In imitation of public durbars of Mughal Emperors of India, our ministers and elected representatives are holding public durbars on specific days of the weak in a bid to be always connected with the masses of people. Democracy is the Government of the people, by the people and for the people. Our elected leaders want to be true to the axiom and have begun the custom of holding public durbars. Our ministers and members of the two houses of the Assembly being the elected representatives of the people believe that these durbars keep them in touch with the people and the problems that face them collectively or individually. In principle this is the correct position and people do want such interactions.
However, the most disappointing feature of these grievance durbars is their futility since only a handful of complaints out of a plethora of them are attended and disposed of by concerned authorities. People come in large numbers to these grievance camps in the hope that they would be able to place their grievance before the VIP and seek redress from him. Unfortunately, their hopes are seldom fulfilled because; at the end of the day, they find that these durbars are meant more to publicize the event than to redress the grievance. When the durbar is announced, a battery of photographers and media men swarm the campus and take photograph of the VIP shaking hands or exchanging a smile or two with a few people among the audience and then showing crowds of people gathered on the occasion. This is all propaganda blitzkrieg to project the VIP which ensures his popularity and the favour of higher echelons of party leadership. Holding of public durbars has become a farcical exercise. At each durbar, thousands of complaints of varying nature are submitted to the authority and thee are passed on to the Grievance Cell in the office of the Chief Minster. From here these petitions travel to the offices of the Secretary or Commissioner of the concerned department and then these safely land in the dust bin.
Why does the system fail to deliver justice? There are many reasons. The population of the State/county, constraints of resources, inefficiency and incompetence of Government functionaries at lower rungs, adherence to the culture of sloth and lethargy, lack of patriotism and finally entrenched corruption in the system are some of the significant reasons. Despite seventy years of democracy and popular Government, our administrators have yet to learn that they are foremost servants of the people. The chasm between the ordinary people and the administrative structure is wide and has not been bridged so far. Additionally, our people though mostly literate are still at a level of knowledge which confines them only to local issues not national and international ones. We expect that common wisdom will prevail and masses of people will know who can be their best representative who will plead for their case in the parliament or the assembly.
In a written reply the Minister In charge of General Administration Department to the question of BJP MLA said that File Tracking System in all departments, which was initiated by the Information Technology Department, could not yield the desired results and in order to have an efficient office file management system in place, the Web based File Tracking System (WFTS) was identified and implemented by the IT Department through J&K e-Governance Agency. He claimed that employees were getting familiar and acquainted with this system and the process was gaining momentum.
Barely 37 per cent of total public representations are disposed of fully or partially and 63 per cent of them ultimately find their way to the official dustbin. What expectations can people have with this sordid affair? What justice can they expect and get, is a big question. During the past two years, a total of 6261 public grievances were brought to the notice of the PDP-BJP Ministers by the common masses either by paying visits to their offices/ residences or during the camps conducted by the Ministers in different parts of the State especially in their respective constituencies. Only 2298 (37%) have been disposed of although it is claimed that grievances as and when received are forwarded to the concerned quarters for redress in a time bound manner. If there is a mechanism of ensuring redress of grievances in coordination with Nodal Officers appointed by the departments then why such a large number of grievances remained pending for disposal has not been reflected in the reply. The Government will have to streamline the system of public grievance hearing and disposing of applications. Either grievances have to be removed or the cheap practice of ministers holding public durbars should stop because these are proving futile from the statistics that have been revealed in the Legislative Assembly.