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What’s Next for Jammu and Kashmir?

— Written By CV Srikar

Article 370 was like the old furniture in one’s house: It was of no use; the furniture occupies unnecessary space; but you are lazy enough not to think of it and throw it away. Article 370 was the filter that kept equality, justice and peace away from Jammu and Kashmir. It was a constitutional piece that became a tool to keep Kashmir vegetative and boiling. It made the state, a dangling unit of the Indian Union. 

For a section of our country who claim they represent liberalism in India, Article 370 was their anthem of liberalism for J&K. For this class, Indian Army violates human rights in Kashmir, but the terrorists are heroic fighters. However, unsurprisingly, this class always found bliss in lecturing the world about the fault lines in India. For them India can never be peaceful and prosperous; for them India should always be fighting along its fault lines from Kashmir to Kerala, so that their business should go on. A wise man once said, if you are repeating the same mistakes, it’s because you are repeating the same process. J &K problem needed out of box thinking-the decision to bifurcate the state as well as the removal of Article 370 will go a long way in paving a brighter future for the state. 

Moving forward, the government should create a short, medium and long term plans for J&K, similarly for Ladakh. In this article I will focus on J&K. The short term goal of the government should be to host the G20 summit coming up in 2022 in Srinagar. This will create an urgency among the bureaucrats not just to develop infrastructure but also social cohesions for successfully hosting the summit. This will also develop a sense of hustle to develop tourist circuits like Shri Shankaracharya, Baba Amarnath Shrine, Hazratbal, and many others. 

During this period, the Indian security establishment should also try to completely isolate terror chargers from Pakistan. This is easier said than done, but I am optimistic that with a stable, willing central government and a solutions-please Home Minister along with the quaint support of NSA, isolating J&K from Pakistan won’t be difficult. The message to the global community will be loud and clear-J&K is an integral part of India and that J&K is normal. Three years may be medium term for humans, but for administrative units, three is short term. 

On the medium term, government should focus on improving the health and education outcomes of the state. J&K has only 67% literacy rate. The Infant Mortality Rate is close to 55, much higher than the national average. Same is the fate of other health statistics. The best service that any government can do to its people is improve their education and health outcomes. Health makes us happy while education keeps us future ready. In this regard, Central government’s efforts to rollout Ayushman Bharat much before the J&K resolutions in Parliament is commendable. 

Consequently, long term agenda will be make J&K at par with the best states of India. Having worked in a pahadi state (Himachal Pradesh), my personal wish would be the sustainable development of J&K. Pahadi states are ecologically very sensitive. We should appreciate the wisdom of our wise sages in this regard. They made most of these pahadi states as the fount of our culture and of Hinduism itself. Be it Badrinath, Amarnath, Mata Shri Naina Devi Ji or, Mata Vaishno Devi, pahadi states are called Dev Bhoomi. It is because these mountains are the progenitors of the great rivers of India and these rivers for years have nurtured humanity and 

civilisation in India. Pahadi states are also the source of diverse plant and animal species. Hence, sustainability should be a constant mantra for the government while developing J&K. 

For far too long, J&K was used as a political tool to keep the country boiling. J&K, economically, acted like a sinkhole-with most of central funds reaching only to some cabals’ pockets. The broken systems via the ropes of Article 370 were used by Pakistan to puppeteer (read, mislead) the people of Kashmir while attempting to bleed India with a thousand cuts. The historic decision by Indian parliament to change the history’s narrative and show that J&K is India’s is in itself miraculous. This proves that whenever India had a strong government (or a king in old times), no one could even look at us. Only when we fought amongst ourselves did we lose to outsiders. 

Jai Hind! 

(Srikar was a LAMP fellow batch of 2018 with BJP MP and now MoS, Finance, and Corporate Affairs Sh. Anurag Singh Thakur. Later, he joined Prayas Society in Himachal Pradesh to lead their flagship health program Sansad Mobile Swasthya Seva which has provided free primary healthcare services to more than 1.5 lakh people. Currently, he is assisting the setting of startups by tribal farmers in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.)

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