Two years of Manoj Sinha as J&K’s Lt Guv
Governance, development became the catchword
Manoj Sinha took over as the second lieutenant governor of the newly formed union territory of Jammu and Kashmir on 7 August 2020. Two years have already passed since his take over and at ground level people at large are witnessing some positive changes in their day to day life
Manoj Sinha has been a senior BJP leader in Uttar Pradesh and is the first political leader to hold the post of LG of union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Manoj Sinha was preceded in August 2019 by a former IAS officer, Girish Chandra Marmu, who was appointed the first Lt. Governor of the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir .
Manoj Sinha was born on 1 July 1959 in Mohanpura, Ghazipur District, Uttar Pradesh. He is a Post Graduate (M.Tech) in Civil Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University), Varanasi. During that time, he became an active member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the youth wing of the BJP. In the year 1982, Manoj Sinha was elected as the President of Banaras Hindu University Students’ Union. He became a member of the BJP National Council in the year 1989 and remained its member till 1996. He became a part of active politics when he was elected to the Lok Sabha in the year 1996. After that he was elected for a second term in 1999 and for third term in 2014 from the Ghazipur constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
He was inducted in the Modi Cabinet as Minister of State for Railways in the year 2014. In July 2016, after a cabinet reshuffle, he was shifted to the Ministry of Communications as Minister of State (independent charge). A leading magazine listed him as one of the Seven Honest Members of Parliament.
He is a quiet person and maintains a low profile. He has set an example for others by using his entire MPLAD fund for the welfare of the people of Ghazipur constituency (from where he was elected to the Lok Sabha). He came to be known as ‘Vikas Pursh’ (leader involved in development) for his active participation in working for the upliftment of backward villages.
Why Center chose Sinha as J&K LG?
For the former Banaras Hindu University student leader and Indian Institute of Technology alumnus, what made him Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first choice for Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir was his clean image in politics? Earlier in 2017, he was the frontrunner for the post of Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh after the party won 265 seats in the 403-member assembly, but the party high command eventually fielded Yogi Adityanath for the post. Despite this sudden decision, Manoj Sinha never complained and many believe that his attitude towards the party high command helped him to win the trust of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. A clean image and political experience played a key role in appointing Mr. Sinha as the LG of Jammu and Kashmir.
Before Manoj Sinha took over as the second lieutenant governor of the newly formed union territory of Jammu and Kashmir on August 7, 2020, in June 2020, during the tenure of the then LG, the Jammu and Kashmir government had created a scheme to directly reach out to the rural people, by the name of “Back To Village “.
The scheme has four main objectives: Mobilization of Panchayats, gathering feedback on the delivery of government schemes and programmes, achieving specific economic potential and assessing the needs in the villages. After the Panchayat level elections, it became necessary to take steps to provide basic needs to 70% of the population living in the villages by providing an opportunity to the public representatives to work for the development of their area.
Manoj Sinha took over the reins of the administration and started taking steps to advance this program on a priority basis. Under this programme, the administrative machinery of the state government was asked to visit 4,483 panchayat circles to seek feedback from the common people at the grassroots level and till date there has been three such programmes and the fourth such program is expected to take place soon.
Under this programme, the government has appointed a gazetted officer in each panchayat circle as a nodal officer, who interacts with the panchayat members, general public and communicates the benefits of various government schemes in the panchayat circles to the public and have a firsthand information about the steps taken to deliver them in a better way.
The objective of this program is mainly to strengthen development efforts through community participation in rural areas and create a strong desire for a decent standard of living among the rural masses and this work is being done very positively so far. In these two years, although LG could not directly interact face to face with the people at large and especially with the rural people due to Covid restrictions, but through his radio program ‘Awam Ki Awaz’ he is constantly keeping a close contact with the general masses successfully.
Tourism is said to be the backbone of this place. Due to the adverse law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir, people almost forgot about this big industry. But in the last two years, there has been a significant increase in the number of tourists. Although this has not been confirmed by independent agencies, but the people here and people associated with this trade are confirming it themselves. So there is no need for any confirmation from anyone else.
In the tourism industry, Manoj Sinha should be credited for introducing border tourism. The last few years have seen growth in this sector. The government has facilitated travel to these areas besides making appropriate arrangements to involve the local people in the tourism sector. This initiative has particularly benefited the geographically disadvantaged sections and has successfully attempted to ensure employment opportunities in remote areas of the Union Territory.
In the education sector, the LG administration has approved 16 colleges for skill development within Jammu and Kashmir. This move is unprecedented for the fact that it is meant to ensure local facilities for students who are otherwise forced to move out of UT for the purpose.
For decades, the health sector in Jammu and Kashmir was in shambles. Lack of infrastructure, medical staff like doctors, nurses, etc. and equipment in this sector persisted for decades. Along with financial distress, Covid affected people very badly as far as their health is concerned.
Due to this epidemic, the health sector gained importance and all the attention of the government was focused on the health of the people. With the introduction of health cards by the government, the poorest people in Jammu and Kashmir have gained access to healthcare. Although the scheme is central in its origin, the Manoj Sinha-led administration must be credited for its implementation and management. Under his supervision, 10 beds per district were arranged in every panchayat level hospitals in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir. Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) was also roped in to establish two fully equipped hospitals, one in Srinagar and another in Jammu, to strengthen the emergency medical facilities to combat the epidemic.
For any assessment of governance, the economy is an important area to look at that changes life completely. Gross domestic product of Jammu and Kashmir has increased under the present dispensation. With the personal efforts of Manoj Sinha and the generosity of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jammu and Kashmir is now becoming a preferred destination for international investment.
Investors from many countries are looking to invest in Jammu and Kashmir and the government has already approved the investment of around Rs 40, 000 crores. Apart from this, the investors from across the country and the globe who are interested in investing about Rs 30 thousand crores are in constant contact with the government.
Foreign investment will not only provide employment to the youth here but will also provide them with knowledge of new sectors and very soon Jammu and Kashmir will move out of the tag of a “consumer region” and become a “production region”, thanks to which will be given to the present LG.
The former state of Jammu and Kashmir was ranked second in the country in terms of corruption. The current LG took such wise steps to erase this ugly stain that now even the biggest bureaucrat will think ten times before doing something wrong. The last governor of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Satya Pal Malik, had alleged that he was offered a bribe of Rs 300 crore to approve two files. Mr Sinha set a new precedence by recommending the probe of these allegations through CBI.
Similarly, the investigations into the ‘Roshni scandal’ and the “Gun License scandal” are also going on vigorously and many of the officers allegedly involved are facing enquiry. Recently, apart from the SI recruitments in the police, the recruitment process of junior engineers and accounts assistants has been declared null and void after an investigation, and the government officials and other relevant agencies who play with the future of the qualified and deserving youth are facing the music. The present government under the leadership of LG Manoj Sinha has vowed to make the life of these unscrupulous elements difficult.
Similarly, if we look at the work of the Anti-Corruption Bureau in the last few years, it can be said that under the supervision of Manoj Sinha, the department has caught many state officials red-handed when they were accepting bribes from the common people to get their work done.
The administration has activated complaint portals in all districts of Jammu and Kashmir which are working 24×7. These actions are sending a message to the people that there is no more room for corruption in Jammu and Kashmir and whoever is involved in it, no matter how big a chair he/she occupies, it is not possible for them to hoodwink the agencies. This is a great message for people who have suffered a lot during the last so many decades.
(The author is a regular contributor to ‘Kashmir Vision’)