The Rebel

The Rebel
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It goes without saying that Government(s) and inertia go together. This assertion holds true for government in developed and less(er) developed contexts. But, the problem or issue which is more acute in the developing world gets compounded in conflict riven contexts. In these contexts, administrations are usually patronage driven and the name of the game is often times disbursal of patronage. Amidst these conditions, many a times, officials become lumpen and cozy up to the political class. All this has a searing resonance in Kashmir. The system, howsoever warped it is or can be, becomes hostage to vested interests. But, of late, a headwind can be observed in Jammu and Kashmir, which is not only taking on the system and the political class but also doing some good to the people of the region. This headwind is personified by Basant Rath, who has been given the charge of traffic and its management and who apparently is doing his job not only diligently but also is trying to shake up the traffic management system, right from the minutia or the micro to the macro. This activism has “earned” Rath the ire of some sections of the political class. (Some have viciously and vituperatively cast doubts on him and his psychological makeup). Incidentally, these vicious diatribes are, at best, the reflection of the system here and, at worse, the reflection of insecurity by those who feel threatened by Rath’s activist interventions in the domain of traffic management. Often times, what happens in the power political structures of the administration are that the political blurs into the administrative. This cozy arrangement is often mutually for the political class and many officials beneficial but redounds negatively for the people. But, Rath, in his domain, appears to be shaking this arrangement which obviously is not endearing him to the political class. This may even entail paying prices in terms of either transfer to what are called “cells” in Kashmir or marginalization through the instrument of promotions. Rath’s activism might be predicated upon his idealism and youth. Whatever the source, the man seems determined to be a flag bearer of change and administrative ethics. The question is can Rath sustain his activism against the back drop of strong countervailing forces, inertia and nature of the system in Jammu and Kashmir. Whilst there are many instances of individuals shaking up systems across the world, but there are also many who the system ends up socializing into its structures and processes. Which way Rath will go remains an open question.

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