Hollowed Slogans

PDP had promised J&K a responsive, honest and clean administration that will be accountable. After three quarters and various administrative reshuffles later, it continues to be a pipe dream. Levels of corruption remain unchanged as the institutional decay, being attributed to predecessors, has jumped to next level.

So far, the only initiative was to weed out dead wood. A list was already made public and most of the people who had lost their jobs have approached courts and must be readying to return to the service. What disturbed the situation recently was that, at least four officials who were expected to join the ‘dead wood’ lot managed their postings honourably. As systems in place were prevented from following the course in this case, the four emerged to be the party and individual choices.

Even Congress campaigned in case of an officer having a dozen odd cases with the state vigilance organization and was rehabilitated with dignity and full honour. In two other cases, a minister threw his full weight behind them and ensured they are back to business.

While transfers and postings seemingly are the two main priorities with most of the ministers, the emphasis is still on loyalty factor and individual choices. Had the government been concerned about the overall administration, J&K would have a full-fledged planning commissioner. It is a position that Chief Secretary retains as an additional charge. In another case, a senior officer was thrown out simply because he resisted his minister’s illegal ideas.

There is no harm in ministers having personal preferences in posting of their secretaries but there has to be some principle guiding the process. Vicious campaigns against officers are the new normal in civil secretariat and it embarrassed the government quite recently when state’s chief secretary opted for voluntarily retirement. Some ministers are ruthlessly chasing the target of accommodating their blue eyed boys, sometimes flouting rules.

In Jammu, the situation has touched abysmal levels especially in lower rung staff. Off late, various districts of Jammu have witnessed a literal migration of positions manned by a particular community. The idea of seeing-off officials from a particular community has gone to a level that a minister almost started quarrelling over not getting a particular officer removed from his district. It has created an unprecedented situation that J&K has not witnessed so far. Though majority-minority combination in the state is 2:1, the system in vogue was that if a district gets a Muslim DC, it should essentially have a non-Muslim SP. That balanced administration has seemingly been given up for a particular belt.  The other balancing factor between the KAS and IAS has also been done away with as key districts are being handled by juniors lacking experience and knowledge.

With ministers having strong choices, the police are waiting for almost a year for their seniority and proper posting. Even for the last cabinet meeting, the initial police transfer list was of around 40 officers which was halved in the first night and finally only nine were touched. After the cabinet was over, there were changes affected in both police and the civil administration transfers, which is setting not a good precedence.

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