First and Second Order Issues

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“Good governance” is a contested and even a loaded term. While there is no consensus on what it precisely means, but the elusive definition might only be an academic quibble. From a prosaic and practical perspective, good governance can, if not actually defined but may be put into perspective by the difference it makes to the lives of the people and perhaps in comparative terms. In terms of the latter, the nature and form of governance can be compared with different places, especially the advanced and developed countries and put in stark contrast to extant governance practices obtaining in a given place.  Or, in terms of the former, governance can perhaps even be quantified by the difference it makes to peoples’ lives in a given context. In both instances and parameters, governance in Jammu and Kashmir fails to measure up.  While there are reasons for the abysmal level of governance in the region, but it is, to large extent, self made. Yes, the structures of the administration are defined by inertia but this problem is aggravated by corruption, the politics of patronage, vested interests, bureaucratization of governance, and other related problems. From this, one theme might stand out: the conflictual conditions that obtain, especially in the Kashmir division of the region, cannot be the sole causal mechanism in the poor conditions of governance here. It might even be that conflictual conditions are held to be an excuse for non performance and non work by vested interests. The conflict here is a constant. If there is a will to work and improve upon the welfare of the people, it is not an impediment. To take recourse to a cliché, if there is a will there is a way. But, the problem, is comprised of an admixture of related components and themes like corruption, patronage and vote bank politics, cronyism, nepotism and favoritism, and so on. While there is an elite class of assorted people, who have access to power, patronage and resources, who benefit, the majority of people here are and remain at the sufferance of these structural diseases, problems and blights. Will there be a day when governance will improve in Kashmir? While this is a difficult question to answer, but the remedy might lie in addressing first order issues, followed by a sequence of second and third order ones. But, as far as the eye can see, this combination which requires political will, might be far into the mists of time.