The new beginning
By: Tahir M Lone
In the annals of history, certain moments mark a paradigm shift, altering the course of a region’s destiny. One such moment occurred on August 5, 2019, when the Indian government abrogated Article 370, ushering in a new era of development in Jammu and Kashmir.
This bold decision set in motion a series of transformative changes that have reshaped the region, bringing peace, prosperity, and a renewed sense of hope. Over the past four years, Jammu and Kashmir have witnessed significant progress across various sectors, fueling the dawn of development that is now visible to all.
A Journey from Turmoil to Tranquility
The journey towards development in Jammu and Kashmir has been marked by both political and economic reforms. The abrogation of Article 370 was a definitive moment, dismantling the barriers that had isolated the region and paving the way for unprecedented opportunities.
Prior to this historic decision, Jammu and Kashmir faced numerous challenges, including unrest, strikes, and stone pelting incidents that disrupted daily life. However, since the abrogation, the region has experienced a remarkable transformation, basking in the glow of normalcy. Schools, colleges, and universities now operate without disruptions, a testament to the newfound stability and conducive learning environment.
Embracing Central Schemes and Initiatives
One of the key drivers of development in Jammu and Kashmir has been the effective implementation of various centrally-sponsored schemes. The central government’s commitment to the region’s growth and progress is evident in the allocation of significant resources and the execution of impactful projects. Mega projects have been completed, ongoing works have progressed, and the benefits of different schemes have reached the people.
The introduction of Central laws that were previously not applicable in Jammu and Kashmir has further strengthened the region’s social, economic, and political fabric. For instance, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, which guarantees free and compulsory education for all children, is now being implemented in Jammu and Kashmir, ensuring access to quality education for the younger generation.
Infrastructure Development and Economic Rejuvenation
Infrastructure development has been a top priority in Jammu and Kashmir, with significant investments being made to enhance connectivity, power generation, healthcare facilities, and tourism infrastructure. The region has witnessed the completion of numerous road projects, totaling thousands of kilometers, improving connectivity and facilitating the movement of goods and people.
The construction of the world’s highest railway bridge over the Chenab River stands as a testament to the region’s progress and ambition. Additionally, efforts have been made to revive power projects and harness the hydroelectric potential of Jammu and Kashmir, ensuring a sustainable and reliable energy supply. These infrastructure developments have not only improved the lives of the people but have also laid the foundation for economic growth and job creation.
Empowering Local Governance and Grassroots Democracy
The abrogation of Article 370 has paved the way for the empowerment of local governance and grassroots democracy in Jammu and Kashmir. The extension of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments, related to the Panchayati Raj system, has brought about a three-tier grassroots democratic structure in the region.
Elections were conducted at the block level for the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, with an impressive voter turnout of 98.3 percent. This democratic empowerment has not only provided a platform for people to voice their aspirations and concerns but has also ensured the active participation of women in politics through reservation in Panchayats. The inclusion of women in decision-making processes at the grassroots level has strengthened democracy and catalyzed positive change.
Promoting Tourism and Showcasing the Cultural Heritage
Jammu and Kashmir, with its breathtaking natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, has always been a popular tourist destination. The region’s tourism potential has been harnessed and promoted to attract visitors from across the globe. The record-breaking tourist footfall in recent years attests to the success of these efforts.
The government’s focus on rural tourism and local culture, as evident in initiatives like the celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav in offbeat destinations, has not only showcased the natural and cultural treasures of Jammu and Kashmir but has also provided economic opportunities for the local population. The successful hosting of the G20 Working Group meeting in the region further highlighted its potential as a global diplomatic and business hub.
Ensuring Peace and Security
The dawn of development in Jammu and Kashmir has been accompanied by a significant improvement in the security situation. The decline in terror incidents, stone pelting, and weapon snatching reflects the success of security forces in dismantling terror networks and ensuring the safety and security of the people.
The restoration of internet serviceshas facilitated communication and connectivity, enabling the region to thrive in the digital age. The commitment to maintaining peace and order has been paramount, and efforts continue to build a secure environment that fosters progress and prosperity.
Harnessing the Potential of Youth
The youth of Jammu and Kashmir, once lured by false promises and misled by divisive narratives, have emerged as the torchbearers of a new dawn. The abrogation of Article 370 has given wings to their dreams and aspirations, instilling a sense of hope and optimism for a brighter future.
The government’s focus on youth-centric initiatives like the Khelo India and Fit India campaigns has fostered a spirit of sportsmanship, moral values, and healthy competition among the younger generation. The increased number of educational institutions, including prestigious institutions like IIT, IIM, and AIIMS, has provided quality education and opened doors to new opportunities. The youth of Jammu and Kashmir are now actively contributing to nation-building, ensuring that their potential is fully realized.
International Recognition and Collaborative Efforts
The progress achieved in Jammu and Kashmir has not gone unnoticed on the international stage. The successful hosting of the G20 Working Group meeting in the region showcased India’s commitment to promoting peace, stability, and economic development.
Collaborative efforts with international partners have further strengthened ties and opened avenues for investment, trade, and cultural exchange. The region’s participation in global events and diplomatic engagements has positioned Jammu and Kashmir as a key player in international affairs, reinforcing its place in the global community.
Nurturing Nationalism and Unity
The dawn of development in Jammu and Kashmir has been accompanied by a resurgence of nationalism and a sense of unity among the people. The chants of “Vande Bharat” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai” during the Tiranga Yatra reflected the aspirations of the Kashmiri youth and shattered long-held misconceptions about their desires.
The integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country, both politically and economically, has solidified its place in the national fabric. The newfound sense of identity and belonging has fostered a stronger bond between the region and the nation, reinforcing the ideals of One India and promoting a shared vision of progress and prosperity.
The dawn of development in Jammu and Kashmir, catalyzed by the abrogation of Article 370, has brought about a transformative shift in the region’s trajectory. The progress achieved in the past four years is a testament to the government’s unwavering commitment to the welfare and prosperity of the people.
The region has witnessed significant improvements in infrastructure, education, healthcare, tourism, and grassroots democracy. The restoration of peace and security has laid the foundation for sustained growth and development.
As Jammu and Kashmir embrace this new era, the future shines bright with promise, unity, and the spirit of a resurgent nation. The people in Jammu and Kashmir belonging to diverse sections of the society appreciate the efforts of the Modi led Government for this transformation.
(The author is associated with a Kashmir based think tank and can be reached on: [email protected])