Darbar move in Digital era

Jammu and Kashmir is a unique state not only because of use of pellets on humans or blocking internet day in and day out for security concerns but also that, in this informative superhighway age the fashion of Darbar move i.e. shifting of secretariat and other government offices from one capital to another exists in this part of world only. This is a unique process to keep bureaucrats, MLAs, MPs and other government officials warm during winters and cooler during harsh summers. Darbar Move was started during Dogra rule in 1872 by Maharaja Ranbir Singh to connect Jammu and Kashmir through a royal practice. Nowadays this practice seems as wastage of time and money besides giving tough time to commoners.

The cumbersome tradition which involves shifting of entire administrative machinery between the two state capitals dents economy of our state. According to estimates about 100 crore rupees are spent on this practice annually which is nothing but only a burden on exchequer. 15000 rupees are paid to every employee as travel allowance. More than 2000 rooms are booked for their accommodation. The practice of Darbar move not only makes a common man suffer but also results in the loss of many precious working days. From the state chief secretary to a clerk, the bureaucracy finds an excuse to avoid resolution of people’s grievances by passing the buck under the garb of Darbar move. It takes 15 days to reopen the Darbar at either of the two capitals, thus 30 working days are lost every year. How can our ministers and government officials are different from their counterparts working elsewhere in the subcontinent?

The practice involves loading hundreds of trucks with official documents and equipments and transporting same along 300 KM national highway which causes traffic misers to thousands of passengers travelling on the highway and many times become cause to severe accidents.
When Darbar moves, administration disappear leaving people high and dry. During summers jammuiates suffer while during winters Kashmiris suffer. The plight of the story is when heavy snowfall in Kashmir throws life out of gear and renders shortage of essential amenities with the freezing and bursting of water pipes, those in power remain already out to bask and enjoy the sunshine in Jammu. Similarly when the people of Jammu face scorching heat coupled with shortage of water and other basic amenities, authorities continue enjoying Mughal gardens in Kashmir.

One wonders, how can this mundane practice is justified in a state where; unemployed youth are more than 10 lakh in numbers and 11 percent BPL still exist, , where PhDs are working as contractual employees, and where youths are getting alienated every passing day. The practice of keeping administration away during winters in Kashmir, and during summers in Jammu is swallowing our economy and is sheer injustice to the people at large. The purpose of any administration is to come closer to the people to address their issues and grievances and not moving away from them through royal escapes of history.

The focus of attention on the part of government should be upgrading Mughal Road and Kishtiwar –Daksum Road to minimise the travel between Kashmir, Chenab and Jammu region. Bad weather cannot be a justification for obsolete Darbar Move tradition. One may ask, if Shimla can be the only capital city of Himachal Pradesh, why not Srinagar for J&K. Moscow is world’s third coldest capital city, where temperature goes below minus 10, whereas average temperature of Srinagar in winters is around 5 degree Celsius. Every citizen of J &K must come forward leaving the regional feelings to put pressure on government to stop this royal practice. In this era of super technology which has made world a global village, amidst the pitches of Digital India and E governance, any justification for Darbar move is nothing but a sham exercise motivated by some self centered politicians and bureaucrats.

Tariq Rasool Ahanger

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