A roadmap of Kashmir’s economic development will require positive change in the mindset
The provision of special status under Article 35A and Article 370 was abrogated by the central government on 5th august 2019. With that, the state of Jammu & Kashmir was bifurcated into two Union territories i.e. Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. Leh and Ladakh always believed that they got a step-motherly treatment by J&K administration and the struggle of peoples of Laddakh has culminated into the UT recognition after 70 years. Such has been apathy towards the Ladakh region that it has just one hospital located in Leh. Prime Minster Modi completed the dream of Jan Sangh Senior leader Late Shyama Prasad Mukherjee who famously said “Ek Desh Mein Do Vidhan, Do Nishan, Do Pradhan, Nahin Chalenge”. The move was overwhelmingly supported from every nook and corner of the country.
For several decades, Jammu & Kashmir remained as the hot bed for terrorist and separatist forces. The state of Jammu & Kashmir under the leadership of Sheikh Abdulla worked hand in gloves with mainstream political leaders for funding militancy* and this leads to a continuous decrease in voter turnout ratio in elections since the 1980s. Over the last years, the mobilisation of stone pelters has drastically reduced due to control of the flow of finances as per business standard **. The control of finances has led to a decrease in the recruitment of stone-throwers and local terrorists. The abrogation of the article will improve some transformational development in the valley.
Many changes took place after the abrogation of Article 370. The Indian government has started issuing domicile certificate to the people to prove the actual residentship of the state. The government is also planning to give reservation to Economic weaker sections and Valley (Pahari) people, construction of houses and government Jobs are now created for Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus). The administration seems determined to connect Kashmir to the rest of India and many big projects have been initiated like, building of world’s highest river bridge over Chenab River which is expected to complete by 2022. Many other investment projects like irrigation project and electricity project are done by the government and this is hoped to provide jobs to Kashmiri. The government is also planning to launch many schemes and services that are availed by the rest of India.
Many Indian and international media has been cherry picking issues focusing on the Kashmir issues like shut down of internet and have been vocal about information of sponsored violence by the separatist. What they fail to report though is the recent attacks on several BJP workers who were killed by militants and no objection was offered out by any mainstream media. The long term benefits of economic and human development in Kashmir was also not raised by any political actor. The abrogation of the article gives a psychological reassurance in the mind of business and businessmen but still, fears prevail. No investor can express their strong views about the business plan, but big investor like Reliance has promised to invest in the valley and this has given strength to other investors as well. After the abrogation of Article, there is a decline in the terror activities but there are many parts of the valley which has already suffered heavy losses and still, Kashmir is a remote land for industrialist and businessmen as there are no jobs created so far.
Apart from all these, many development plans are expected to boost Kashmir. There is strong policy which needs to integrate Kashmir with rest of India for the welfare of common Kashmiri people coming from all the sections of the society. A roadmap of Kashmir’s economic development will require positive change in the mindset. The early development should focus on necessary services like roads, schools, security, health facility, job creation and tourism after which investment opportunities, government services, and other administrative services should be opened.
Hindus who were driven out of the valley in 90’s are looking forward to coming back to their ancestors land but militancy is still a major problem in some part of the valley. A strong action is needed to operate Anti-terror actions across the valley because militancy has destroyed heaven for many decades. Further, it will be a challenging task for the government to bring investment opportunities and interstate migration with full-fledged network and electricity services and assurance of security to every section of the society. The govt. has clarified that 4G network will be restored soon in the valley. The coming years will be difficult but ‘Rome was not built in a day’. It takes time to bring back the dignity of every Native Kashmiris Pandit (Hindus).
The special status had filled the pockets of political actor of J&K as the state receives 10% of central govt. grant with only 1% of population and UP receives 8% of central grants with 13% of Indian population between 2006-2016. These mainstream political actors of Kashmir choked environment of human rights. They further created a major barrier to not give space to any developmental projects over 70 years. Presently, COVID Pandemic has stopped the development works in Kashmir but many residents of Kashmir are benefitted under ‘Pradhanmantri Gareeb Kalyan Ann Yojna’ and Direct Bank Transfer (DBT). There was a strong message given by Honourable PM of India after abrogation of Article 370 that he said Article 370 was temporary and must to be stopped and this was also told by Former PM of India Jawahar lal Nehru that “ye ghiste ghiste ghish jayegi”(special status under article 370 would end with time). People of Kashmir needs some patience and support the administration towards beautiful heaven. So, there is a hope of many transformational and tourism changes occurred in Kashmir in the upcoming years.
(Author is an Intern with Academics4Nation. He is also a PhD Research Scholar, Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Bihar.)