The Digital India in J&K impasse

Karanvir Gupta
While I switch on to the news with the desperate hope of seeing something positive going on in J&K, every time I am fed with ‘stuck in the muck’ kind of pieces. I am sure that to many, my dismay would seem almost similar to the dismay Indians reflect when they go abroad. But my dismay comes from the constant comparison I am made to make between the different states and the bullish nature of the bets placed on the Indian economy right now.
We might not feel it powerful enough to see the Digital India wave doing any better to us today but let me tell you that this is going to be our second most powerful thread connecting each one of us after the cultural connect. The Digital India is the gateway to millions of opportunities in healthcare, education, e-commerce, agriculture and other tertiary activities. This is almost, if not completely, an attempt to take the world many inches closer to the people residing in remote areas. We have always been complaining about the disparity between the avenues available for rural and the urban population. The digital India is a step towards bridging the divide.
Alas! we are not able to harvest it and sadly enough we will find it tough to utilize it to the maximum capacity. On one hand, cities and states all across India are already investing in infrastructure, services and are busy creating the ecosystem for digital era so as to make best use of it whenever it becomes a reality.
On the other hand we are still fidgeting over the meat and liquor bans. The headlines that catch attention are about the number of infiltrators caught. We have not been able to project Kashmir as the world class tourist destination and Jammu as an up-end business destination. The reason – our indecisiveness about what to do with which part of the state. We are so embattled because of the seeming divide between the two regions of the state. Getting a university and a world class hospital doesn’t seem important to us but in which part of the region it comes up is zillion times more important a concern. Unfortunately “politicians” fuel this fire and we are gutted in it year after year.
This very clash of titans is going to take us nowhere. Until and unless we make peace with ourselves and get our act right, we are not going to be a developed state. I feel hopeless (literally) seeing the situation in my home state. While we are gifted with so much natural beauty and resources, we are not capitalizing the same. How tough it is for businessmen in Jammu to invest in Kashmir to make it a tourist destination and how improbable it is for people in Kashmir to develop a healthy ecosystem. I fail to understand. By the time India will be all digitally connected, J&K would still be busy deciding how much funds should go to the valley and how much should be distributed to the rest.
I won’t be able to tell you in exact numbers that how much benefit will digitally connected J&K bring to us but I am sure sectors like education, healthcare and handicrafts can get a real-time boost. It is high time we focus on infrastructure in these sectors and keep it ready for to be digitally connecting be it in the form of smart classrooms, webinar sessions with world-class faculty, doctors and experts. Let the children sing and record their voices and upload on net. If you are a poet, self-publish a book and sell it online. If you are a weaver, sell your products on e-tail markets. If you are an artist, go have a digital exhibition.Let the talent fly high.
And next time, when I wake up I wish and hope that I do not hear to a whatsapp ban. I am sure that we are not so insensitive a breed that it needs bans to prevent the communal harmony. In fact I believe we are projected in a worse way than what the reality is. What I don’t want to see is J&K alone stuck in an impasse when rest of the country makes best of the digital wave. To conclude, I would say we will never be able to start the new chapter unless we stop reading the last chapter again and again. Let’s connect! Let’s be part of The Digital India – ekkadamkaamyaabiki aur!