Abysmal Standards!

Abysmal Standards!

An experience that almost every Kashmir- except the powerful and the influential- rues and dreads is the interface with public officials of the administration. Be it the clerk at a public office or the official in charge, what stands out in the interface between the public and these amounts to almost harassment. The reasons accrue from apathy, indifference to public good , corruption and an abysmal work culture. The victim is the public as it is at the receiving end of the this apathetic and unethical behavior and work culture. This is a theme that cuts across administrations. Yes, there are a handful of honest and scrupulous people but as they say, “ one swallow does not make a summer”. The question is why is this thematic poor work culture and bad behavior tolerated? Why do people have to be at the sufferance and be victims of bad and even predatory behavior? The reasons are manifold. One major reason is that the people constituting the administration are a class in their own right. They constitute a vested interest group which, in itself, generally speaking, is a product of patronage politics. This reason melds into the other, that is, given that patronage creates this class, they are not motivated by public welfare and interest. Accountability, therefore, flows upward for them, not downward, to the people. This class feels accountable to the political class and then they hardly care about people. Then there is the issue of corruption which , in the jargon of political economy, is referred to as rent seeking predatory behavior. Public office and the power and functions it accords, is by and large, used for private gain. This has almost become a norm here. The victims again are the people. Can , the question now, is work culture be ever improved in Kashmir? The answer is a grim one. Because there are no downward and upward pressures on performance and there are no real and substantive checks on corrupt behavior, and because there is the element of patronage involved, work culture in Kashmir is unlikely to improve for the better. There is also the issue of societal tolerance of corruption involved in the equation. No social sanction takes place against corruption and conspicuous consumption- one major factor that leads to corruption- is encouraged in society. If at all, work culture is to be made effective and efficient in Kashmir , it would take a revolution- in attitudes, behavior and politics. For now and perhaps even in the distant future, this does not appear to be on the horizon.

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