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[Burning Issue] One Year since the Repeal of Art. 370

Exactly a year back, on August 5, 2019, the government of India revoked the special status granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. The move was made on the promise of a better life for every Kashmiri in terms of social and economic parameters.

So, with one year anniversary, it is the perfect opportunity to analyze what the move has meant for the common people. Did it bring them the development as promised? The article looks at some of the changes that the state has seen in the last 1 year, no judgments(promise!).

Background

Read the complete thread here at:

[Burning Issue] Reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir

Visible impacts of the move

(Obviously, the impacts from the repeal of Article 370 cannot be studied in isolation from impacts of COVID in the region.)

(A) Political Impacts

The legal talk

  • The abrogation of special status has extended the reach of Parliament and Indian Constitution over the region in its entirety.
  • The reorganization appendix gives an insight to which former laws passed by the state have been retained, repealed, and which central laws have been extended:
  • Example: 164 laws – 153 state laws and 11 Governor’s Acts – have been repealed; 166 state laws have been retained; 7 state laws have been retained with amendments; 106 central laws have been made applicable.
  • The Right to Information Act, 2005 and the Representation of People Act, 1951 are among the laws being extended to the UT in entirety.

New Domicile Rules

  • This year center came out with a new list of criteria for attaining domicile in J&K.
  • Since then, 4 lakh people in Jammu and Kashmir have been issued domicile certificates.
  • A significant proportion has been given out to those who despite living or serving in the state for years were not considered the residents of the state due to the provisions of Artice 35A, which now stands repealed.

Reduction in Corruption

  • The CMS-India Corruption Study 2017 placed Jammu and Kashmir among the top corrupt states in India, stating that 84 per cent of the people surveyed perceived increased corruption in public services.
  • With corruption almost becoming second nature to the political elites and administrators, the immediate casualty in J&K has been effective governance and justice.
  • This has undermined the trust of the Kashmiris in democracy and shattered their faith in the legitimacy of the politico-administrative setup, posing a direct challenge to peace operations.
  • The situation has relieved(for now) since the abrogation of special status and paves the way for curbing corrupt practices.

(B) Social Impacts

Public perception of the move

  • The abrogation of autonomy without the consent of the Kashmiris has raised the threat perception among the people regarding their identity and culture.
  • The lost ‘autonomy’ and Art. 370 had a symbolic and emotional significance for Kashmir’s people.

New Low in Education 

  • The continued shutdowns and internet blockade has severely affected college and university students and so has the digital learning.
  • College students and research scholars, for instance, have not been able to fill the online forms for competitive exams, scholarship grants and research papers.
  • Most of the hostels in Kashmir University are shut indefinitely.

Rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits

  • Construction of 6,000 transit accommodations for accommodating 3000 Kashmiri migrants and 849 flats have been constructed so far.
  • The Centre also reimburses monthly cash relief to the eligible Kashmiri migrants settled in Jammu.
  • Since the year 2014, the monthly cash relief has been enhanced twice i.e. from Rs 6600/- per family to Rs 10,000/- per family in 2015 and to Rs 13,000/- per family in 2018.

Era of social security measures

  • The government introduced an array of insurance schemes including the Atal Pension Yojana in the newly carved Union Territory.
  • The Centre also launched 85 people-oriented development schemes, like PM-KISAN, PM-KISAN-Pension, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, and Stand-Up India in Jammu and Kashmir.

(C) Economic Impact

Agriculture

  • The apple industry in Kashmir, worth INR 80 billion which contributes 8 per cent of J&K’s GDP, has been worst affected.
  • The farmers have highlighted their troubles in selling the produce in the local APMCs.
  • Threats from militants, coupled with the government’s severe clampdown delayed the harvest for over a month, dealing a crippling blow to the industry during the peak harvest season.

Industries

  • Core sectors of the economy of J&K have witnessed a steep decline after the abrogation of Article 370.
  • The communications blockade, curfews, and militant threats has taken a toll on the economy of Kashmir by INR 178.78 billion.
  • More than 90,000 jobs in the sectors of handicraft and information technology have been lost.

Tourism

  • Tourism, which forms 8-10% of J&K’s GDP, is in shambles after the lockdown.
  • Less than 50,000 tourists visited the U.T. between August and December 2019.

(D) Security Impacts

  • According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the lockdown and increase in Army presence led to a decrease in terrorism-related deaths.
  • Lesser fatalities: There has been a decrease in terrorism-related deaths.
  • Youth joining militancy: The number of local recruits has increased. In 2020, until March, 87.5% of the militants killed were locals according to SATP.
  • Border intrusion: Infiltration attempts along the LoC, however, remain high as Pakistan-based terrorist groups continue to try to send more militants in the Valley.
  • Reduced covert attacks: There have been fewer improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and grenade attacks this year.

(E) Geopolitical Impacts

  • The abrogation of Article 370 has also led to the internationalization of the Kashmir conflict.
  • Dividing Ladakh from J&K has not only fulfilled the demands of the people of the region but also has sent a clear message to China that it is an integral part of India where Indian constitution holds despite China sometimes claiming it to be its own territory.
  • Visibly after that, we have witnessed the increased cases of transgression by the Chinese PLA in Ladakh.
  • UNSC has met two times for closed-door meetings on the situation in Kashmir.
  • Pakistan’s quest for garnering Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) support these days is quite prominent than earlier.

Was Art. 370 the real problem?

  • Article 370, over the decades, was diluted many times but despite these dilutions, it bore great symbolic and psychological significance for Kashmiris.
  • It also displayed India’s asymmetric federalism, which granted differential rights to certain federal subunits, often in recognition of their distinctive ethnic identity.
  • For sure, the educational and health sectors in J&K should be have been improved but the reason for the underperformance of the educational and health sectors in Kashmir is not Article 370.
  • While private enterprises could set up industries in the former State on leased land, as they have over the years, acquisition of land by public sector enterprises from outside the State was never a problem.
  • Private investors do not set up shop in Kashmir due to militancy which is a product of an existing conflict; not because of Articles 370 or 35A.

Way Forward

(1) Building trust

  • The foremost challenge for New Delhi is rebuilding trust.
  • To rebuild the trust deficit and to win over the confidence of the Kashmiris, the government must immediately repeal the PSA – which should have become ultra vires, in the first place.
  • This will create a sense of oneness among the Kashmiris and will help change their perception towards New Delhi.

(2) Addressing the distress 

  • Due attention must be given to address rural economic distress created after the unprecedented, unseasonal snowfall in November.
  • The government should compensate all the farmers with a farm credit or a loan waiver as it is done in other states.

(3) Approaching with soft policies

  • New Delhi should ensure that the land’s pluralism is defended by assiduously handling the identity, cultural and religious issues.
  • In the present state of affairs, the political process is being hijacked and political leaders are under detention.
  • The release of the political class will send a positive signal.

(4) Lifting the internet blackout

  • The government must immediately lift the internet blackout in all educational institutions.
  • Prolonging the internet curfew any longer will only alienate the students and the youth, who are already hurt and angered at the Centre’s unilateral action.

(5) Resume educational institutions

  • Without any delay, the Centre must also announce the establishment of modern higher education institutions and IITs in its new UT.
  • Quality manpower is a prerequisite for the promised economic growth of the region.
  • Simultaneously, the Centre should actively help to restore regular functioning of closed educational institutions that have been shut since a year and equip them with all modern scientific facilities.
  • The Centre must also announce a new set of attractive scholarships for Kashmiri students.

Conclusion

Now is the time to renew ties with the region by initiating a series of serious and sincere interlocution measures to win over the confidence of the alienated population.

It is necessary that focus on pressing local issues increases and we nurture new local leadership, so that, the grip of the political elite in the Valley loosens.

Kashmir is known for its glorious past and it is high time that this glory returns to the valley.

 

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DEEPAK KUMAR
DEEPAK KUMAR
1 year ago

THANKS CD