The state has a respectable standing on most indicators
The recent imbroglio in Jammu and Kashmir over allocation of nearly 40 hectares for use during the annual Amarnath Yatra has generated much debate.
It has become customary to blame discrimination by the Centre or neglect by the rest of the country for the travails of J&K, more particularly that of Kashmir.But why are the Kashmiris hurt?
The first reason given is that polls in J&K were mostly rigged, barring only the recent one where that screaming lady’s scheming father could become the chief minister.
This argument is specious, for if rigging were indeed the reason, the first candidate to cede from India should be Bihar. A look at the newspapers of the seventies and eighties would reveal that the maximum number of people killed during any election was in Bihar.
Or take Bengal. Jyothi Basu could not have lost Baranagar to a CPI candidate but for rigging by Siddhartha’a Juba Congress boys. The CPM’s opponents say the party indulges in scientific rigging in every poll.
In Uttar Pradesh, Dalits in the western part of the state would tell you horror stories of rigging by Jats till the arrival of Seshan and BSP, in that order. But, nobody makes out a case for ceding from India on this ground.
The second grievance is regarding their socio-economic condition. Even that is far from true, considering J&K stands either in the top rung of states or in the middle in terms of any indicator one may take up.
Per capita consumption of electricity at 759 kwh (2006-2007) is much higher than in UP, MP, Rajasthan, Bihar and WB, etc (Rajya Sabha question no. 2908, April 21, 2008).
Per capita Central assistance at Rs 2,860 (in 2000) is much higher than other states, with TN at Rs 260, UP at Rs 385 and WB at Rs 426 and the all-India figure at Rs 395. If at all, it is the rest of India that should be hurt about it. Even total assistance of Rs 2,631 crore in 2000 was the highest among states (Rajya Sabha question no. 1370, August 3, 2000).
State-wise per capita allocation of kerosene in India (2006-2007) at 7.55 kg is much higher than most states with all-India average at 8.9 kg (Rajya Sabha question no. 158, December 1, 2007).
State-wise per capita availability of milk in India (2005-2006) at 353 gm per day is much higher than most states with the all-India average at 241 gm per day (Rajya Sabha question no. 1801, August 11, 2006).
State-wise per capita allocation for agriculture and rural development (2002-2003) at Rs 305 (Rs 245 and Rs 60) is much higher than most states including TN at Rs 188, AP at Rs 125 and Maharashtra Rs 202 (leave alone the BIMARU states), with the all-India average at Rs 152.(Lok Sabha question no. 4659, April 23, 2003).
State-wise per capita expenditure (current and capital) on health in India in 2001 at Rs 363 is much higher than most states with TN at Rs 170, AP Rs 146, UP Rs 83, WB Rs 206 and the national average at Rs 167 (Rajya Sabha question no. 756, July 28, 2003).
State-wise per-capita net state domestic product ay factor cost (constant prices) in 2005-2006 at Rs 8,308 is higher than all BIMARU states and also in the top quarter in India (RBI annual report 2006).
State-wise average monthly per capita consumption expenditure of farmers in India in 2003 at Rs 712 is the third-highest in India (next to Punjab at Rs 828 and Haryana at Rs 741) with the national average at Rs 502 (Rajya Sabha question no. 1759, December 8, 2005).
State-wise percentage of children under 3 years as undernourished on anthropometric indices (stunted, wasted and underweight) of nutritional status as per NFHS-III in India in 2005-06 was stunted (too short for age) at 28 and wasted (too thin for height) at 15 and underweight (too thin for age) at 29.4 is the lowest in India except Mizoram, Goa, Kerala and Sikkim, with the national average at 38 and 19 and 46, respectively.
The number of households living in predominant roof material of concrete/ GI metal and asbestos sheets at 63% is one of the highest in India (Housing profile Table H-3A Appendix Census 2001— J&K).
Location and source of drinking water shows that 75% of households have it within or in nearby premises and 53% are provided through tap, again one of the highest among states (Table H-8 Census of the state-J&K-Census 2001).
Distribution of households by source of Lighting reveals that 81% is served by electricity (rural 75% and urban 98%) and only 15% is dependent on kerosene. The level of electricity usage is the highest among states (Table H-9 Census of the state -Census 2001).
Firewood is used by 56% of households for cooking, followed by LPG by 22% and kerosene by 7%. (Table H-11 Census of the state 2001).
Around 47% of the households have both electricity and toilets (85% for urban households), much higher than many “developed” states. (Table -12A [E] Census of the state 2001)
Among the 1.6 million households in the state, 37% avail banking services, 65% have radio or transistor and 41% possess TV (Table H-13 Census of the state 2001).
Thus, any socio-economic indicator one looks at one finds that J&K is in the top quartile or percentile of states. Indeed, within the state, the Jammu region may be feeling somewhat neglected as it does not know how to blackmail the state apparatus.
Srinagar has an area of 2,228 sq km, while Jammu has 3,097 sq km with a population of 1.2 million and 1.6 million, respectively.
The credit-deposit ratio during 1996 was 61% for Srinagar district and 21% for Jammu district. (Basic Statistical Returns -Scheduled Commercial Banks in India —RBI -various issues). The CD ratio for Srinagar district was 96% during 2006, while as for Jammu district it was 32%.
In sharp contrast to J&K is Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) with a 13,297 sq km area and a population of 3.3 million. It had a growth rate of 2.4% last year and has not yet been fully rehabilitated from the devastating earthquake of 2005. It is in the lowest rung of Pakistan on most economic indicators.
For example, the loans disbursed by the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan for 2007 shows that the so called Azad Kashmir (POK) including Gilgit and FATA regions received Pak Rs 164 million out of a total disbursal of Rs 47,594 million for the whole country (Pakistan Year Book 2007). Indeed, if and when Kashmir apples are sent to Muzzafarabad, less than 100 apples can be sold there unless the government of India subsidises those apples to be sold in POK.
The last but most important point is that Kashmir valley is one of the places where the relatives of the dead terrorists get pension, thanks to some perversion in our policymaking. Now, who should be hurt by this?