Election 2024: Seize the opportunity for future generations

G L Raina
Electors of Jammu Kashmir need to weigh options properly before exercising the Right to elect their representative in the Parliament. Larger good of the people, territory and its environment in totality needs to be given precedence over other narrow individual or factional issues.
Elections are vital milestones in a democracy. We in India are privileged enough to have elections at regular intervals. This festival of democracy allows common people to express their opinion on various political parties/alliances and their agenda for governance.
Lok Sabha election 2024 in that sense is more significant for Jammu Kashmir and its people. Rest of the country has had the privilege of endorsing the leadership of Narendra Modi ji in 2019 after enjoying the fruits of electing him in 2014. They are set to re-elect him in 2024 as is reflected in the mood of the nation verified by most of the observers and media outlets.
Jammu Kashmir also played its role in contributing to the systemic change taking place since 2014.But 2024 will be a real test for the citizens of Jammu Kashmir. Will they grab the opportunity and break away from the traditional politics based on emotional issues, sectarian considerations and narrow regional concerns?
Electors of Jammu Kashmir, Kashmir in particular need to weigh options properly before exercising the Right to elect their representative in the Parliament. Larger good of the people, territory and its environment in totality needs to be given precedence over other narrow individual or factional issues.
People in general and citizens of Jammu Kashmir in particular have now experience of governments led by almost all political parties to compare their performance. If assessment is done diligently it will be easy to reach an appropriate conclusion.
Basis for the evaluation of performance can be grounded on certain universal parameters like creating a legal framework for citizens irrespective of religious, regional and gender discrimination. Similarly protection of life and property, creating durable infrastructure for ease of living and expansion of economic activity to create prosperity for all can be assessed to gauge performance of various governments. Some aspects are listed here to help the reader and ponder.
Laws for protection of People’s Rights
Present generation of Jammu Kashmir has experience of life under two converse mechanisms. This can be defined pre and post 2019 changes for convenience.
If we take a few vulnerable sections of society like women, children, Divyangs and voiceless poor to understand legal protection available to them before and after 2019, the difference is loud, noticeable and quantifiable. Ambiguities of earlier periods are gone.
Children of Jammu Kashmir are now protected by CLPRA (Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation) Act, have their Constitutional Fundamental Right to Education and also get protection under various provisions of the law ensured through Juvenile Justice Act and protection against Sexual Offences through an effective POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.
Similarly The Rights of Persons with Disability (RPWD) Act that enjoins upon the Government to ensure that the PWD enjoy the right to equality, life with dignity, and respect for his or her own integrity equally with others is now applicable to Jammu Kashmir without ifs and buts.
Women of jammu Kashmir have now legal right as equal citizens. They no longer can be discriminated against for choosing a life partner of their choice from any part of the country. They have now identical right to inheritance and acquiring/ disposing immovable property as is available to men of Jammu Kashmir.
Security situation
Another important parameter to gauge the difference, in my opinion, is the security situation of Jammu Kashmir. How did people feel a sense of security under different regimes? Security of both people and property is crucial for every other human activity. In a situation where one is not sure of returning home without harm or where safety of investment of any kind individual or an organisation is not assured people are hesitant to venture out to invest.
Jammu Kashmir in general and Kashmir valley in particular has suffered a lot on account of disturbed security situation.
It has been under the NDA government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that things have begun to transform considerably. Even a layman in the street expresses confidence about an improved security situation which is corroborated by not only data available of various parameters but also by the confidence exhibited by investors, tourists visiting places , high profile events like national and international meets being organised. It is further substantiated by lack of restrictions on important occasions like Independence Day, Republic Day and or visits by high profile guests. This we agree was almost a norm in the not so far away past.
Hartal calls, stone pelting, Bandhs and coercive plunder of resources of individuals and society are no more heard. This has paved the way for expansion of economic activity and creation of wealth leading to prosperity.
Development of quality Infrastructure
The development of infrastructure in any area is vital to the growth of its sectors and the overall economy. The infrastructure sector primarily comprises electricity, roads, telecommunications, railways, irrigation, water supply and sanitation, health care and airports etc. For a hilly state like Jammu Kashmir it is more important due to difficult terrain and topography.
Jammu Kashmir in the post 2019 era has seen significant improvement in development of quality infrastructure in every sector. Road connectivity to remote areas irrespective of terrain or topography has witnessed tremendous improvement. Besides reducing travel time it has helped development of new and virgin tourist spots while known places have experienced record footfall of visitors. Even the cable car at Gulmarg, Gondola has broken the record of sale of tickets/riders. Tourist spots like Bhaderwah, Mantalai, Bani and Gharana wetlands are witnessing unprecedented flow of guests.
Similarly excellent infrastructure has been created in Healthcare (Medical, paramedical, curative and investigative), Education ( Primary to University levels), Sports ( stadia to trainings and equipment as well as competitive platforms), Tourism, Agro-Industry, Air and Railway connectivity, power generation
Transparency in Governance and social harmony are other elements which mark post 2019 era in Jammu Kashmir positively contrarily to pre-2019 era.
Four years is not a long time enough to realise dreams. Remember this period was also when the world confronted the worst kind of a pandemic and also globally impacting wars. In spite of such impediments if Jammu Kashmir could be witness to such spectacular progress and development with reasonable peace all-round, one can only imagine acceleration of momentum in future.
Therefore it is very important for the people of Jammu Kashmir to choose their priorities prudently and elect such representatives who will be part of this transformation process.
In conclusion people must be reminded the story of One of the greatest gifts of the NDA-I government of Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee the 5846 KM Golden Quadrilateral connecting four big metros was slowed down to a crawl for various reasons including denying credit where it was due by the then UPA Government. Continuity is paramount in such a situation.
(The author is former MLC & BJP Spokesperson)