25 Aug 2020
The Indian Government on 05 Aug 2019, amended the Indian Constitution and removed certain special rights granted to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, which were temporarily granted under Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution. The abrogation of Article 370 and subsequent bifurcation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has ensured that the people living in Jammu and Kashmir would now have the same rights and privileges as the rest of India’s citizens.
The existence of special rights for the people of Jammu and Kashmir had generated a feeling of being different which in turn were being exploited by the forces inimical to the unity of India and had resulted in loss of more than 70,000 lives during the last thirty years. The removal of these articles will now lead to a greater national integration.
Gender Equality. Under the provisions of Article 35A, a Kashmiri man marrying outside Kashmir continued to retain the rights to his parent’s land and property. However, under the same article, a Kashmiri woman marrying an Indian not residing in Kashmir, lost all her rights to ancestral land and property. This constrained Kashmiri woman, from marrying anyone of their own choice. The removal of Article 35A eliminated this disparity and restored gender equality within the Union Territory.
Empowerment of Weaker Sections of the Society. Article 370 acted as a major hindrance towards the applicability of laws that were passed in the Indian Parliament. Laws designed to provide additional legal, political and economic support to the Dalits and other weaker sections of the India, were not applied in Jammu and Kashmir. Progressive laws such as reservations for weaker sections in schools, colleges and government jobs in addition to the protection of LGBTQ community were no longer applicable before the abrogation of Article 370.
Planned Development Projects and External Investment
The provisions of Article 370 and 35A ensured that under no circumstances, could an Indian or Foreign entity own property within the state. This resulted in a complete breakdown of external investment resulting in the creation of a massive gap in development of infrastructure and associated projects within Kashmir. The provisions also impeded the tourism sector within the state resulting in poor development of businesses and lack of employment opportunities. The abrogation of these provisions will result in creation of employment avenues, better revenue to the government and development of necessary infrastructure, such as Metro Rails, Power Projects and Roadways.
Education and Healthcare
The education and healthcare sector within Jammu and Kashmir will receive a big boost, as Public-Private Partnership models will enhance the image of Kashmir as an education hub. This in turn would reduce the exodus of large number of Kashmiri students to other states in search of education avenues. Private investment in healthcare, creation of world class hospitals and health care centres, would enable top quality health care right to the doorsteps of the people. The development of infrastructure in healthcare could convert Jammu and Kashmir as a hub for medical tourism for the citizens of Middle east and East Asian countries.
Development in Agrarian and Horticulture Sectors
The agriculture and horticultural sectors in Jammu and Kashmir had seen a downward spiral over the years, due to the inefficiency of the local government in opening up global markets for the sale and export of agrarian products such as Apples, Saffron etc outside of Kashmir. With the introduction of the Geographical Indication (GI) tag and establishment of a New market intervention scheme for apple growers, the agrarian sector is set to undergo a huge transformation and would directly impact the lives of over 1.5 million farmers in the state positively.
Development in Local Governance
The issue of local and self-governance had been plaguing the common citizens of the state, majority of whom were residing in villages. The systemic, dissolution of the Panchayat Raj, inefficiency of the state government in empowering the local municipal corporations, hindered the common man from receiving even the most basic amenities such as water, electricity and roads. The dissolution of the State assembly and the subsequent establishment of the Union Territory, would enable the growth of local governing institutes as well as the Panchayati Raj. This would enable greater accountability and transparency within the working of government institutions while also enabling greater accountability of these institutions to the public.
The abrogation of article 370 and 35A and subsequent bifurcation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two distinct Union territories, has resulted in a complete turnaround in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. With the overall security situation seeing a positive growth post abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, Kashmir could start witnessing tremendous economic as well as personal growth in the upcoming years. However, the challenge in front of the government would be to continuously meet the aspirations of the local population to garner support in favour of this historic and momentous decision.