Article 370 Not Good for J-K

Dr Ashwani Mahajan
Debate on Article 370 giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir has once again come to the fore after Narendra Modi-led NDA Government took the reign of power on May 26, 2014. Narendra Modi, while addressing an election rally in Jammu said that Article 370 is not in the best interest of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Not only Kashmiri Pandits who have been the victims of unilateral imposition of Article 370 having been driven out from Kashmir, rest of inhabitants of J and K also want to share development of rest of India and prosper. After Narendra Modi’s statement that he favours abrogation of Article 370, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah said that Jammu and Kashmir people should not vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party, because Modi will get Article 370 repealed. Now when 32.4 percent of state’s electorate (who voted) have voted for BJP, this is a mandate for abrogation of article 370 as well.
There are 29 States and 7 Union Territories in India today including recently formed Telangana. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state which has a special provision in the form of Article 370. History of Article 370 is that after independence, all the areas which were under kings or Nawabs, got merged with India; however due to adamant Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir, formal merger of Jammu and Kashmir was delayed. Delay-dallying by Maharaja led to delay in Indian army taking command of the situation, when Pakistani troops in the guise of Kabballis, captured a large area of Kashmir and King failed to stop them completely. Though ultimately Jammu and Kashmir became integral part of India in due course, the captured part of Jammu and Kashmir remained occupied by Pakistan, which is called POK. In the light of circumstances, the then Prime Minister wanted to add a special Article; however Ambedkar did not agree to the proposal. The task was then entrusted to Gopal Iyengar, who was also Prime Minister to the Maharaja of Kashmir. For this purpose, a special Section 306 A was added by Constituent Assembly, which later came to be called Article 370 in the final draft of the Constitution. But we must understand that, all the provisions of this Article are of a temporary nature (sub-section 3) and can be ended at any point of time.
Article 370 is bad for J&K
According to Article 370, state subjects of J&K have same rights as that of citizens residing in other parts of India; however citizens residing in other parts of India do not enjoy the same rights and cannot even purchase land in J&K. Today it is becoming increasingly possible to develop underdeveloped areas, thanks to free flow of capital and technology. Today, when even citizens of India, residing in other parts of India, can not purchase land and establish any industry; it is obviously not possible for people from other parts of globe, to come and invest in India. Therefore, Article 370 is actually coming in the way of development of J&K. Today youth of J&K is aspiring for development and integrate with rest of India. Kashmiris want development of infrastructure and industry. But this development is not possible unless J&K integrates with rest of the world.
Recently Jammu and Kashmir Government raised the maximum age limit for government jobs from 37 years to 40 years. This suggests that there are many youth who could not find a job even up to 40 years. Lack of development in the state has caused havoc for the youth in the state. It is true that today Kashmir valley houses the finest craftsmen of India, enjoying huge demand not only in India but also overseas. However obsolete technology is coming in way of improving the lives of these craftsmen. Today most of the requirements of J&K government are meted out by transfers from the centre. J and K’s own revenue does not suffice even it’s committed expenditure for its day today functioning. It has to depend upon Central Finance Commission and other central agencies to finance its expenditure. Jammu and Kashmir gets much more funds from the centre than other states. It is notable that in 2013-14, out of total revenue receipts of rupees 33970 crores, share of central transfers was rupees 24237 crores, that is 71.3 percent of total. However on all India basis we find that share of centre in total revenue receipts of the states is hardly 41.6 percent. If we look at the revenue transfers from Centre to states (including share in taxes and other transfers), per capita, it comes to 19,390 rupees per annum per capita, as compared to rupees 5124 at all India level.  Major reason for excessive dependence on the central transfers is the lack of development in the states, limiting the capacity of the state government to collect revenue. There is hardly any industrial development in the state. Result is lower incomes of the people of the state, at rupees 30, 335 per capita in 2012-13, at 2004-05 prices; whereas per capita income of the highest income state, namely Maharashtra was rupees 66066, higher than that of J&K by 2.2 times.
Today, there are visible obstacles of economic development of J&K. Lack of infrastructure and terrorism in the state is coming in the way of tapping the state’s tourist potentials. Because of lack of peace and existence of Article 370, flow of domestic and foreign investment and other resources are not forthcoming in the state. No Indian outside J and K can purchase land in the state. Youth of J and K is confused and often falls prey to the terrorists. Youth need employment and for employment we need industrial and other types of development. There is an urgent need to upgrade the techniques of artisans and craftsmen. Improvement in means of transport and communications can do wonders to the lives of the people of the state. Due to terrorist activities, numerous restrictions are put on mobile network, as prepaid mobiles of the rest of India do not work n the state, putting tourists at a disadvantage.
After nearly 67 years of independence Jammu and Kashmir is at a crossroad. Politicians with narrow vision are favouring continuation of Article 370, without caring for fulfillment of  the aspirations of the people of J&K. Need of the hour is to make J&K stand on is own feet, integrating with the rest of India by repealing this temporary provision of Article 370.
(The author is Associate Professor, PGDAV College, University of Delhi)

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