New Kashmir Challenges and opportunities

Prof A N Sadhu
The August 05,2019 will go down, in the history of the state, as a very important day as it intended to change the destiny of the state and of its people. Should this re-organisation of the state be treated as down-grading the state or up grading the regional status, will initiate a long debate of interpretation. Yes, in the post-independence political history of the country, reorganisation of the states resulted into the creation of new states and hardly is there a case where reorganisation has led to dividing a state into Union territories. May be politically it is a down grading step but administratively it should be viewed otherwise as it would enhance efficiency and effectiveness of handling the affairs of the heterogeneous regions of the state in a better way. In fact the reorganisation of the state into union territories may not be an irritant, it is scrapping of the provisions of Art. 370, which is troubling mainly the political leaders who reaped rich harvests from it. Let it be left to the political Pundits to analyse the political dimensions of this Parliamentary Act; what becomes important to a common man is its impact on his day to day life. The proponents as also their supporters assert that a New Kashmir is born with a hope and promise of a better life for the people living in the different regions of the state. Whenever such a situation arises, it brings within its fold a lot of challenges as also a bag full of opportunities. Should the leaders grapple with the challenges and exploit the opportunities to the advantage of the people, is a big test for their statesmanship to use the historic opportunity for the betterment of the posterity. Realising that the political map of the country cannot be changed, rationality suggests of adopting a strategy for the optimisation of the gains that such a historic opportunity offers. Therefore, let it be believed that New Kashmir has arrived and one need to talk of the challenges and opportunities that it has brought within its fold.
Challenges are both; internal and external. All challenges are formidable but not unsurmountable. Where there is will there is a way. Internal challenges are manifold and will warrant a responsible handling. People have been fed on wrong notions and it will take time to erase those wrong impressions from their minds. These internal challenges may be listed as under :-
Anti social and anti national elements.
Some sections of population, who have never reconciled with Kashmir being a part of India, will, out of their mental compulsion, play the communal card and raise all ill-founded apprehensions about Kashmir being centrally administered, even when the local managers will be on the scene, every where. These are the sections of population who have been trouble shooters all these seventy years, that have gone by. Interestingly we have some self-styled spokes persons who pretend to be representing the people and speaking for them. Some of them neither know the history nor the geography of the state except that their joy rides end at Srinagar Airport. However, these sections of population are small. By and large, an average Kashmiri is a rational thinker. It appears that large sections of population have reconciled with what has been done or are indifferent and want the life to go on. With the number of rational thinking people swelling over time, this challenge will weaken of its own and new order will get into place to usher in a new era of peace and tranquillity .
Political leaders
Kashmir has had the misfortune of not getting the leaders who could work as statesmen and guide the destiny of the state selflessly. As the latest figures suggest, there have been several scams which have remained hidden because of the corrupt politicians as also the corrupt bureaucracy. The common man remained deprived of the gains of growth because the trickle down mechanism was never allowed to take place. Kashmir needs a new class of political leaders who do not carry the past hangover on their head but look forward with a free and fair mind and chalk out a new action plan to speed up the socio economic transformation of the new generation. Politicians who feel deprived of the clout they enjoyed by keeping the people ignorant, will take time to accept the change and till then allowing them to play the spoil sport will have to be tactfully denied.
Restive youth
The youth is very restive for a number of reasons, primary among them, the absence of gainful employment opportunities. Youth of the state is an intelligent folk but they find precious years of their youthful period get lost in establishing a foothold in any productive channel where they could use their potential in a more rewarding way. Discrimination, unfair treatment and corruption has been causing considerable distrust among the youth and allowing the human vultures to prowl on them. Meeting this challenge warrants purposeful efforts to provide avenues where their energy could be used in a constructive way guarenteeing them a comfortable and dignified living.
Creating awareness among the people is a giant task. That scrapping Art.370 amounts to depriving the people of the state of their rights is a misconception. In fact, its existence has been a serious disadvantage to the people. In a democratic country, there are a whole range of laws, rules and regulations aimed at delivering justice to the citizens in a free and fair manner and these not be applicable in a state, denies a fair share of justice to its people. In the absence of a number of labour laws, corporate rules and business regulations in the state, there might have been a considerable disadvantage to the local people. Mainstreaming the economic and welfare functioning will usher in a better deal for socio economic players in the newly created Union territory. In the absence of mainstreaming of the systems, the local regime remains restrictive and denies itself the advantages of an open system which is the global phenomenon these days. The people of the state need to be made aware of the fact that there will be an add-on on their gains and they do not stand to loose on any front. This awareness must dawn on the people who are struggling to respond to the change.
Rehabilitation of Displaced Community
Kashmir can’t be restored to its pristine glory without the return and rehabilitation of KPs. Political leaders have been talking of it out of fashion and a political gimmick. But it needs a serious attention. That it needs to be investigated as to who are responsible for this mass exodus of the community amounting to genocide, has been the persistent demand of the community but it has feel on deaf years, so far. The displaced community has not been delivered the justice by constituting a commission of enquiry so far. Let us hope, the new dispensation rises to the occasion and does it without further delay. The challenge has become a formidable task because of the lapse of three decades that witnessed indifference towards this challenge and unabated violence in the valley. Any further delay in meeting this challenge will have serious consequences for the future.
External challenges
The external challenges mostly emanate from the clandestine activities of our hostile neighbour. The neighbouring, country has been following the theory of “Thousand cuts” which besides creating a little stir has resulted into serious disadvantage to that country rendering it incapable of fighting its domestic economic and political problems. The country has become a production centre of global terrorism which is posing a serious threat to the regional and global peace. Adequate security arrangements are required to check infiltration and ensure peaceful transformation to the new political dispensation which will offer enhanced opportunities for all round development of the state. Engaging the neighbour in purposeful dialogue is required to give peace a chance.
The challenge of keeping the international community informed about the genuine intentions of the government in having scrapped the provisions of Art. 370 and reorganising the state is aimed at speeding up the pace of socio economic development and ensure greater political stability in the state. The campaign launched by the neighbouring country is likely to dent the fairness index of the action taken by the Government of India, unless it is combated with facts. The international community should acknowledge the constitutional uprightness in having scrapped the Art.370 lawfully. The world community is concerned about the human rights violations and it has to be kept updated on this sure. It is a different matter that it hardly felt concerned about the human rights violations when KPs had to leave their home and hearth because of the violence, murders and atrocities .
It is widely believed that the recent Parliamentary Act will usher in a new phase of socio economic development in the region which has remained lopsided over the last 70 years because of faulty and imperfect implementation of the government schemes, denying the people the advantage that should have accrued to them. It is possible that the modified formulation “Sab Ka Sath, Sab Ka Vikas and Sab Ka Vishwas” will get into gutter operation in the Union territory of J&K as also in the UT of Ladakh. However manifold opportunities likely to open up new avenues of development for the people of the state, may be listed as under :-
Inclusive Growth
It is believed that the benefits of economic development have not been fairly distributed among all sections of the society. There has been rampant corruption, open discrimination and naked favouritism in all spheres of the government working and substantial sums of development finance have been siphoned off to swell the bellies of selected few who wielded political and beurocratic influence in the state. There has been glaring disparities in allocation of funds among the regions and across the geographic divide within the region as well. The new regime is expected to promote inclusive growth taking all sections of population and all regions within its fold.
Healthy Political Activity
Political activity in the state has also remained lopsided. The
ethnic groups have been marginalized by mischievous twists of geographic alignments and by subjective interpretations of law. The political process remained dishonest and unfair and elections got rigged to suit the feudal elements in the state. In fact the last three decades violence is attributed to an unfair election. The state has suffered huge loss of life and property because of terrorist activities which remained unabated during the past thirty years. We have witnessed the democratic feudalism and not the peoples democracy. Selected few harvested the gains of socio economic and political development. The New Kashmir should look forward to have a vibrant democracy and a healthy political activity that addresses to all sections of population and all regions in a free and fair manner
There should be no doubt that new avenues of large Employment opportunities will open up when new industrial initiatives will be launched in the New Kashmir. The scientific processes of agricultural and horticulture produce will open new areas of gainful employment. The state is ideally suited to the establishment of precision goods industries, optitical equipments, electronics and other such enterprises which will bring rich dividends to the state. Tourism will flourish and augment incomes of large sections of population connected with. The diversification of tourist destinations will open new resorts to the visiting tourists, both local and foreign.
All said and done, the vision of a bright future, should not make us complacent. The advertised normalcy may be only peripheral and all out efforts are required to be made to take all sections of people on board. As of now, there may be some surface shows of normal activity but reports suggest that Kashmir is simmering. It has to be watched. That silence does not erupt into a storm. Viewed objectively, the people should accept the change; because Art.370 was more on paper than in practice. It remained a sensitive issue, may be more, because of ignorance than by substance. Yes, it has a political dimension but then the constitution of the country itself provided for its temporary status and in the evolution of democracies, changes do need to be made from time to time to bring the systems in tune with the needs. Rationally, the parliamentary Act should not be viewed as a victory but as a necessity and let the people both from inside and outside reconcile with it.