After the stay at Kashmir, as soon as the flight from Srinagar took off over the valley, I remembered my trip to Indonesia two and a half years ago.
After my lecture on Indian culture in Surgeoniversity University Yogayakarta Indonesia, a student asked how the people of India accommodated the world's second largest Muslim population and various other religions in a constantly changing global environment stricken by mutual disharmony and terror. I replied right away that the idea of India does not need to make any special efforts for this.
Our eternal, immortal Indian culture, which has been existing since ages, binds us in values like unity, harmony, cooperation, brotherhood, truth, non-violence, renunciation, humility, equality, etc. and motivates us to move ahead with the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.
This has been going on for centuries and continues even today. I told them how India inhabiting a population of 1.25 billion is not a country but a whole subcontinent, where different customs and traditions in different parts are practised. This unique philosophy of diversity rarely seen in any other region of the world as it is in India.
Here in India, our dialect changes every 50 miles. You travel a couple of hundreds of miles and you see a squarely different guise and language, and when you go 1000 miles away, the whole lifestyle looks different.
I explained to them how, being followers of different religions, we are proud to be Indians primarily. Today, when I have returned from Kashmir after a short stay of two days, my perception has grown stronger. I feel with all sincerity that I perceived it right. It was very clear after seeing students, teachers, delegations and common people from Kashmir that everyone in the valley is in favour of peace.
Everyone wants a better future for their children and nobody wants to live under the shadow of fear. People want a promising future, a prosperous Kashmir.
I witnessed Kashmir’s tolerance and pluralism in Srinagar where it has been enshrined in the shape of an ancient Shankaracharya temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located at a height of 300 meters above sea level near the hundreds of years old Dal Lake in an area where Muslims are in majority. The reformist foresight of our PM towards a bright future of Kashmir is reflected very clear.
The government has promised holistic development so that Jammu-Kashmir can be re-built as per the aspirations of Kashmiri people living as various communities like Dogra, Kashmiri Pandits, Ladakh people, Sikhs and Christians living as well as various Kashmiri Muslim communities like Sunni, Shia, Gujjar, Barkarwal and Pahari.
I have always believed that the entire Himalayan region is rich in a variety of resources apart from amazing human resources. People here are innocent and hard-working. If appropriate planning and dedicated efforts are made, development can be brought on the ground in letter and spirit. If the basic problems in education, health, employment are resolved, the valley will prosper in peace.
Socio economic change can begin a new era in the Valley. Since the partition of India in 1947, the political history of Jammu and Kashmir has been in turmoil and throughout this interval the future of Jammu-Kashmir has been hanging in the balance. I have been of the view that Article 370 barely helped with special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, rather it isolated J&K from mainstream of development.
Embracing Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee's policy of ‘one legislation, one head, one mark’, the Union Government led by Prime Minister Modi on August 5, 2019, made historic decisions to abandon the Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution and decided to reorganise the state of Jammu and Kashmir, by splitting it into two union territories w.e.f. October 31, 2019.
Though scrapping Article 370 might have withdrawn a nominal autonomy from Jammu and Kashmir but it is going to open the new doors of development and will enable people to get rid of terror spread across the region.
Under Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019 passed by the Parliament, Jammu and Kashmir became a Union Territory with a Legislative Assembly and while on the other hand Ladakh has become a Union Territory without a Legislative Assembly. In fact, the current Central Government felt that for the last seven decades in Kashmir there was no development anywhere.
Unfortunately a specific class considering itself as ‘elite’ in our country, set an intimidating narrative that it was impossible to remove 370 or 35A in India and warned that if it is attempted, the unity of the country will be endangered. But in the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, the way the whole country was mobilised and did this important task of scrapping this article, has brought great glory to India.
Some selfish elements not only defamed Kashmir but also ruined it. These anti-national forces have obstructed the development of the entire region by confusing the innocent Kashmiri youth with an atmosphere of chaos and violence.
Today, there is an honest attempt to create an environment of peace and goodwill in Kashmir, so that the vision of creation of new Jammu and Kashmir can be realised.
Last week, 45 projects of school, colleges and universities were inaugurated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, which includes several other projects for upgrading the education system in addition to a 2-day teacher training program called NISHTHA. The Srinagar campus of the Indian Institute of Management, Jammu was inaugurated and 51 crore approved to operationalise this temporary campus by 15 March 2020.
I called upon the scientists of Himalayan region universities to conduct research on the challenges of Himalayas by promoting the interdisciplinary research.
Arts, Culture and Traditional Knowledge, Environmental Sciences and Himalayan, Horticulture Agriculture and Flora, Green Technologies, Geology, Disaster Planning and Reduction, Renewable Energy, Electronics IT and Biotechnology can all work together. There is a need to
develop a new culture of research.
The development of the Himalayas has been close to the heart of the Prime Minister, which is reflected from time to time by his taxes and statements.
Prime Minister led by the entire Government of Jammu and Kashmir is now moving towards peace, prosperity and development. In the Budget 2020, the Modi government has made a generous allocation for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. For the overall development of the region, announced Rs.30,757 crore for Jammu and Kashmir and Rs. 5,958 for Ladakh.
The government is working for the development of Kashmir with all its might. The Prime Minister said in the Lok Sabha that “together with the new India, we should build a new Jammu and Kashmir and a new Ladakh”.
The Prime Minister further called upon the people of Jammu-Kashmir - “Let us all together show the world how strong the people of this region are, and what strong passion and courage, the people have.”
We are fortunate that India is respected across the world for its strong leadership. India's reputation has grown up considerably than ever before. In this scenario Pakistan has raised this issue of neutralizing Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on the world forum to the limits of its potential. But, in response, it got mere embarrassment. When the historic decision taken by the Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi of repealing Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, there was a festive atmosphere all over the country. But Pakistan is not happy with this. Why would it be !! It is difficult for Pakistan to digest the fact that this 7 decades old dispute of Kashmir has been peacefully resolved.
After failing at every front, helpless Pakistan, kept threatening in the name of United Nations. In fact, Pakistan has created all obstacles to progress and prosperity in the region ever since it came into existence.
Keeping Kashmir a burning issue, Pakistan’s use of terrorism as a political tool, it fits in its strategy in every respect. It is a country whose identity is marked by terrorist activities all over the world and who has been exposed for harbouring Osama in his last days. That is why it opposes the scrapping of Article 370.
The Prime Minister has a vision for the overall development of Jammu and Kashmir. This vision engrosses self-reliance, development, industrial revolution and the idea of employment generation and prosperity. According to president of the Federation of Industries and Commerce Sheikh Ashique, “If we succeed in solving the problem of unemployment in the state, then 95 percent of Kashmir
problem will be resolved.”
Our government aims to strengthen the economy of the state which is dependent on agriculture and services. All efforts are being made to develop the core of the state’s industry tourism, handicrafts, sericulture, handloom, horticulture, food processing and agriculture. Our effort is to reduce the average unemployment rate of 15 percent.
I myself believe that we can create an environment of peace, prosperity, harmony, love, brotherhood and happiness in the region only by bringing back the era of progress in this state.
The government is committed to the overall growth of Jammu and Kashmir through a number of steps of development. We may hope that through our efforts we will be able to write the fresh script of peace and prosperity in the UT.