The Governor of J&K is usually considered as a symbol of Delhi’s machinations and therefore people never identify with the Raj Bhawan seeing it just an extension of New Delhi. But the incumbent Governor, Satya Pal Malik, has belied these notions and made his office accessible to ordinary Kashmiris. The Governor has proved that every issue has a resolution subject those at the helm of governance take seriously.
As soon as he took over, Governor Satya Pal Malik identified the menace of corruption as one of the major causes of the troubles that J&K is face-to-face with. He gave his nod for setting up the first-ever Anti-Corruption Bureau in the State to tackle and eradicate corruption in a “more effective and meaningful manner”.
Second remarkable thing he did was to take the democracy and governance to grass roots. On this direction, elections to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil were held. The state administrative council headed by Malik also approved the draft Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The amendment gives councils more power to collect and levy taxes and control various government departments in districts. Besides, all public properties constructed with council fund shall now onwards belong to the councils.
Similarly, the elections to Urban Local Bodies (ULB) and Panchayats, which were long over-due but for the fear of losing their power and privilege locally elected public representatives, the successive elected governments were in no mood to conduct these elections. Invoking security concerns, they had been delaying these elections for over a decade. But the Governor’s administration did not only ensured free and fair conduct of these elections but also ensured that there is no violence to intimidate contestants and voters. Today both Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats are in place throughout the state – belying the concerns expressed by the elected regimes.
Despite security threats, Amarnath Yatra 2018 was also conducted peacefully, and, in fact, this year around 2,50,000 more pilgrims had Darshan at the Cave shrine than the ones that visited here during the preceding year when Yatra bus was targeted by militants at Batengo Anantnag in which some 7 yatris were killed and 15 were injured.
In the education sector, the Governor administration has taken decisions that will go a long way in putting the sector back on tracks. Over the years, School Education department has been facing immense difficulties due to multiple cadres of teachers, requirement of additional funds to meet out salary of both SSA and RMSA teaching faculty and a host of other related issues, which were directly or indirectly impacting upon the quality of education in government-run schools and leading to avoidable chaos and confusion among the teaching fraternity. Needless to say that ReT, SSA, and RMSA teachers would regularly hit streets to protest against lack of regular and timely salaries besides demanding their regularization.
On Dec 09, 2018, the State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by the Governor Satya Pal Malik initiated measures for regularization of SSA, ReT teachers, by creating 28,363 posts of teachers.
These posts shall be filled up 100 percent by selection out of regularized Rehbar-e-Taleem Teachers (RReTs) with qualification of a graduate degree from any recognized university.
This cadre of teachers was created exclusively for the purpose of adjusting RReTs and will gradually get extinguished/abolished over a period of time, officials said.
The decision will enable streamlining the cadre of ReTs by transitioning them in the regular cadre of teachers and meeting the salary deficit of SSA and RMSA teachers, which is over Rs 1,400 crore per annum, out of the State budget. Thus all teachers will henceforth get regular monthly salary on time consequent to the assimilation of various cadres of teachers into one regular teaching cadre.
A University Teacher Syed Feroz said “we have never been satisfied with the popularly elected governments when it comes to deliverance. There is nepotism and a pick-and-choose policy. But this governor goes by merit. The work he did in just 7 months would have taken an elected government years.”
The ailing health sector of J&K also got immediate attention of the Governor. Jammu and Kashmir has been facing acute shortage of doctors both in the city and towns as well as in the countryside. Despite jobs being available, nothing much was done by the previous government to fill in the vacant posts.
After taking over, Governor Malik initiated measures for fast-tracking the recruitment of 1000 vacant posts of medical officers in the Health and Medical Education department. Last week only the recruitment orders were issued to ensure the selected doctors join their places of posting at the earliest.
As far as, anti–militancy operations are concerned, some of the big names in militancy were neutralized be it Dr Manan Wani, Altaf Kachroo, Naveed Jutt, Mehraj ud din Bangroo Azad Malik and Zeenat-ul islam.
Intelligence reports suggest that there is a drastic decrease in the number of local youths joining militancy than what it used to be during BJP-PDP rule. Also, intensity of ‘Law and Order’ problems has decreased and there is a remarkable decrease in stone pelting incidents which were an everyday phenomenon during Mehbooba Mufti led government.
Similarly, Public Grievance protests (protests related to electricity, water, depilated roads et al) have been reduced to 187 from 485.
Instead of just parroting that they will provide caring and responsive and transparent governance – an exclusive forte of the elected governments – the incumbent Governor’s administration is leading through example.
A cursory look on the conflict situations elsewhere in the world explicitly makes it clear that reforms in the government are a vital element that needs serious implementation. A massive reform process is needed at more or less all levels of the government edifice. It needs people of great integrity and public stature to lead from the front, and to attract and coerce others to follow. As of now this is what Governor Satya Pal Malik seems to be doing.