Calling for a collective and concerted effort to address the socio-economic concerns of the State's youth and to contain the increasing alienation, J&K Governor N N Vohra today said the Legislature shall have to take a lead to jointly find ways in which the new generation will be the vanguard for reducing the political, ethnic, regional, and ideological differences which have adversely affected the substance and nature of the political discourse in the State. The Governor also called for working towards the resolution of conflicts, within the civil society and in the polity.
The Governor maintained that Jammu & Kashmir has a very high potential for being developed to be among the leading States in the country. To achieve our goals we need to resolve all our disagreements, such as they may be, work collectively and strive very hard to put our State on the path of rapid development on all fronts, he said.
"I call upon this august House to play a leading role to establish it as a very strong institution of functioning democracy in the State. The disturbances and violent conflicts which we have gone through have engendered a worrisome decline in our social norms, relations and hierarchies and standards of political discourse. These regressive changes need to be addressed and reversed and the political agenda, the economic roadmap and the social framework must all emanate from here," the Governor said in his address to the joint sitting of the State Legislature here today at the beginning of the Budget Session 2017-18.
The Governor said that it is in the larger interest of the State and its people to urgently embark on the mission of protecting the psyche of the future generation from being fractured by the unprecedented civil strife, political disruption and chaos, while enormous progress is taking place in other parts of our country. "No responsible society can afford to stand by and see the alienation of its youth. Let us not forget that our young people, aged from 15 to 30 years, account for around 40 per cent of our total population," he said and added that the Government particularly needs to address the matters which concern the youth and, in this direction, it must not forget that the new generation is faced with fears and challenges of economic insecurity and uncertainty which lead them to turn inwards and pursue negative approaches.
"A worrying concern is that the younger generation, especially in the Valley, is less engaged civically, exhibits less social trust and confidence and, consequently, have a weaker commitment to the inherited value systems," Vohra said adding that addressing this serious issue has to receive very high priority and we need to urgently go forward to engage the youth.
He said to begin with, youth need to get involved in societal and civil issues and problems. "Also, to enable the political executive to effectively address varied serious challenges the new generation must start actively participating in the socio-economic developmental programmes and processes, as this will, hopefully, lead to the evolution of fresh ideologies and political participation," he said and added that it is imperative that we work towards the resolution of conflicts, first within our civil society and then in the polity. "While it is important that the Info-Pak dialogue gets resumed early, it is equally important that conversations happen within families, across villages, in towns and cities to build a social and moral consensus so that a congenial atmosphere is created for the government to take the required initiatives for securing peace and development," he said.
"Our greatest intellectual challenge is to find a new ideological consensus based on our past history and heritage. This is important for enabling meaningful contributions by the mainstream polity and for the protection and survival of our social moorings. What has been happening on the streets in the past months in Kashmir is a manifestation of our political problems which have affected our socio-moral moorings and the societal order," he said and added that the new political discourse has to move away from being exclusivist to be effectively inclusive. Such an agenda will help reduce and eradicate apathy and cynicism towards the resolution of the varied conflicts which affect us. "Unless we act with determination senseless violence may become a way of life and ruin our future," the Governor cautioned.
On Summer Unrest:
He said the loss of lives in the past six months is most unfortunate and regrettable. "The irreparable pain of losing someone we love is not unknown to us. While the political rhetoric may result in keeping us at odds, our grief brings us together – whether of a mother who has lost her young soldier son on duty at the line of control or of a mother whose child has been killed by a tear gas shell or blinded by pellets," Vohra said adding that we must accept that, for one or the other reason, all of us are to blame – parents, protesters, politicians and the law enforcers. "We must introspect seriously and identify what we should or could have done better or differently, even though this will not give life to those we have lost," he said adding; "We must admit our shortcomings and lift ourselves out from the unfortunate syndrome that has involved us in a cycle of violence which has affected almost every arena of activity. While hundreds were injured, civilians, police and paramilitary forces personnel lost their lives. I share the grief of all the families who have lost their loved ones and pray for the early recovery of all those who were injured. I also sympathize with the very large number of families who have had to leave their hearth and homes in the aftermath of the increased incidents of cease-fire violations".
The Governor said that the events of the last six months in Kashmir have particularly affected the educational sector and caused irreparable damage to the academic careers of lakhs of young men and women. "Damaging and torching of scores of school buildings has marked the nadir. This is most shockingly shameful. We have now got to attacking the future of our children," he said adding that with the firm resolve and tireless efforts of the police and security forces, the law and order situation is gradually getting back to normalcy in Kashmir. "For safeguarding life and public property, while maintaining public order, the police and security forces have been exercising extreme restraint, despite grave provocations," he said.
The Governor said it is to be recognized that the development process received a major setback and governance has been impaired during the past months of unrest in Kashmir. "Notwithstanding this, it is notable that throughout this period of turmoil, the Essential Services remained functional. There was no disruption in power, water supply or civil supplies. The administration also ensured adequate supplies of rations, milk, vegetables, sugar, timber, LPG and gasoline. The Health Services also functioned round the clock. We thank our doctors, engineers and all other staff who kept these systems going. It is also noteworthy that various all India level competitive examinations- NEET, CET, Civil Services examination, and the annual Board Examinations- were conducted as scheduled across the state. For this we owe special thanks to all the teachers and the concerned functionaries," he said.
On Panchayat Elections:
The Governor said that the unrest in the past months in Kashmir has seriously hampered and retarded the peace, developmental and democratic processes and the environment was not conducive for elections to the rural and urban local self governing bodies. "However, the State Government is fully committed to holding of Panchayat elections by March 2017 and proceeding to establish the three-tier Panchayati Raj institutional framework," he said and added that following upon the conduct of Panchayati Raj elections the Government is committed to conduct the long pending elections to the Urban Local Bodies as well.
On Cross-LoC CBMs:
Vohra said that despite recent disturbances on the borders, cross-LOC Trade has continued unabated and upto end of March 2016, at an aggregate, this trade has recorded import worth about Rs 4000 crore of Pakistani currency and export worth about Rs 2600 crore of Indian currency. "A list of 21 more tradeable items has been submitted to the Government of India for taking up this matter with the Government of Pakistan," he said adding that the confidence building measures of opening additional trade routes is being pursued. "The state government is discussing with the Union Home Ministry the opening of four new routes this year which include: Jammu-Sialkot; Chhamb Jourian – Mirpur; Gurez-Astoor-Gilgit; and Jhanger (Nowshera)-Mirpur. The opening of three other routes viz Kargil-Skardu, Turtuk-Khapulu, and Titwal-Chilhan (across the Neelam Valley) are also being explored," he said.
On SARFAESI Act:
Vohra said that some concerns have been expressed about the recent Supreme Court Judgment on the applicability of SARFEASI. To put all speculative and ill intended interpretations to rest, the true position is that even if Banks sell immovable mortgaged assets, they can do so only to state subjects. To facilitate the creation of a market for distressed assets of state subjects, the Government has already put into motion the formation of an Asset Reconstruction Company in partnership with the J&K Bank.
Vohra said to extend monetary support to Displaced Persons of PoK (1947) as well as the Displaced Persons of Chhamb (1965 and 1971), an immediate settlement at the rate of Rs. 5.50 lakh has been provided in favour of each of the 36384 families who have been found eligible through the laid down procedure.
Vohra said yet another issue that is being played up is the issue of West Pakistan Refugees. As a part of the Agenda of Alliance, it was decided to sympathetically deal with this humanitarian issue. The State Government has facilitated their identification to enable them to get work in the paramilitary forces and other central government establishments. This identification does not change the status of the West Pakistan Refugees; they continue to be non-state subjects.
"Another misplaced apprehension being created in the minds of the business community is with regard to the application of GST in the state. It is my Government's decision to enact the required legislation, and implement other required arrangements, keeping in view the best interests of the State."
On Power Sector:
He said in a major thrust to hydro power generation, Sawalakote project has been cleared by the Central Electricity Authority as also Kirthai-II and Kiru . The Government's main focus now is to implement up-gradation of transmission and distribution networks on a time-bound basis, under varied projects like R-APDRP, DDUGJY, IPDS and Rs 4000 crore has been provided under PMDP. The Srinagar-Leh transmission line is under execution at a cost of Rs.1788.00 crore.