Many people have been repeatedly saying about “Change”, people who realize that some good is waiting to happen if we make necessary readjustments to new circumstances and realities. But very few people have gone a step further and disclosed as what exactly is needed. Therefore the shibboleth “Change” has been marred by a lot left unsaid. Leaders representing the entire political spectrum – mainstream politicians, those who have just entered the state political arena, and separatist leadership – have a right as well as duty to have an acute vision of what is happening at present and what is going to happen as a consequence. As elected and approved leaders they are guardians and vigilantes of the people, their roles being all inclusive. It is annoying that the leaders who should be working in oneness to help the people are divided in their opinions, interests and actions. This has resulted in pitched battles where every other person shouldering some responsibility or about to do so is using “Change” to climb the ladder and bring down the other. Instead of sharing, put forth their suggestions, people who want to represent genuine causes and concerns of people keep it to themselves to help their own ambitious plans. This is the first Change that is needed in the state – the leadership has to be responsible enough to put the concerns of the people at top and not indulge in faultfinding and scoring points.
Youth is undoubtedly among the most ignored sections of people in J&K state. Grievances and strong feelings of resentment in youth are justified. The problem of over-education and unemployment of youth are such that the state has to do a lot of work to save the situation. There are hundreds of qualified persons who have to adjust themselves in positions not meant or suitable for them. Scholars with doctorates and specializations are teaching in primary schools. The vacancies that usually are created in large number often require less qualified persons in terms of academic degrees. The situation is getting worse with increasing number of college and university graduates and decreasing number of vacancies for them. With more colleges and universities the state would be able to expand the net of higher education. However, when such persons won’t be accommodated after completion of studies, the problem would become more intense. A Change as we see is needed and most representatives would admit. But when it comes to solution, no one offers a suggestion, or even a clue. The way education system in the state works, students pursue education with different goals. For most education is occupational pre-requisite. Students who go for higher education do not have only ‘learning part’ in their mind. They also want themselves to make a respectable living once that learning part is over. Sadly, higher learning and the supporting enterprises/industry are not in balance in the state. There are little prospects due to non-existent research organisations, academic institutions and related support base. Many scholars unfortunately have to leave our state for this reason and get engaged either in other states or other countries. Those who are left behind realize that they are too qualified to fill a lower position. A lot have no choice but to accept whatever is available. Either the state can help these persons by adjusting them elsewhere which would have a smaller effect of brain-drain or the state can work upon the required support base. That is the Change needed.
Apart from higher education, a large sub section of unemployed youth have been ignored and neglected differently. It is no secret that many non-governmental organisations who receive immense funds operate in the state whose primary objective is to engage the unemployed. However, due to lack of transparency, only a select group of youth are engaged. Mostly they are the favourites, recommended lot and close relatives of those heading and operating these organisations. It is a policy failure for which Central Government is responsible more than the state government. The central assistance and funding is not checked properly. Meanwhile, Government of India is complacent that they are helping the youth in the state, but matter of fact is that there is complete disconnect between large section of youth and the blue-eyed ones plus the policy. Many researchers, heads of social and civil action groups, etc., are keeping the Centre, the State and the people of J&K in dark for their own selfish interests. The deserving youth and candidates in the state hardly get a chance to prove themselves. The state has in fact failed to create employment and opportunities for youth. While the rest of India is growing, why is J&K state becoming more and more dependent? IT (Information Technology) is one of the major industries and in Indian exports, IT services is among the top five. While we have telecom services here taking the buck from people, they do not realize their responsibility and the state government has given them a freehand. Call Centres are operating 300 kms away from the Valley when they could have employed thousands here. In any state dial the number of customer care and you hear the local voice by local executive. In Kashmir call the number and we don’t know what to make of the person on line. This goes with the rest of industries as well, which have turned Kashmiris into hungry consumers and forgotten their responsibilities. It is colonial approach. A Change is needed here. If popular industries don’t care about important needs of state’s population, their business doesn’t deserve any support or patronisation.
So far as general population is considered, the equilibrium is unsettled – there is widely accepted perception that meritorious have to struggle and still do not reach the positions that they deserve. Nepotism without speck of a doubt has hit the state hard as we find “yes-men” everywhere. A Change is needed at organisational and societal levels. These “yes-men” are also people of this state. The state government has to discourage the culture, but at the same time the people of the state also have to bring changes in them. When people would stop offering bribes and not get into the habit of “sefarish” many problems would be solved on their own. It is also the duty of every person who is witness to such incidents and cases to bring them in public notice. Often it is the responsible people who maintain their silence and indirectly help such waywardness. A Change is needed, not only in the state apparatus but also the common attitude of the people of the state.
A Change is need for overall transparency and accountability in the state governance. Even today, if some survey reveals J&K to be the most corrupt state in India or Asia, it won’t be surprising. The corruption has not only washed-up the great institutions of the state but also taken a toll on our psyche. Our intellectuals instead of adhering to the principles of greater good are turning into marauders with ends culminating in their own ambitions. They preach about only those changes that help them more than anyone else. We are deep in the web of intellectual bankruptcy and a change is definitely needed. The corruption therefore does not begin and end with public/private offices where bribes have become an acceptable norm. This has encouraged incompetence throughout. Contractors, public workers, engineers, doctors, top officers of the state institutions, directors and their long chain of subordinates, clerks, peons, linemen , foremen, supervisors, educationists, mohalla presidents... the disease of corruption has caught all. If state apparatus including multiple institutions like vigilance, accountability commission, police and crime departments, even RTI have failed to grab the culprits, society also has played its part. The economic inequality and mobility in last few decades have got unchecked at societal level too. Social status is defined by wealth and powerful position no matter how it is achieved. Instead of resisting it, people have been welcoming it. Respect for truth, honesty, sincerity is dwindling. There are new icons, role models and stereotypes that have replaced the good folk of yesteryears. Young generation are taught to be street smart, ambitious, look for opportunities and grab them whenever there is a chance. The state or governments are not completely responsible for it. The Change is need in the outlook of the people, how they see and distinguish between right and wrong.
In institutions, both state-operated, governmental as well as privately managed have seen the decay. People tend to raise their voice when they are personally affected and that too for government institutions. What has happened to institutions that run on charities? Where are the accounts of socio-religious centers which have been receiving donations and charities for decades now? Where does the socio-cultural-religious cause stand when compared to the abysmal performances of these centers, their bleak records of transparency and intrinsic corrupt elements? Any commoner would have the resentment for not knowing what happens to the money he willingly drops in the green painted box for a good cause. If the government does not have its land records and state property right, the non-government institutions do not even know if “khata” (accounts book) exists. A Change is needed not only to make governments accountable but every institution that operates within the state.
By sharing and by making suggestions no person or representative can drop a level down. On the contrary, it will help all people including their representatives. We all need to Change if we expect the good to happen.