When it comes to strengthening institutions or mechanisms that can bring in an element of accountability and minimise corruption, the government seemingly has neither will nor capacity to do so. Successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir have allowed the pot of corruption to boil without even making a serious effort to keep it in check.
They have a vested interest to maintain status quo. This suits both the politicians and bureaucrats who are interested in covering up for their individual and collective deeds of omission and commission. For their survival, they will never allow healthy institutions, which can keep their misdeeds under check, to flourish. The fate of the State Accountability Commission and the Right to Information Act are evident examples.
Despite much fanfare with which these two were introduced, they continue to be dead horses, which the men in power flog every time only for their own petty politicking. The SAC, which started restoring people’s faith in democratic institutions and governance, became defunct after a year of its creation in 2005, after repeated political interference that seriously hampered its functioning. As of today, it is facing credibility crisis with people dithering away from lodging complaints.
Three judges with impeccable record have just 9 to 10 add cases to decide. As for RTI’s tragic tale, the commission is virtually defunct with just one member and government finding it difficult to find Chief Information Commissioner (CIC). The basic purpose in dragging feet over the vital question of empowering these institutions and enabling people to play a more participatory role in governance is to put all corrupt practices under the garbs.
In pursuit of this every attempt is made to deny information to the people and making public men accountable. Important institutions that can be good mechanisms for bringing in accountability and transparency are ignored. But on the other hand, frivolous institutions and boards are being strengthened and created mainly with a purpose to rehabilitate favourites and retired bureaucrats or the rejected politicians. Enormous money is being spent without helping the common masses with their day to day problems.
The government has got its priorities all wrong. There is just no seriousness, either in the present government or the previous ones, about changing the corrupt system. It suits many individuals who
enjoy the petty benefits, pocketing hefty sums as commissions in various deals, projects and even effecting transfers of officers within the state administration. They perpetuate and patronize corruption at the top, middle and lower levels in pursuance of their own personal financial prosperity. The institutions totally crumble and the top heavy administrative apparatus becomes totally hollowed from within, despite its huge size.
For the common masses, it just fails to exist. The basic issues of food security, health, water, electricity, roads and education play a subservient role to the larger politics of revitalising a corrupt regime. All political parties, without any exception, are uninterested in breaking this vicious cycle. They all want to enjoy the crumbs of power and happily allow corruption and mismanagement to flourish. They all fail to take any effective measures while in power, out of power, they divert people’s attention by picking up non issues, or at best isolated cases of mal-administration, never questioning why important institutions have been ignored. Nobody wants to come to grips with the fact that no accountability is bad governance