Deep Rooted Inertia

Deep Rooted Inertia

More than 1,500 Common Services Centres (CSCs), created to deliver various digital services to people across Jammu and Kashmir, are reported to be defunct, even as people, especially in rural areas, are facing immense hardships to avail of services like Aadhaar and PAN cards in their respective areas. It may be noted that the CSC scheme, was aimed at providing high-quality, cost-effective video, voice and data content and services to people in the areas of e-governance, education, health, telemedicine, entertainment as well as other private services. This is happening against the back drop of a veritable Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) revolution elsewhere, in many locales. The irony is that as the rest of the world is getting more integrated and connected technologically and as technology gets interwoven into society, culture, economics and even politics, many parts in Kashmir remain bereft of its benefits. This is not to imply that technology is intrinsically good and value free or neutral but that many of its aspects are beneficial to individuals and society. And, that by failing to “go the last mile”, many people are being deprived of these benefits. Returning to the theme of the CSCs’, their malfunction or lack of access to these by the people means that there is a yawning digital divide in Kashmir. If the CSC’s remain dysfunctional here, people in far flung deprived arrears will continue to be laggards in almost all domains of life. The concept of the CSC’s appears to have been aimed at improving governance in Kashmir by making the administration visible, accessible, efficient and even transparent but as their dysfunction suggests, all this has been in vain. The question is: does the problem lie in implementation of the CSC’s and their rollout or does it lie with the nature of administration and governance ? In the final analysis, CSC’s are a scheme or a plan that is facing rollout glitches. This very fact suggests that the real problem might lie elsewhere. The obvious culprit here is the administration, which is defined by deep rooted, structural inertia. It is this inertia and the multiple, at times, over lapping layers that actually precludes translation and implementation of schemes and plans on the ground, so to speak. Can this inertia be overcome? Perhaps. But, it will take a whole sale revamp of the administration and its structures and the establishment of a new governance paradigm which, in turn, can only happen if and when there is will. Whether this will can be generated is the million dollar question.

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