DURBAR MOVES

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Amid celebrations of Eid, what Kashmir will missing is to see the huge caravans of lorries and trucks taking the durbar to Jammu for its six months stint. Top officers of the state government have already presided over a series of meetings to ensure everything is in place at Jammu to host tens of thousands of officials who function as the sub-stations of the state’s governance structure. This archaic practices that started as a way out to retain Kashmir as part of Dogra territory soon after Kashmir was sold, has actually become a tradition that consumes millions every six months.

Over the last six decades, many wise men tried to make adequate interventions to make it people friendly. For assassinated prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, the idea of durbar move was quite enigmatic. During his 1987 visit to Srinagar in the midst of a massive snowfall, he had suggested that even if the durbar moves without break, it should move in reverse direction. Jammu should have the government with it when it is facing scorching heat and Kashmir should have the active presence of the government when it snows during winter. Apparently, it was a good idea. But good ideas do not matter.

Later, when the then Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah tried to reduce the number of departments in his move to Jammu, it triggered an agitation and the idea was shelved altogether. The idea was revisited by one of Farooq’s capable and controversial aides. Using the adequate funds coming from information technology, the officer initiated the process of digitization. The idea was simple. The entire file work that moves around should be digitized and stored in twin stores at Jammu and Srinagar. While this will reduce the physical movement of the files, it will also ensure speedy disposal. Additionally, digital mobility of the files would add to the overall transparency and prevent babus from sleeping over files. It would have mattered least whether the officer is in Jammu or Srinagar as the file would be available on tip of his finger. The idea too died within days.

The larger reality is that while thousands of families who are part of move have adopted to better weather conditions and part of them have built houses in both cities, fiddling with the practice may not be an idea at all. Right now, when durbar is moving to Jammu, a minister will stay here on rotational basis. But given the prevailing conditions, the government may require to do more. The biggest crisis right now that Kashmir is facing is an acute shortage of LPG. The government is yet to offer a system that will enable the commoners to get LPG regardless of the costs and the new procedures in vogue. And it is just tip of an iceberg.

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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