J&K: On the Cusp of Resurgence
‘A person’s true strength will be known in his revival, not in his survival’---An inspirer
Post by COL SATISH SINGH LALOTRA on Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Precisely 75 years back in the darkness of the Wellington air field (Delhi) on a cold autumn morning propellers of DC-3 Dakotas of number 12 squadron, IAF were whirring Fast and furious with Squadron leader KL Bhatia at the controls ready to script history by undertaking a historic sortie to the beleaguered state of Jammu and Kashmir. The month of October holds a special place in the annals of the country as well as the erstwhile state when the fate of the later hung by a slender thread ready to plunge into the morass of death, destruction and pillage under a macabre plan of ‘Operation Gulmarg unleashed across the border. The aim was to integrate J&K in the union of Pakistan by force; timely nullified by armed intervention by India, the only way forward for the country in those desperate times of 1947. Lot of water has flown down the rivers of Indus, Jhelum, Chenab and Ravi since then to the present times with the phenomenon of integration itself having undergone a nuanced transformation wrought by the time and tide of events, space and places casting a long shadow over the sub-continent.
Three years ago abrogation of article 370/35A changed the nomenclature of the erstwhile state to that of a union territory (UT) of J&K and that of Ladakh as a UT. Once the largest princely state in the British India commanding a 21 Gun salute for its Maharaja, Jammu &Kashmir saw the biggest cartographic change since independence. The aim was to complete the unfinished agenda of integration with the union of India started on that cold autumn morning of 26thOctober albeit in a different format. Seldom comes a time in the nation’s history when ideas and actions rarely got traction together to end decades of old socio-economic inequalities .Vision can become virtues if backed by a solid determination to create an equitable society. Three years ago PM Modi picked up the gauntlet and tried to offload a murky past that was holding the jugular of 1.3 crores of citizens of J&K from reaching its potential. Always under punching below its stated weight despite of its strategic importance, a gifted natural environment and a hardy people, J&K now only got a head start by targeting the evils of mis-governance, lack of monitoring and financial indiscipline showing positive results in the form of development projects.
Just before abrogation of article 370/35A, only 9229 projects were completed in a year which has increased to 50627 in the financial year 2021-22. Rupees 3 lakh crores has been spent to improve road connectivity and build tunnelsthereby reducing the resource gap in infra build up. As per the UT government’s officialproclamation, social sector spending has increased by 43.83 % and the economic sector by 45.60 % in the last three years. Implementation of ‘Janbhagidari empowerment’ portal demonstrates the administration’s will to empower people through an initiative that enables them to oversee the works being executed and money spent in their area. J&K was ranked first amongst the states/UT in the recently released national e-governance service delivery assessment report. More than 200 public services have been made available online to receive real –time feedback from citizens. Structural and institutional changes like ending the 150 years old Darbar move brought in another layer of transparency and improvement in governance. It also saved about Rs 400 crores annual expenditure that used to be incurred in shifting logistics from Srinagar to Jammu and back. Projects worth Rs 58,477 crores under the PM’S development package have picked up and direction after imediments and bottlenecks that hindered growth –land acquisition, forest clearances, utility shifting and court cases were removed. Fifty new colleges have been established increasing the number of seats to 25,000. In addition to the above 2 new AIIM’s, 7 new medical colleges and 15 nursing colleges have been added.An additional 41141 kms of roads have been constructed. The UT has been placed 4th in the ranking of states and UT’s based on their performance in the PMGSY. Notwithstanding the above achievements, I suppose following challenges ought to be surmounted by the UT administrationto further hone its capabilities to face the masses fair and square in the realm of good governance and minimum government-
- Curb the resurgence of terrorism based on increasing radicalization of the youth.
- Dismantling of ‘Hybrid terrorism’ based on drug abuse, and geo-political changes happening around.
- Kick start the stagnant economic scenario by inspiring more ‘Start up’ culture so as to dissuade the youth hankering after govt jobs.
- Kick start the political process by an early conductance of assembly elections thereby ending the bubble of uncertainty.
- Provide a further fillip to the tourism industry and ancillary job market thereby bring down the soaring unemployment rate which is highest in the country.
- Try building economic bridges between neighbouring states like HP and Punjab and inculcate best business practices.
- Try replicating the ‘Baddi model of industrialization based in HP to that of model of Jammu and Kashmir.
Dreams and aspirations are galore in the ever widening lexicon of the common man of the UT. Need of the hour is to not miss the bus of development driven by the present central government.
(The Author is Retired Army Officer and writes regularly for RK. He can be reached on: email@example.com)