Darbar Move- Legacy or Liability

Sunil Seth
The ‘DARBAR MOVE’ was started by the then Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1872 to escape the extreme heat during summers in Jammu and biting cold of winters in Srinagar. Probably, it was also to facilitate the common man from feeling the brunt of travelling from one place to the other because of the tough terrain and poorly developed road network along with the strain of the finances involved in boarding and lodging .
Voices have been raised occasionally over the years against this century-old-practice which involves heavy funding which could have been justified in the Bye Gone Era because of the reasons reflected above. ‘INTERNET’ was not a thing to dream of in those days. However, the only time the practice was stopped was in 1987, when Dr. Farooq Abdullah was the Chief Minister but was soon withdrawn. However, a committee was formed, led by Ex-Chief Secretary, Sheikh Ghulam Rasool, with Mohd. Shafi Pandit and Sushma Chaudhary as members to look into the ways to end the practice which probably now can take the back seat with the changing working environments ;environments , here I mean is the ‘DIGITISING’ of the records in the wake of dawning of the ‘INTERNET’; paving the way for reviewing the age old practice of ‘DARBAR MOVE’. Much hype was created to digitize the records post 2014 floods in Kashmir which again faded away within the few months. Necessity of digitization of record was also felt following devastating fire in a portion of Civil Secretariat at Srinagar in the month of July 2017 in which the official record of many departments and ‘Service Record’ of many employees suffered extensive damage. Many Governments made announcements in this regard but was never translated into reality. Applauding news was it when ‘ The Daily Excelsior’ dated 18th day of January, 2019 narrated that the Government begins the exercise to digitize official record of the departments in Civil Secretariat through J&KeGA allocating 5 cr for digitization and 15 cr for the infrastructure needed for it. The process of Digitization of the records can be completed in the shortest possible time, which is not a herculean task, by outsourcing the task to any good company operating at the ‘National or International’ level, at whatever cost they ask for because no cost can be dearer than the loss of the generated valuable information and data every now and then because of one reason or the other . Consequent upon the completion of the process of ‘DIGITIZATION’ comes into question the ritual of the shifting of ‘DARBAR MOVE’ which could have relevance during the days when the ‘INTERNET, VIDEO CONFERENCING AND DIGITALIZATION’ were a distant dream but now is a futile exercise putting unnecessary burden on the government exchequer. Now, when the world is thinking of developing settlements on the Moon and the information can be flashed from one corner to the other with the click of a button and that too without the physical movement of MEN and MACHINES; the age old legacy is still continuing . Crores of rupees are being spent annually on transporting thousands of officials and official records in the times of ‘VIRTUAL CONFERENCING’ and ‘INTERNET’ revolution. The physical movement of persons can be replaced by ‘VIDEO CONFERENCING’ and that of the data by ‘DIGITIZATION’ of the records and the efforts for which stand already initiated. If such a mechanism can be used for one’s personal use ; then why not at work place.
‘Huge Loss’ to the exchequer to the tune of crores because of the recurring expenditures being incurred twice every year in the process of the shifting of the seat of ‘Governance’ in the name of ‘DARBAR MOVE’ should be avoided in the already ‘CASH STRUCK STATE’, begging for the financial help for its sustenance every now and then. Resources being eroded in ‘DUPLICATION’ of facilities viz ‘ELECRICITY,WATER ‘and many more to name a few. Ahead of ‘DARBAR MOVE’, the areas usually receive a facelift every year. There arises the need of maintaining the infrastructure associated at the summer capital and winter capital separately. One time ‘Allowance’, too, ever rising with every passing year being given to the employees in addition to the above reflected expenditures. Travelling Allowances being given during the working period add to the burden too. Adding to the miseries is another point which needs to be given a due consideration and it is that a common man needs to shell out money from his pocket for travel and stay at these stations during his visits in connection with his work with Secretariat, whereas the officials are being accommodated on the ‘ Government Exchequer’ which is also a contribution from the pockets of the ‘Tax Payer’ i.e. the public.’Austerity Measures’ ensured in other fields can too be coupled with denouncement of ‘DARBAR MOVE’ which will work for both the ‘Staff in Move’ as well as the ‘Common Masses’, running from one place to other. Even today one has to travel hundreds of kilometers, sometimes, to get his work done makes one feel as if we are still looming in the era of ‘ADAM and EVE’. The Concept of World being a ‘GLOBAL VILLAGE’ has no meaning for this State erstwhile aspiring for the ‘SMART CITY’ status for twin cities viz: Jammu and Kashmir. Another aspect needs to be touched beyond the loss to the exchequer is that the concept of DURBAR MOVE is contrary to the concept of much talked ‘SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT’ where in development has to be in line with minimum disturbance to the ‘NATURE’.
Duplication of resources at these two places as enunciated above with undesired movement from one place to other of the ‘FLOATING’ population coupled with high consumption of fuel leading to higher levels of pollution can all be done away with. Widening of roads along the hilly terrain has made the slopes unstable resulting into prevalence of slides. Disturbance to the nature can be limited to some extent by minimizing the movement of the floating population.’ HARD CORE’ planning where in the departments relevant to Jammu be kept at Jammu and the ones relevant to Kashmir be kept at Kashmir keeping in view the diametrically opposite climatic conditions ; cultures and needs too. ‘DIGITISATION’ of the records will automatically eliminate the need of ‘DARBAR MOVE’.’AUSTERITY’ is what can be tried at its best in eliminating the practice of ‘DARBAR MOVE’.
If ever the need arises, only the High Officials may move which too can be minimized with the concept of ‘VIDEO CONFERENCING’ and the ‘SUBORDINATE’ staff be kept stationed at their respective places. Menace of the transfer of staff between these two places will also come to an end. ‘POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD and PASSPORT OFFICE’ has already achieved this feat where every file movement is being tracked on ‘COMPUTERS’, thereby eliminating the physical movement of ‘MAN POWER’ at many levels. High powered committee shall be entrusted with the responsibility to come out with the plan conducive to both the region. The only thing required now is a due ‘DILLIGENCE’ and an ‘EDUCATIVE’ approach, supplemented with ‘QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMMES’ that too at our own places. Ordering food on ‘SWIGGY’ and ‘ZOMATO’; utilities on ‘MYNTRA, JABONG’; managing travel on ‘MAKE my TRIP’; depending on ‘INTERNET’ for any and every need of ours then why not a move which can do away with the ‘NOMADIC’ move like that of ‘DARBAR MOVE’ in the present ‘TECH WORLD’. Even an illiterate person is using internet now a days and the employees are all well educated and have smart phones handy by their side. Using internet has become the way of their life. The ‘FATHER’ being head of the family always keeps thinking to be judicious in managing the resources for balanced development of his family. Then, why, can not the same approach be followed by the ‘HEAD OF THE STATE’ in reviewing this outdated approach and do away with this unnecessary evil, destroying the ‘NATURE’ by way of ‘DUPLICATION’ of utilities thereby draining the ‘EXCHEQUER’ too which otherwise can be used for the betterment of the ‘PUBLIC’ at large. DARBAR MOVE: the ‘LEGACY’ it was and the ‘LIABILITY’ it is in the times when the world is heading towards the concept of ‘WORK from HOME’. ‘CHANGE’ is thy name of ‘EVOLUTION’ in real sense for a ‘MAN’ to be really ‘EVOLVED’- a quality not expected from ‘ANIMALS’ It will be a step forward too for these two regions to be really smart to be categorized as ‘SMART CITIES’.