Clear headed statesmanship

Chief Minister’s summation of current security and administrative scenario in the state reflected in his address to the annual meeting of chief ministers on internal security in New Delhi entitles him to the ranks of indisputable statesmanship. One cannot imagine a better and more eloquent defence of his government’s views and actions during 2011. The effortless impression one gathers from his presentation is that he is in full control of things and is amazingly clear-headed about the principles and policy of his government, particularly on some of the issues that are baffling, complicated and sensitive. Omar Abdullah’s presentation has to be understood and analyzed in the background of more than two decades of externally abetted militancy and turmoil in the State. The State administration had virtually come to a grinding halt because of deep confusion and chaos which the adversaries and enemies of the people of the State had succeeded to create. Alienation of the people was viciously trumpeted, chance incidents of violation of human rights were blown out of proportion, canards were spread and security forces were demonized. Disinformation campaign was carried to international media and world platforms to paint India and State government in darkest possible colour. One can imagine the hurdles in the path of the elected coalition government if it meant to steer the ship of the State through turbulent storms.
The task of the Chief Minister was made more difficult by some intransigent elements working under negative emotions and impulses that led to disturbances in the State for two consecutive summers. But the young chief minister did not lose his cool and faced all these challenges whether on the ground or on public platform or on the floor of the legislative assembly counter-arguing, challenging and disarming the opposition at every step. He had to deal with a populace that had been misled and confused; he had to deal with administrative machinery some of whose clogs and nut and bolts had collected rust, and he had to deal with an opposition that often defied the fundamental principles of parliamentary opposition and behaved almost opportunistically. In trying to impress upon the stakeholders his vision of current and near future scenario of the State, he had to face a mood of reservation and apprehension. His insistence on withdrawing AFSPA from those areas where militancy has maximally come down and security forces have had not to get engaged in serious encounters with militants is in no way any aspersion on the armed forces rather he has lauded their contribution in curbing militancy. The fact is that the Chief Minister has to restore confidence of the masses of people in the efficacy of the civilian administration and remove all obstructions in the way of flow of justice and good governance. After all, sooner or later, the armed forces have to be withdrawn to barracks, and who is a better judge than the chief minister to decide whether their presence in the deployed areas should continue or not. In any case, the views of the Chief Minister on this issue are getting crystallized and there is serious thinking at the level of Home Ministry and other places of allowing the Chief Minister’s views to prevail. His point of view gets reinforced when in the hindsight we reassess the reaction of the people of the State to government’s initiative of holding panchayat elections successfully. Elections to urban rural bodies will follow and then to bloc and district level boards. This is the right process of bringing democratic dispensation to the grassroots level in the State. Therefore when at higher levels the question of withdrawal of Disturbed Areas Act from some of the districts with reduced or minimized militancy is taken up for discussion, the holding of successful panchayat elections and democratization process should be taken into account.
The Chief Minister has agreed that divergence of views or approaches can be overcome through dialogue. This is an indirect message to the separatists and secessionists in the State to understand the changing winds and adapt to the new ground reality in the region. Pakistan is no more in a position to provide its traditional “diplomatic, political and moral support” to militancy in Kashmir because its own survival is now hanging in balance. Those who claim to be fighting for the “aazadi” of Kashmiris have been exposed fully. One of them is languishing in a jail in the US. The separatists in Kashmir need to open their eyes and stop fantasying. Jammu and Kashmir is on the threshold of a big leap for development and progress. It needs peace to allow mega projects to reach completion and change the destiny of millions of people. Railway link, industrial expansion, opening of higher institutions of excellence, impact of democratic dispensation, all emanate clear and loud signals that the new era of modernity is about to usher in the State.
Discounting PPP mode
Union Health Minister has turned down the proposal of the State government to run six hospitals of the State in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode for the simple reason that doing so would mean putting economically weaker sections of people to great financial hardship. The State government’s plea is those six hospitals, three in Jammu and three in Kashmir, are not running in a manner in which these should run, and hence should be given in PPP mode with free treatment to 25 % patients BPL. The fact is that ours is a backward and hilly state and a large percentage of population cannot afford the heavy cost on medical treatment in private hospitals. Experience has shown that patients from poorer segments receive scant attention in the hospitals because they are not in a position to pay for expensive medical services. The State government needs to reconsider its proposal and also keep in mind the limited financial capability of weaker sections of society in taking care of their health services. Almost everywhere governments provide medical services on subsidized financial implications. It is a requirement of a welfare state. The State government would better find a solution to the issue rather than shies away from it by believing that private sector will bale it out. The bailing out game, if at all it happens will assuredly be at the cost of the toiling masses only.


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