J&K: Out of Joints

J&K: Out of Joints

The ground reality as it exists in the State as a whole doesn’t make for a rosy picture.

How come the People’s Democratic Party of Jammu and Kashmir has come to give the impression that somehow it has chosen to play second fiddle to its coalition partner in Jammu and Kashmir, the Bharatiya Janata Partry. One would have imagined that to have the ruling party in New Delhi as the junior partner in the State would have worked to the PDP’s advantage. What one has noticed over the past many months that this is not so. I have referred in this space in the past, perhaps not so directly, the obstructionist role the Jammu BJP has played all along. 

BJP Ministers not attending Cabinet meetings and at least on one occasion I recall the BJP component of the Cabinet choosing to give the skip to one such meeting in the summer capital and instead meeting informally in Jammu, the winter capital. I am not nitpicking to prove a point. You have to be purblind to miss numerous such occasions, the most glaring  to my mind being a BJP Minister virtually undoing the Chief Minister’s writ duly followed by a sarkari notification issued on the Minister’s say so.

Mufti Sayeed is perhaps too big a man to be bothered by such trivia but to the average Kashmiri it has always  struck as odd. Mufti, for some reason seems to have chosen a broader canvas to paint his grand vision on. The BJP suffers from no such illusions. With covert support from the party bigwigs the state unit of the party is following a long term strategy with the objective clearly outlined. 

And the objective was markedly discernible in a free-wheeling chat on the State’s future between Karan Thapar and Dr Karan Singh, a former Governor of the State and the regent for a while after his father Maharaja Hari Singh’s departure from the State, was at his candid best. He, for instance, was certain that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution conferring special status to Jammu and Kashmir could no way be done away with. This formed the cornerstone of the State’s continuing relationship with the Union. 

He didn’t say it in so many words but it was clear he didn’t see much good coming out of attempts to open this can of worms. He was equally clear to assert that though his family were the rulers of the state then, he for one was a Dogra and not a Kashmiri. Again, he didn’t say it in so many words but he saw a possibility of a solution to the Kashmir tangle in the distinct units that constituted the present State of Jammu and Kashmir. His was a polite way of saying that this regional distinction may offer an ultimate opening in the State.

 Dr Singh is too sophisticated a man even to suggest that this did indeed form the core of Bhatartiya Janata Parties plans. Which simply put would mean abolition of Article 370 and the creation of three separate entities comprising Kashmir, Ladakh and Jammu. Good-bye to polemics. 

The  ground reality as it exists  in the State as a whole doesn’t make for a rosy picture. I was pleasantly surprised the other day when someone brought to my notice refreshing figures about the mushroom-like growth of manufacturing (not talking tanks nor aircraft) units in distant parts of Jammu province and some of these manufacturing sophisticated drugs under licence from foreign pharmaceuticals firms.

How come similar entrepreneurship is not visible in the valley. I find it disappointing that the entire emphasis of the valley’s plans to grow should be confined to just promotion of tourism. Yes, tourism plays a major part in the lives of people living in the valley. But tourism and that includes sale of handicrafts etc constitutes a meager 11 per cent of the State’s economy. 

Why doesn’t the State promote setting up of smaller production units in the valley, emulating the people in Jammu. Such units don’t need large financial outlays. The drug manufacturing units like the ones in Jammu could be an impetus. The State government can directly step in to help young, educated entrepreneurs to make a start. 

Frankly, what changed the course of this particular piece, the casual look I had in my hospital bed at some of the drugs prescribed by doctors to me. It was then  I got the happy tidings about Jammu’s growing small to medium drug manufacturing units supplying pricey medication to the rest of the country. And these are expensive medicines manufactured under license. My further queries led to my discovering a whole range of goodies the enterprising Jammuites are manufacturing. 

Will return to the unfinished theme I started this piece with.