A general experience in Kashmir has been that after the 1989 popular rebellion against the status quo the quality of services, which the local administration rendered to the people as their right, and the attention to common public concerns by the officialdom has continuously reduced. Although there has been no change in the dynamic of the services provided to the common masses against their political loyalties to the ruling elite, the nature of that relationship has become more blatant.
A certain robust preparation used to be initiated as winter approached. Officials and government workers used to be on an alert for weather related difficulties the people would face and the response to failures of electricity and water supply would get some sincere attention, as would communication and road clearance immediately after a heavy snowfall. But the general perception among the people has been that the administration now uses lame and lazy excuses as weather turns hostile and the officialdom expects the people to ‘understand’ their difficult working conditions.
As the climate patterns change it’s not very often that Kashmir experienced the kind of snowfall in the middle of Chilai Kalan as we did this winter. Six inches of snow nearly paralyzed the administration and froze electricity and water supply in many areas including the capital city of Srinagar. Some areas didn’t receive electricity and water for days. In fact even today there are dark and dry pockets in Srinagar where residents are suffering for the callousness of some administration officials ignoring the areas where ‘support’ for the ruling party doesn’t exist.
In the nineteen eighties the local administration would even issue newspaper and radio adverts advising people how to minimize accidents and prepare for the harsh weather conditions. Government workers used to be on their toes for maintaining services like electricity and water supply to the residents with maximum utilization of all resources available to the government of the day. But now it appears that most of the governmental capacity is deployed at the service of the ruling elite and for ‘security control’. As if ensuring basic amenities to the general public was not a security concern!
This insensitive attitude of the administration towards the plight of the general public during adverse weather conditions speaks volumes of the priorities the present day administration (post-1989) have. Governmental services for the common residents are often maintained as a favour to them rather than a basic right. Such basic services like water and electricity supply cannot be dispensed in lieu of any political expectation, and when it is the relationship between the masses and the administration or the government becomes one of master and slaves rather than a right its purported to be.