Potholed City

Potholed City
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The open potholes that Srinagar City and perhaps other urban and rural centres are dotted with present a clear and a present danger to its residents. This is a statement of the obvious; open potholes are so prevalent in the city that people actually have become used to these, taking them in their stride. Were it not for the fact that life grinds to a halt after dark in Kashmir, it would not be surprising if these ugly potholes would exacted many victims on a daily basis. But, still regardless of this fact, something should and must be done about these. But, the question that arises is why are potholes kept open? On the face of it, the issue appears to be of sheer neglect and the rather callous attitude towards the public health, in open public spaces. But, the pothole menace also is reflective of the broader governance paradigm , especially in the Kashmir division of the region. What strikes as the obvious feature of governance here is inertia. The structures of governance paradigms are so defined by inertia and are so ossified, that it affects public welfare, in egregious terms. One easy and facile explanation for this condition would be the conflict in and over Kashmir; that is, because of the conflict governance suffers. Before elaborating on this point further, it may be pointed out here that there is no link to governance and the conflict and governance cannot be a substitute for conflict resolution and the fact of the conflict here is, at time, used by powers that be as a fig leaf or cover by those at the helm of administrative affairs. What then is the real issue? Apathy and indifference are the obvious answers. But, there is more. This pertains to the politicization of almost everything in Kashmir, including governance, which in the context of Kashmir, becomes a patronage disbursal machine, instead of delivering public goods for the welfare of the people. The consequence(s) of these issues and themes are borne by the people of Kashmir. All this explains, to an extent, the reasons for our potholed city. Will, the question now is, the governance paradigm in Kashmir improve? Not till processes, structure and people manning these, become sensitive and attuned to the real needs of the people. Till then, our cities and urban centers, will be pockmarked with these ugly scars.