Kashmir needs transition from past to future

Mriganka M Bhowmick

In the backdrop of heinous terrorist attack killing 41 CRPF Jawans in Pulwama, the focus of entire nation has come back to Kashmir. The anger of India has propelled a war like sentiment against Pakistan. Multiple reactive measures by India have been taken out like withdrawing security of separatist leaders, taking back Most Favoured Nation (MFN) Status of Pakistan apart from creating international pressure on Pakistan. Since the attack was in a nature of its worst kind, the public anger displayed by voicing the sentiment to cut off all ties with Pakistan including cultural, sports and social along with an urge to give strong be-fitting reply to Pakistan which is not-less-than a military revenge. But this kind of sentiments and government actions are not new.
While talking about Kashmir issue, one should understand that India should resolve the issues of poor and common people of Kashmir. Kashmir is essentially a people’s issue. Therefore, resolving that through fragmented political dialogues by engaging feudal state leaderships, separatists or Pakistan cannot yield intended outcome. Each one of these groups has its own vested interests running from power to financial benefits to geo-political supremacy and common citizens are kept at bay with their precarious condition. The general public of Kashmir is altogether a separate constituency than these three segments, but no one is talking to them directly. India needs to start a dialogue with them. The poor and commoners of Kashmir are most affected segments in Kashmir’s unrest, but they have hardly any option express to their anguish and future. Kashmir is all about the future of its people and one needs to address that.
Kashmir always remains a prisoner of past. The politics of convenience & vested interests can be played very well about past as past cannot be changed. The arguments and counter arguments remain unproductive to resolve the problem of Kashmir as it revolves around the vicious past cycle with no exit route as there is no future goal for welfare of its people. It is time to review objectively about the Kashmir’s past and plan an elaborate future of its people.
“Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India”- This has been solemnly declared not only in First Schedule of Constitution of India but also in The Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, 1957 which has been drafted by J & K Assembly and enacted by them on 26th January, 1957. The territory status thus described in both the constitutions cannot be superseded by any other mechanism.
Article 370 is perceived as an umbilical cord which defines the relationship of Kashmir with India. But Article 370 is itself a child of circumstances which took birth due to “Instrument of Accession” signed between Maharaja Hari Singh and Union of India. As Maharaja Hari Singh wanted to have autonomy and sovereign right over his erstwhile ruled territory, so he crafted the instrument based on his suitability though he failed to retain his monarchy. As specified in” Instrument of Accession” except for defence, foreign affairs and communication, all others laws passed by Indian Parliament need to be passed by the state government before they are made applicable in the state of J & K. This has also become part of the Article 370.
Needless to say, it has limited India’s power to unleash its full potential to act on public welfare for J & K State. It is noteworthy to mention that “Instrument of Accession” thus created by the King was focused to create power political fiefdom over the state but was not taking into account the larger cause that is the welfare of its people. It is surprising to see that the choice & preference of a monarch abdicated long back are still deciding the fate of Kashmiris and India is feeling helpless to integrate Kashmir with its economic well-beings. So the economic depression looms large in the valley.
Empowered with Instrument of Accession and safeguarded by Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir State is maintaining a standalone status to have it own constitution enacted in 1957 and amended few times thereafter. Evidently the state is governed by its constitution and all the powers are reposed to the State Government barring few as mentioned in Article 370. Today it is pertinent to ask why the state’s multiple governments failed to bring development Kashmir albeit enjoying huge power. The misfortune of Kashmir is that its politics is not public welfare oriented rather jingoism to promote its independent stature has become its only political narrative.
Kashmir needs to think beyond its history of accession and need to embrace it future. Economy being a corner stone of well-being of its people would be its key concern and people should make political leaderships accountable for that. The increasing fiscal deficit and dependency of central support are lead indicators of the fact that state’s focus on capital expenditure and revenue generation are not in right track. Lack of basic social amenities and healthcare facilities are creating huge pain for its people.
When political bosses from both centre and state will constitute an All Party Committee to revive economic health of Kashmir or they think that committee needs only to make the past straight? Kashmir needs economy interlocutor not political interlocutor.  Centre and the state need to take multiple strong measures for that. Let Kashmir be rich & affluent. (IPA)

Tuesday, 5 March, 2019