Scripting a new chapter in the Kashmir story

It is now a new chapter of growth and prosperity with Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas
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Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar

The leaves of Chinar narrate a tale of national crisis, humanitarian calamity, political impediment, and the eventual restoration of order in Jammu and Kashmir. On August 5, 2019, when Union Home Minister Amit Shah had risen in the parliament to propose abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, it marked a historical rectification that laid down the path of peace and prosperity for generations to come. At the same time, people on the internet were quick to point out an old photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from his early days as a dedicated karyakarta of the party sitting in front of a banner that had slogans demanding the abrogation of Article 370. It was a testament to the commitment of the Prime Minister to strengthening the unity and sovereignty of the nation. The process of India’s unification, which was initiated by Sardar Vallabhai Patel and for which Shyam Prasad Mukherjee sacrificed his life, reached its fruition under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi. 

The apologists of the previous establishment were quick to criticize the government and levied baseless allegations. Far from reality, it was a deep-rooted frustration of the political beneficiaries who had encashed the conflict in the valley and were afraid that they could no longer keep the region hostage to secure their personal interests. It was due to the appeasement policy of successive governments that these separatists and political middlemen became the self-proclaimed voice of the local Kashmiris. They tried every trick in the book to alienate them from the rest of India and prevent all attempts at bridging that gap. Along with that, they kept India pushing into futile diplomacy, "Aman Ki Asha", with our hostile neighbor. Thankfully, due to the resolute policy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we have openly stated that talks and terror can’t go hand in hand.

While the critics hoped for a law and order crisis to erupt post-abrogation of Article 370, on the contrary, the now-union territory witnessed unprecedented calm and normalcy. The law and order system functioned smoothly as people welcomed the move. There can’t be more emotive evidence of this fact than the smiling faces of children carrying their bags as they head to school. Consequently, the beaming ray of hope has touched the imagination of business owners who now engage in economic activity fearlessly, along with young innovators who are keen to explore the world of startups and entrepreneurship. There are at least 500 recognized startups in the state, with the number increasing from two in 2016 to 159 last year. Recently, the valley gave another propitious sign of shedding the past of radicalization as film theaters, which had been shut down due to threats from extremist elements, opened to a full house in the region after decades. With the return of peace, the tourist inflow saw an unprecedented upsurge, as the valley hosted around 1.8 crore tourists in a single year (2022).

The Central Government's success in strengthening the security apparatus led to an 84% decline in terror incidents from 2006-13 to 2019-21. At the same time, there used to be a serious issue with youth’s involvement in stone pelting. Studies showed that the majority of those involved were from poor socio-economic backgrounds that were being entrapped by separatist elements into targeting security personnel. To address the socio-political grievance is pertinent for the administration; therefore, under the Prime Minister's Development Package (PMDP), 53 projects worth Rs 58,477 crore are being implemented in Jammu and Kashmir in various sectors like roads, power, health, education, tourism, agriculture, and skill development. Along with that, the introduction of the Khelo India Winter Games at Gulmarg, where 1500 athletes from across the nation participated, generated interest among the youth for productive endeavours.

Since the introduction of the J&K Industrial Policy, 2021, investments worth Rs. 1924.64 crore (up to January 2023) have been implemented. The investment during the current financial year is the highest ever compared to any previous financial year.

For decades, the common Kashmiris had no access to Central Government schemes like Har Ghar Jal, Har Ghar Bijli, Har Ghar Sauchalay, etc. Today, there is 100% saturation in 17 Individual beneficiary-centric welfare schemes. This is a reflection of the ‘Naya Kashmir’ that Shri Narendra Modi has envisioned. He had promised the people of Jammu and Kashmir that all 77 of his ministers would work for their welfare instead of just a few feudal families in the past. I am glad to share that the near extinct Namda craft of Kashmir has found a new lease of life under Skill India’s Pilot Project, and the first batch of exports of Namda products to the United Kingdom was flagged off by me recently. The project, which was announced during my first visit to the valley as Minister in 2021, is part of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) and has nearly 2,200 candidates from across six districts of the state receiving training in the art form.

I have personally visited the state several times and have been witness to the changes. PM Narendra modi ji has moved the needle in J&K very far from the last 70 years. The Government is enabling the youth of J&K to dream and aspire more. As our Prime Minister says, "Hum Dilli ki doori bhi mitana chahte hain aur dil ki doori bhi (We want to reduce the distance with Delhi and also the distance between hearts), our endeavour is to ensure that the young people of Jammu and Kashmir do not face the hardships that their parents and grandparents had to live with. Kashmir was a story of lost opportunities amidst exploitation by the Nehru-Gandhi-Abdullah-Mufti dynasties for over 70 years. It is now scripting a new chapter of growth and prosperity with Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas.

Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Electronics & IT

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