The Democratic Connect
The LG Admn has done phenomenally well in terms of development and social welfare. But people are missing the dynamics of democratic politics for a unique reason
Despite the years of turmoil and unrest in Kashmir, it is interesting to note that our people are deeply rooted in the democratic spirit and culture. There have been times aplenty when our leaders were not guided by the principles of democracy. But our people have always cherished democratic values.
This is the reason why the people of Jammu and Kashmir seem to be missing the elected government. The reason is not that they are lacking efficient administration. An honest assessment of the administrative delivery shall reveal that the LG administration has done phenomenally well in terms of well-delivered development initiatives. People appreciate the zeal and vigour of the LG administration in changing the developmental scenario. The opinion makers and those who keep a watch on the overall performance of the incumbent UT administration also make the same assessment.
Missing The Elected Representative
Yet, people are missing the dynamics of democratic politics for a unique reason. People in general are missing the elected government in office. This phenomenon is being observed despite the fact that accountability and transparency has improved phenomenally. For the first time, government servants are punctual in their offices. Government plans and expenditures are not witnessing roadblocks. Public grievances are being redressed within the stipulated time period.
Unique to the psyche and also the spirit, there is something that our people are missing in their day to day affairs. An honest analysis reveals that the missing link between the people and the government is the elected representative – the MLA, minister or chief minister. People are missing the political leader who bridges the gulf between the state and the citizens, or between the rural and the ruled.
LG Shri Manoj Sinha is an able administrator. He is hardworking and committed to his role. But still, there is a gulf with the people. What is that gulf and who is going to bridge the gulf?
The Deep Democratic Spirit
People have the perception that the world is evolving, and so is this very small piece of land called Kashmir. Development is an evolving process. It shall happen tomorrow if not today. It was marred by violence yesterday and hindered by the corrupt practices of those who governed the region. But nevertheless, development is a continuous process. Growth is the law of nature.
Electoral democracy may be flawed in many ways, but it has inculcated the democratic spirit among the people. The democratic spirit is now deep within the people. They are used to seeking answers from the persons in authority. They are used to their involvement in governance. They are used to recommending to the rulers – the elected representatives – what they feel is in larger public interest.
In the absence of an elected government, everything may be going on the right track, but it does not bear the mark of deep involvement of the general public. In such a scenario, it is the bureaucracy which has to address and fill the gap demanded by this unique and cherished democratic spirit.
The universal definition of democracy is ‘Government of the people, by the people and for the people’. If you don’t have an elected government in office, it is the bureaucracy – particularly the district administration – that has to fill the vacuum. It is the DC and the SP who fill the space occupied by the MLA or the minister. At times they even need to fill the space occupied by the chief minister.
Democratic Spirit Must Be Cherished, Strengthened
This is not just rhetoric. This is vital for a society. Men and women in authority cannot afford to let the democratic spirit of the people sag. More than other places, the democratic spirit must be cherished, valued and strengthened in Jammu and Kashmir.
The deep democratic connect is what people expect from the administration in the absence of an elected government. As discussed above, the fundamental question is not about any lag in developmental works. The more important thing is the connect between the people and the administration. Those who are able to build this democratic connect score a major achievement.
The greater the synergy and understanding between the district civil and police administration, the greater is the connect between the people and the administration. It has been noticed that public outreach is very poor in the districts where respective DCs and SPs have poor compatibility with each other. One finds exemplary connect between the people and the administration in the districts where DCs and SPs have high understanding. It is not appropriate to talk about the strained relationship between the DCs and SPs in some districts. But we can definitely talk about the cordial relationships between the DCs and SPs in some districts.
CASE STUDY – PULWAMA DISTRICT
Exemplary Connect Between DC and SSP
Pulwama district in south Kashmir presents a very encouraging and fascinating case study. Pulwama is on the top regarding all markers of self-reliance and development. People of the district are hard-working. They have diversified means of livelihood. Fresh fruit, dry fruit, dairy, small and large scale industry – these are the main highlights of the overall growth of the district.
Simultaneously, the developmental works are going on at an impressive pace. But the secret behind the satisfaction of the people is neither the developmental index nor self-reliance. The fundamental reason is that DC Pulwama Baseer-ul-Haq Choudary and SSP Ghulam Jeelani Wani have a people-friendly approach. Offices of both the DC and the SSP wear a busy look with a constant inflow of visitors. Both officers are on the mission of building a greater connect with the people. They keep visiting the far flung areas of the district, interact with the people, give them a patent hearing, treat them with respect and dignity. This is precisely what people yearn for.
According to DC Baseer-ul-Haq Choudary, people of different social and economic backgrounds have different opinions, different sets of beliefs. What binds them together is their self-esteem and self-respect.
Baseer says the administrator must give people with true and deep respect in order to earn their respect. “That is what we (DC and SP Pulwama) are trying to do,” Baseer said. He said that generally people have this perception that development will take place and they can wait for it. What they yearn for is the communication of love and respect. He said that he and his SSP are making all possible efforts to have a friendly and respectful relationship with the people of the district.