The Indian government’s historic decision regarding the reorganization of the Jammu and Kashmir region (which nullifies Article 370 and Article 35A, temporary constitutional provisions made in 1954) received positive response from every corner – except two unnecessarily concerned neighbors which, despite putting a lot of effort into projecting an alarmist situation in the region and internationalizing an internal matter of India, stand isolated in international forums.
A trend of narrating the strong-willed decisions of the leaders of vibrant democracies with dictatorship grammar is quite common among some progressive thinkers, some of whom live outside their homelands (which are mostly authoritarian or military-led regimes) and frequently express their views on democratic societies like India and Israel. Their narrations often consciously ignore the historical facts about the root of the ideas of dictatorship and the origin of the notion of world domination, while smartly negating the present realities of places – which give safe shelters and launching pads to these very ideas.
It is the unfortunate irony of our time that several horrific accounts of the systematic murder, mass rape and selling of Yazidis women and children as sex slaves – terrible incidents of human right abuses and religious violence in Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir – failed to garner serious global attention; occasionally they have been the subject of academic discussions, bubble articles and conferences. It seems that in the curious hunt to find human rights issues in democratic environments, these real issues will never get the attention they deserve.
The entire Jammu and Kashmir region (including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin) holds a special place in the hearts of the people of India, and it is often referred to as the crown of the country.
India is marching fast toward the $5 trillion GDP mark, and in reaching this goal, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh will have an important role to play.
In his recent address to the nation, highlighting the unique trade and export potential of this region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “Whether it is the color of kesar or flavor of kahwa or sweetness of apple or juiciness of apricot; whether Kashmiri shawls or artifacts; organic products of Ladakh or herbal medicine of Jammu and Kashmir, all these need to be publicized in the whole of world.” He called upon the people associated with the industry, export and food processing sectors to ensure that local products of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh reach the whole world.
ON THE ONE hand, due to their natural beauty and picturesque locations, J&K and Ladakh are favored destinations for tourists across the world. On the other hand, the region has the potential of becoming one of the greatest centers of spiritual tourism, adventure tourism and ecotourism.
In India and abroad, Modi has the reputation of being a pioneering reformer. The impact of his development-centric approach and the policy reforms/initiatives that he introduced in the last 63 months is visible in the changing global status of India.
When it comes to working with states, Modi plays the role of an enabler and facilitator. His cooperative federalism and team-India spirit made some of the most complex state policy reforms successful. The Modi government has a balanced road map for the country’s growth, where its national ambitions and regional aspirations have a special place. The development of the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh region is crucial for both the dimensions.
Transformation of the newly formed Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh union territories (governed directly by the central government) into vibrant industrial hubs and investment destinations is a top priority of the Indian government, and the discussions for this massive transformation with all relevant stakeholders are already under way.
Key business leaders of the country have not only endorsed the decision of the abrogation of Article 370, but also supported the bifurcation of the state into two union territories, which is equally crucial for the all-around development of the region.
Modi has appealed to the private sector to invest and develop new employment opportunities for the youth of J&K and Ladakh.
In the recently held annual meeting of Reliance Industries, chairman Mukesh Ambani responded to the prime minister’s appeal, saying: “We stand committed to the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh in all their developmental needs.” Reliance Industries is going to create a special task force for the developmental activities in J&K and Ladakh and is planning to make many new announcements for both union territories.
Other leading business entities of India, including Adani Group, Mahindra Group, Kotak Group, RPG Enterprises, JSW Group, Motilal Oswal Group and Lodha Group, as well as all key industry bodies, hailed the government for demonstrating courage and strong political will in taking this historic move, expressing their desire to work collectively with the government for progress of the region. In the coming months, the Indian government is also going to host J&K’s first-ever global investor summit.
INDIA, the world’s largest democracy, is also home to the second-largest Muslim population on earth. Modi’s commitment to his “reform, perform and transform” mantra – regarding the principles of collective efforts and inclusive growth – and his dedication to international issues, earned him some significant international awards (UN Champions of the Earth and Seoul Peace Prize), including some prestigious awards from the Muslim-majority nations also. His growing respect in the Muslim world itself nullifies many false claims about his image as regularly presented in the left-oriented and Pakistan-supporting media.
An unusual culture of appeasement politics, which developed during the long rule of the Indian National Congress and the United Progressive Alliance – a coalition of the Left and Center-Left – was not compatible with the aspirations of New India, and Modi has put an end to it. Whether it’s demonetization, GST, the abolition of the evil practice of triple talaq (in the Muslim community) or the revocation of articles 370 and 35A, all these moves reflect Modi’s commitment to bringing change to the lives of 1.3 billion people.
Some compulsive critics are raising their voices about the temporary difficulties related to telephone and Internet communication currently being faced by the people of the region. But a state where terrorism killed more than 41,000 people from 1990 to 2018; where hundreds of thousands of natives called Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee from their homes; where women, children, employees, tribal and regional communities (Gujjars, Bakarwals, Gaddis, Sippies or Balties) were deprived of their most basic socioeconomic and political rights for decades; where poverty and joblessness were sky-high; and where common people were forced to live in 18th-century conditions, when the rest of India was talking about the ease of living and ease of doing business – inconvenience caused by some temporary communication restrictions and security arrangements should not be seen as an issue of relevance.
Several patriotic Indians, including the founding members of the BJP (the current ruling party of India), have lost their lives in fighting for the revocation of articles 370 and 35A, the temporary constitutional provisions which stayed in place for decades in the absence of a stable government and strong-willed leadership.
Many of India’s bright and innovative minds belong to the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh region. They have passion and strength to shape their future, and now they are ready to march hand in hand with New India – which is committed to their economic development and to offer them a future they deserve.
The writer promotes advanced technologies, start-up ecosystems and the Indian government’s business- and technology-related initiatives such as Digital India, Make in India, Smart Cities, Startup India.