Peace, progress and development
Dr Karan Singh, former Regent, Sadr-e-Riyasat and Governor of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state and a former union minister and a veteran politician and scholar, in a recent interview to a news portal said that it is New Delhi’s responsibility to compensate the losses that all sections of Kashmir suffered post August 05 2019. While the Covid-19 impacted every sphere of life in Kashmir like rest of the world, even before the pandemic, Kashmir was shut and all economic activities had come to a halt and so had the developmental process. The situation was not created by people of the Jammu and Kashmir but by the New Delhi and therefore Dr Singh is right in saying that it is New Delhi that should compensate.
While life had started limping back to normalcy by March 2020, the spread of Covid-19 proved to be yet another disaster forcing all businesses to shut. Now that there is much improvement in the situation and government has launched vaccination drive, the UT administration need to move beyond promise making and start delivering on the ground.
Good news is that tourism sector has started picking up and during past three-four months, tourists in good numbers visited the Valley. Khelo India event also conveyed a message all over India that Kashmir and Kashmiris are all set to host tourists. Need is to concentrate on it and ensure the flow increases with every passing day. The UT administration needs to reach out to the governments of all states and UTs and convince them to encourage people to visit Kashmir so that the economy gets some flip. Besides, the government should, as suggested by Dr Singh, announce special packages for tourism, transport, fruit, handicrafts and other sectors. Kashmir needs a special attention and time is ripe that all steps are taken to ensure that this place gets respite from economic deprivation.
Post August 2019, the government here and in New Delhi has been making tall claims that Jammu and Kashmir is going to usher in new era of peace, progress and development. On peace front, the administration here needs appreciation as Kashmir, by and large, is peaceful and people have heaved a sigh of relief in absence of street protests, stone pelting incidents and frequent hartal calls. But as for progress and development are concerned, lots is to be done to convince people that the government means what it says. Though everyday lots of developmental projects are announced but on the ground the change is yet to be seen. Even a cursory look at the roads of twin cities of Srinagar and Jammu are concerned, most of these roads are in pathetic condition. Power sector is in shambles and so is the public transport. The administration has to understand that it is face to face with an extra-ordinary situation and to deal with it, it needs extra-ordinary measures.