Good beginning, but…
Published on March 08, 2017

Some time back when government sacked for “corrupt and non-performing” officials, the move attracted some appreciation. It seemed an encouraging development in the sense that it showed government’s resolve to go against the non-performing officials or the “dead-wood” they were described as. However, over the past few months almost all those officials who were sacked have been reinstated by the courts. And obviously this would not have been possible if the government had really done its home-work and made fool-proof cases to justify its decision. So the obvious conclusion that one could draw from this entire episode – that of sacking officials but then failing to defend this decision in the court of law – has only attracted damage to the government’s stance and standing, besides of course evaporating whatever goodwill the move had generated in the first place. And with it has also gone away the promise and hopes of government delivering this state from the wicked clutches of institutional and officially patronized corruption.

This is an abject need of bringing in accountability and transparency in the systems of governance here and for this government will have to devise ways and means that could withstand legal scrutiny. Just sacking people for the sake of it doesn’t help. There has to be a well-calibrated policy wherein anyone in the system found short of the requisite commitment and performance output will have to go. This cannot happen in an arbitrary manner. There has to be a proper methodology for it – something that could communicate to the unscrupulous and corrupt government functionaries that their sleazy and depraved practices won’t go unnoticed and unaccounted for. That, if caught they will have to face axe and the process would be such that even courts can’t come to their rescue.

Another major deterrent could be the “naming and blaming” part of the anti-corruption initiative. Unfortunate though that Jammu and Kashmir is collectively yet to censure and denounce corruption as an unaccepted and immoral practice, but it also goes without saying that facing unceremonious and scornful exit from government service is not going to win badges of appreciation and achievement for the recipient. Those who are forced to say good-bye to their official positions and status for the sheer reason of their wrong-doings are not going to claim societal sympathy. This could prove a far more effective consideration and would certainly be of great help.

However, the condition is that the government will have to sincerely sustain the initiative and ensure that it is not abused as a tool for witch-hunting. Jammu and Kashmir besides all other ills to its credit, has continued with the dubious distinction of being one of the most corrupt states in entire subcontinent. Although successive governments have all along made many boastful claims of weeding out corruption, but thus far, practically speaking, nothing much has been done in this direction. So the only inference one could deduce is that the governments themselves have not really been serious in their so-called fight against corruption. No wonder then that the corruption has been institutionalized here over the years under the visibly overt patronage of the political executive.

No anti-corruption initiative is going to sustain for long leave aside it bearing fruit unless and until the higher echelons of politics and bureaucracy too are cleaned up. Success of any anti-corruption drive, as the common sense suggests, is embedded in its top-down orientation. Transparency and accountability have to percolate from top towards the bottom of the political and official hierarchy. One could expect the lower-rung politics and bureaucracy to be clean only if honesty is conspicuous at the top. But as of now, as the countless incidents involving senior government functionaries suggest, the scenario at the top of the hierarchical ladder is far from being hopeful or encouraging. It is also essential that the resolve of weeding out corrupt is not confined to the lower-rung officialdom alone. Today the State of Jammu and Kashmir is in dire need of examples and role-models. Honesty and sincerity has not been able to provide us same. So why not make an example out of those who are available in abundance --  the corrupt and the crooked! Once a few big sharks of corruption from both politics and senior bureaucracy are caught and meted out the kind of punishments as deserved by their misdeeds, it would automatically make them into examples others could draw necessary inferences and learn important lessons from.

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