morass of miseries and problems and in a supreme irony, it is these very people who are sought for votes for the betterment of these very issues – resolution of which remains an illusion.

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