As Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was repealed there were a lot of reactions from different quarters. Some of such reactions were from internal camps within the country who, for different reasons, want the sections under Article 370 to continue.

Jammu and Kashmir was given a special status to give its residents certain privileges over and above the constitutional safeguards given to various other communities and tribes and believe only this will ensure unity and harmony of the country. Quite interestingly, the Islamist fundamentalists vigorously support this view of a section of left progressive intellectuals.

On the other hand, in the international arena, the neighbouring countries China and Pakistan seem to have strongly protested against this particular amendment of the Indian Constitution. Such reaction from China and Pakistan regarding India’s internal affairs is in fact significant and has dangerous portents from the perspective of the country’s sovereignty.

China’s reactions after the scrapping of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, was most ominous. The so-called communist regime which doesn’t welcome any comments upon the internal matters of that country, through its spokesperson in the external affairs ministry Geng Xuang expressed his dissatisfaction in October 2019 that India bringing some Chinese territories in Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir under the control of the Central Government can’t be supported.

“We strongly oppose this decision. India has brought about legal and administrative changes challenging the sovereignty of China. We appeal to India to respect China’s sovereignty. We also appeal to India to maintain peace at the border by sticking to bilateral peace agreements between the two countries,” he said in a statement.

The decision to convert Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh to Union Territories was taken by the Indian parliament and the question doesn’t arise of consulting the Chinese government on this issue. While India has never talked about the internal matters of China, Chinese authorities have interfered in the internal matters of India to establish its hegemony.

Now, it has become clear to everybody that China, with its ulterior motives of geographical expansion with regards to its neighbours, wants Jammu and Kashmir to remain separate from India. No wonder that China is most vocal in protesting the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution.

Now, let us consider the issue of development. The special reason for incorporating Article 370 into the Constitution was to provide the people of Jammu and Kashmir certain socio-economic autonomy so that they get the opportunity of all-round development. But, in reality, through Article 370 while the power and prosperity got concentrated in the hands of a super-elite class, the development for the average citizen got very stagnant.

Since the withdrawal of Article 370 and Section 35A of the Indian Constitution on August 5, 2019, some very disturbing facts regarding development have come to the light. As per media reports, 51 thousand Crores Rupees have been allocated in the last six decades for the development of Jammu and Kashmir while it has remained the most backward state in terms of education and employment. Even in terms of the magnitude of corruption, Jammu and Kashmir has got the distinction of being the 5th most corrupt state!

As per statistics, a total of Rs 57 lakh Crores has been spent for development in the country from the first 5-year plan in 1951- 56 till 2007- 12. Out of this, only Rs 51 thousand crore was spent in Jammu and Kashmir. It’s 1% of the total plan expenditure in the country. Unfortunately even after this much was spent, the basic infrastructural issues like education, health or employment generation remained unresolved.

In the case of the provision of drinking water, the position of Jammu and Kashmir was 19th till 2019. Against the national average of 85.5 of the availability of drinking water, in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, drinking water is available only in 77% of households. The position of women in the state is most backward. In the male-dominated Jammu and Kashmir, only 14% of women are to be found at the workplace.

So, it’s apparent that in almost every socio-economic indicator, development in Jammu and Kashmir was at its lowest. Due to widespread corruption, instead of becoming a tool of decentralized governance, article 370 rather led to the concentration of power in very few, depriving people of minimum development.

In contrast, in the very few months following the scrapping of Article 370 development seen can be termed extraordinary. The most positive aspect is that this has made the operationalization of almost 890 Central Acts as well as the Constitution in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir possible after seven decades.

The major among them are The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1954; The Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2014; The National Commission for Safai Karmacharis Act, 1993; the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2009; The National Commission of Minorities act; The Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009; Right to Information Act, 2005, etc.

Along with these structural changes, many indigenous inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir who were not recognized earlier have been given Citizenship rights now. Amongst them are around ten thousand civic employees, thousands of Dalits and other Tribal groups.

Similarly, the Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to migrate from their home and refugees from West Pakistan have been rehabilitated. The denial and suppression of democratic rights, equality, etc. which was perpetuated for the last seven decades in the name of a special provision of the Constitution is slowly getting uncovered in front of the eyes of the people of the country.

UDDIPTA HAZARIKA

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