Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, Nadaan sighed. His concern, the centre indebted finances of Jammu and Kashmir and his position, the man at the helm of the affairs in the finance department. An international news agency, located somewhere in Washington D.C., deputed an ‘undercover reporter’ to interview Nadaan and record his views for being incorporated in a book being written by a Kashmir expert who has been residing in New York since the year 1947.
The expert has never visited Kashmir yet he is most sought out person when it comes to framing a policy on Kashmir in America. The ‘undercover reporter’ was received with warmth and hospitality. From the entrance of “Civil secretariat shopping mall” to the finance minister’s private chamber, he received a hero’s welcome. A local journalist who had been standing at the entrance requesting authorities to let him in did lodge protest for the 60 years of discrimination being meted out to locals.
“Yeh mehmaan hai. Tum yahein kye hoo. Tum 24 hours shak kye diarey mein hoo who nahin. Samjhey. Ab Chup chap khadey raho,” the security personnel at the gate advised him. He rang up Nadaan but to no avail. After customary hospitality, ‘undercover reporter’ while informing Nadaan that he had brought a polygraph test machine with him, urged Nadaan not to lie about the finances of the state.
“I have been informed at New Delhi that J&K ministers lie unashamedly. Please bear with me,” the reported requested. Nadaan pledged while giving the interview. The interview is reproduced here for those of you who are demanding everything under the sun from the finance minister especially the employees who are the backbone of the administration.
UR: How would you like to describe the finances of Jammu and Kashmir?
Nadaan:Indebted to the government of India and common man of Jammu and Kashmir.
UR: Why indebted to the government of India?
Nadaan: Political maturity of our leadership coupled with sensible utilization of the hydroelectric potential of the state has never allowed the state to become self-sufficient. Moreover, we have developed a sense of dependence on the centre and do understand that our nationalistic credentials would become suspect once we achieve self-sufficiency.
UR: Please clarify
Nadaan: We have an army of unemployed engineers but they are incompetent. Hence, all our hydroelectric projects which could become the basis of self-reliance have been handed over to NHPC whose competent and well-trained engineers complete these projects within 20 to 40 years at a cost which is thirty times higher than the original cost of the project.
UR: You were supposed to get back your projects from the central government. What about that?
Nadaan: We do not have enough money in the state exchequer to get back the projects. We have prepared a roadmap for begging one of the projects back from the centre. They have agreed to return us this project.
UR: Good. Which is the project?
Nadaan: That is yet to come up. Once we get it back, we would engage Rehbar’s for it who would be given a fixed emolument of Rs.1500 once in a year and that too, when they would come on the streets for the same.
UR: Please, explain to me what is this Rehbar thing?
Nadaan: Those young people who are ready to do modern day Begaar are called Rehber. They are also referred to as Die-hard Naukri seekers.
UR: What is the status of industries in Jammu and Kashmir?
Nadaan: Industrialization has speeded-up. Even you can put up a unit here, reap benefits of free electricity, water, subsidy and after earning hefty profits, show the unit as running in losses and rush back home with crores in your pocket. The government would facilitate you both in opening the unit and later, in winding it up.
UR: OK sir; tell me why employees are protesting. I saw them being beaten by Uniformed personnel.
Nadaan: They are being penalized for not learning work discipline from the Minister and legislators. These employees are seeking the removal of pay anomalies and higher salaries for the 6 hours which they spend in the offices. How can we pay them higher salaries when we have dismal revenue position?
UR: What about the Rs.2400 crore special package?
Nadaan: That has been spent in giving salaries to the employees of the state.
UR: But I am told, you increased salaries of MLAs, MLCs, Ministers and Babus in one go. Then why are you showing reluctance in doing the same for employees?
Nadaan: Our MLAs, MLCs, Ministers and Babus work overtime. They even spend nights in the service of the common man. More than 100 MLAs, MLCs, Ministers and Babus are roaming world over for the selfless services rendered by them to the people of the state. A few have been awarded by courts, others by CBI, vigilance and crime branch.
A few have even managed to get international recognition for Jammu and Kashmir for their yeoman day and night services rendered to the people of the state. So, don’t think it would have been penalizing, if we would not have increased their salaries.
The reporter was ready to ask the next question when Nadaan stopped him, informing him about his inability to continue with the interview since he had to present the annual budget. ‘Undercover Reporter” asked Nadaan the last question.
UR: What is the future roadmap?
Nadaan: It is to be decided by New Delhi. We simply execute orders issued by New Delhi.