Good Governance: J&K At Rank 21 Among 30 Indian States

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SRINAGAR: With “good governance” as the focus of attention in the remotely ruled Jammu and Kashmir, it is important to offer the latest benchmark: the turmoil hit state holds an overall rank of 21 in the state wise comparison of 2018, which is an improvement by three points from the last year, the 2017. It was at No 24 in 2016, so the state was struggling to recover the lost ground in last three years.

Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti with the new ministers after the cabinet reshuffle

The Public Affairs Index (PAI) – the yearly ranking of the Indian’s states by the Public Affairs Centre (PAC) is out for year 2018. In certain areas the improvement is impressive. In fiscal management, for instance, Jammu and Kashmir is at No 7, now.

This improvement led the last government’s sacked finance minister Dr Haseeb Drabu to go to twitter and announce. “At last the reason for my sacking has been made public!,” Drabu wrote on twitter. “J&K improved its ranking from 11 (2016) to 7 (2018) among all the States in Fiscal Management. It was 24 in 2015 when I became FM.”

Jammu and Kashmir figured at No 6 position among Indian states in 2016.

PAI is a data driven platform to rank the 30 States of India from the lens of governance. PAC has developed PAI as a unique statistical tool to evaluate the performance of governance in the States despite their social, cultural and economic heterogeneity.

PAI 2016 ranked the states on the basis of 10 broad themes, spread across 25 focus subjects and focusing on 68 individual indicators. PAI 2017 was similar to PAI 2016 and had 10 themes, 26 focus subjects and 82 indicators. PAI 2018, however, comprises of 10 broad themes, 30 focus subjects and a gamut of 100 indicators.

So where does Jammu and Kashmir figure on other areas of governance?

In Economic Freedom, Jammu and Kashmir is down in the bottom. From the rank 20 in 2016, it fell to 22 in 2017 and improved to 21 in 2018.

In Transparency and Accountability, the state was at rank 24 but remains at 22 in 2017 and 2018.

In Essential Infrastructure, the state is moving downwards. From rank 16 in 2016, it has gone down to rank 20 in 2017 to further losing points and is at rank 23 in 2018.

The cabinet of late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed

Under the category, Support to Human Development that takes care of education and health, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was at rank 17 in 2016. It went down to rank 22 in 2017 only to come back to its 2016 rank in 2018.

The Social Protection has witnessed interesting shifts. It was at rank 5 among all India states in 2016, then touched the No 1 rank in 2017 but lost its ground to reach No 11 in 2018. This category takes care of public distribution system, social justice, status of minorities and the employment status of the population.

For the category Women and Children that takes care of various parameters about the state and status of the vulnerable sections of the society, Jammu and Kashmir is not better. It was at rank 20 in 2016, only to deteriorate its position to 29 in 2017 and finally recover some of the ground and reach the rank of 23. This category analyses the crime rate against the two sections, the institutional deliveries and the women empowerment besides other host parameters to arrive at a conclusion.

However, under the category of Environment, Jammu and Kashmir is gradually doing the worst. A crucial category that takes care of pollution levels, rainfall, waste management and a dozen odd other parameters having the potential of the impact the overall ecology of the place puts Jammu and Kashmir at rank 28, that is third from the worst side. The state was at No 16 in 2016 and improved to rank 15 in 2017 but has gone downwards.

What is interesting is that the state is better placed in overall ranking among the states on Crime, Law and Order. It was at No 7 in 2016, then improved to No 2 in 2017 and finally is adjudged at No 4.

Interestingly, for the parameter Inequality, Jammu and Kashmir is at No 11. This ranking is for 2017 only because the PAC has not created this index for either 2016 or 2018.

The PAC has divided Indian states in two categories – bigger and smaller. Going by the size of Jammu and Kashmir, it falls in smaller category. If the parameters are compared within the category, Jammu and Kashmir may have certain parameters improved in comparison but overall Jammu and Kashmir falls towards the bottom of the overall ranking. The parameters may also offer an idea of who did what in last three years of a government that crumbled under its own weight and distrust last month.

Now when the PAC has already identified the parameters for good governance – right-now the in-thing in State Administrative Council (SAC) led by governor N N Vohra and over-emphasized by the central government, it remains to be seen which parameters will improve in coming days. PAC data has come to Jammu and Kashmir in the most interesting time. Let us wait and watch for 2019.

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