A great and historic decision, the special status of Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370 has been removed. All its priveleges, exemptions and bars that prohibited trade and investment in the state have been removed.
The reaction to it, has been a mixed bag, some people are supporting it, while some, especially the local government of Kashmir and the officials of Pakistan have been completely in opposition of the same. Why is that so? What are the consequesnces & repurcusions this decision holds? In this article, I will discuss the point of view of both the factors in regard to this.
Article 370 in the Indian Constitution, in short, was a way that kept Kashmir connected to India. When it was made, this article provided a special status to Jammu and Kashmir and because of that Kashmir had:
1. Its own Constitution
2. Its own flag
3. Initially, the only power that Central Government held was in:
1. External Affairs
Corresponding Article 370, there was an Article 35A of the Constitution that defined Kashmir’s “Permanent Residency” – that no outsider could purchase in Kashmir:
Also, people from rest of the country cannot take a Government Job in the valley, and they were also not eligble for any Educational Scholarships
1. What happens to this situation after the recent amendment suggested by the Home Minister?
Technically, Article 370 has not been removed from the Constitution, rather, the Government has used this article’s clause to declare it null and void.
Clause 3 of Article 370 states that this article can cease to exist by declaring it null and void through a Presidential order which is to be let out ‘in consultation with the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir’, in other words, the President and the State Government can take a decision on this together, however, the recent condition in J&K, that is President’s Rule, has already dissolved the state government of J&K, the such control is already in the hands of Parliament of India, so the Parliament can take a decision with the President of India in this regard which is what happened. Along with Article 370, article 35A also ceases to exist which further dissolves the concepts like Permanent Residency, No separate Constitution, no separate flag, Rest of India can invest in land and property, can enjoy the benefit of educational subsidies and governmental jobs. However, this is not clear if these things will essentially follow after the amendment.
For instance, states like Himachal Pradesh, other North Eastern states still do not allow rest of India to invest in land and properties due to the reason of Enviromaental Protection and protection of local population’s interest.
The supporters of this decision justify this move by stating the condition in Kashmir will be better, they refer this decision as a bridge towards a ‘Win Win Situation’ for Kasmiris and Indians, This is because if the investment oppurtunities are open for all in Kashmir, the demand will go up and so will the price which will further lead to development in Kashmir, citizens in Kashmir will get more money if and when they lease out their lands to a larger market, companies will invest in Kashmir (as for an instance, Helmet manufacturer Steelbird has proposed an idea to set up a plant in Kashmir), there will be more and better eduational opportunities for students throughout the country, Governemt Jobs will be open to all.
All these factors will lead to an overall Economic Growth which will ultimately add to the GDP of the country.
Furthermore, if education rate, income capacity, infrastructure gets better in the state, the terrorism will automatically come down as less and less people will be prone to the possibility of the same.
This amendment would bring Kashmir under the jurisdiction of Indian Laws, so right to information, right to education will be available for the residents there.
It would also impact the residents of Kashmir psycologically, they would feel more integrated in the country as there will be one Constituiton, One Flag, One Country.
On the other hand, there are people who oppose this decision completely, their idea is simple, they claim that it is an illegal occupation and compare the same with Fascism. They also question the democratic nature of the country, in a first, they suggest that they were not asked for this development, neither them, nor the government.
Thousands of troops were established in, internet, landlines were jammed, politicians were kept under house arrest, people were locked inside the house and the government took the decision in isolation.
They compare it with dictatorship by stating that the state assembly of J&K was dissolved, President’s rule implemented, and there were no re elections held before taking this decision.
They also contend that it was unconstitutional as the whole process is based on a mere loophole, this view was supported by big political names including Mr. Prashant Bhushan. They also compare it with cheating as they contend that they disguised the arrival of army in the state as for the purpose of terror threats while the actual reason was the implementation of the amendment.
However, this argument has been countered by stating that if the people knew about this, it would have lead to major violent crimes, this is why troops were necessary. At the same time, the government was of the belief that discussions and debates would lead to no productive decision as can be seen in the previous 70 years.
It is also contended by the separatist that Kashmir has become an Indian Military Occupied State and problems will be caused in the United Nations and the World over all.
2. Jammu & Kashmir – A Union Territory
This amendment makes J&K a separate Union Territory and Ladakh another union territory, J&K initially had a special status and bringing it down to a status of a union territory makes this decision significant. The democracy level of a UT is way less than even a normal state as the control of the central government is very high as against the state government. Multiple conflicts between central and state government will now arise in the territory of J&K is what the people have stated.
In the light of above it is clear that the decision has more pros than cons, it is a bold move which will help J&K to develop and grow. However, the way it was done kills the concept of democracy in India and a long term impact would be hard to calculate especially if the people of Kashmir would personally not integrate with the country. Such decisions, though with good intentions, if kept on being imposed on the people, this would result in chaos and mismanagment of the country as a whole.
The opinion is that, had the decision was taken after giving due consideration to the people of Kashmir, or atleast the government there, it would have been proved to be of better effectiveness, however, this argument is countered by stating that ‘It might not have been possible to take this decision at all if all those factors were considered’.
Also, the decision of making J&K a union territory hampers the quality of democracy, if the government that is chosen by the people for the state is in conflict with the central government, it furthers negates and stalls development in a whole like it is seen in Delhi.
The prediction of the long term impact of the same is difficult, it might beautify the condition in Kashmir by developing it, or on the other hand it may further worsen it.
Once Kashmir starts to work like a normal state, the troops are taken back and once the normal functioning start, that’s when we get to know the actual impact and effect of the decision on Kashmir.