Life is threatening to come to a halt in J&K amid the ever-thickening mist of fear caused by the pandemic that has exposed all the systemic failures in the past few months.
This has added to the challenges that Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had listed before him at the time of assuming office on August 7. All other challenges of fostering a connect with the alienated people and giving a fillip to development dwarf before the task of ending corruption in the Union Territory.
As if there was a dearth of problems in J&K when he stepped on to the soil of Kashmir to take charge of his new assignment last month, one after another layer of corruption that has rendered the system hollow is becoming visible.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi assigned J&K to Sinha to turn around the situation through development and outreach to the people. J&K is the most difficult place in the country to govern.
Sinha is making his own assessment of the situation – visiting people, hearing them out, inviting suggestions and responding in the “best possible manner”, as he put it. But living up to expectations of the long sufferers of misgovernance increases his responsibility manifold. He knows it very well.
Let me be blunt, J&K today is gripped with the fear deadlier than the pandemic that is consuming lives. This fear has capped other fears that have been moving along the life of people for many years now.
When children start dying due to the lack of oxygen in hospitals, this is a systemic failure of Himalayan proportions Denials make the problem worse. The presentation of exaggerated figures about the equipment and availability of the life-saving support system for Covid patients is a travesty of facts. This type of cover-up is playing with the lives of the people who are watching helplessly the rising toll of coronavirus deaths.
Putting a halt to the rising number of the virus cases and eradicating the corruption in the system will make a strong statement, about which the nation cares. Sinha is in his current position only for a month now, and he cannot, and should not be expected to undo all the wrongs of decades overnight. He has started on a promising note, but the real success will greet him only if he is able to put curtains down on all these fears.
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