New Year; Old worries.

Zamir  Ahmad
The advent of the new year is normally celebrated around the world with a splash of light and colors. Even those who do not celebrate the event look forward towards the new year with hope and anticipation. Change is the essence of life and passing years are like milestones onto the journey of life signifying the events of one’s life spread over a certain time period.

Being able to discern change is as important as the change itself. For us in Kashmir, sadly, the markers for change are seldom pleasant. For us the passing years have rarely been the harbingers of positive news. Take for instance, the power scenario in the state. Come winters and our newspapers are splashed with headlines screaming about inadequate electricity and frequent shut downs. The scenario has not changed despite the fact that the state boasts of having huge hydropower potential. The debates around the power crisis have remained static as well. The allegations of a pilferage against the NHPC and those of sell-out against the state  have neither changed the power situation nor forced a rethink on part of the government about proper exploitation of state’s natural resources.

Power has now become a scoring point for all those ‘who are in power or out of it’. The political debates have become painful and hilarious at the same time. Whileas no political party is offering concrete solutions to overcome the crisis, most of them are busy in trading blames. The first salvo came from the opposition PDP when it recently remembered that one of the slogans used by NC in the elections was “Meter Hatao; Bijli jalao. Not to be outdone, the Chief Minister recently lampooned the opposition for their rhetoric saying that not a single power project was commissioned during the PDP’s rule. He had conveniently forgotten that Power Projects, like any other infrastructure project, have certain gestation periods.

The separatist leader Mirwaiz must be regretting to have made a reference to power shortage in one of his Friday sermons. The unionist politicians immediately interpreted his statement as a welcome change in Mirwaiz’ political outlook. The icing on the cake was, but, the Chief Minister’s statement asking the Mirwaiz to issue a Fatwa on power theft. The CM, who also holds the power portfolio, (traditionally the National Conference, whenever in power, has always kept the power portfolio with the Chief Minister) should have known that public affairs are not run on the backs of decrees. Not least the Governments. He should have known that there are enough checks and balances in the system to curtail power pilferage and none of them has to do with fatwas or religious decrees. A strong political will and effective control over government machinery can do wonders if our rulers shun the trait of leaving governance to Babus imported from the plains. This statement of the CM is a self mockery of his own administrative skills. Even as a political retort, it presents the Chief Minister in a poor light as not being able to take constructive criticism sportingly.

While the people in other parts of the planet shall be celebrating the new year with colors and light, ours shall remain to be a gloomy state grimly reminding us about our hapless present and a hopeless future.

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