WHAT IS FUELLING YOUTH UNREST IN KASHMIR

Though the Indian government has been successful in establishing a transparent electoral process in Jammu & Kashmir, the governance deficit that was the most needed currency to integrate the mindset prevailing in the Valley has not happened. People needed development after years of Pakistan sponsored militancy. People needed jobs. And people needed a government that sounded and acted caring enough on these basic needs of life. Figures show the process has failed to take off.

In 2004, the Central Government had announced a package of Rs. 24,000 Crore for J&K reconstruction. The main emphasis was to be on employment generation and infrastructure development. Of these Rs. 24000 crore, only Rs. 7800 crore have been released so far and just half of the projects announced have been completed (and it is 12 years already!).

Udaan, a Central Government initiative, was extended to J&K in 2012 with aims to train and employ some 40,000 Kashmiri youths. The state has been able to reach out to just 8000 youngsters so far. Also, there have been reports that the Kashmir youth is not interested in low paying jobs being offered.

J&K’s unemployment rate is 5.3 percent. According to an NSSO report released this February, India’s urban unemployment rate was 3.4 percent while the figure for the rural India stood at 1.7 percent. This gap tells tales especially when we see that J&K drags on its growth figures – some 2.5 percent lower than the national average.

That is a real worry for a state where 70 percent of its 12 million population is below the age of 31, i.e., 8.4 million. Reports say as much as 7,00,000 of the working age youths are unemployed in the Valley. A report by Mercy Corps, a US based agency, scales up the unemployment figures in the Valley to as high as 48 percent. And why it becomes the root cause of periodic cycles of unrest, triggered by the developments like Burhan Wani’s encounter killing or death of civilians by the security forces, becomes clear by the fact that the Valley has around 30,000 militants roaming in the society. They are either out on bail or have served their terms.

The huge pool of the unemployed youth is a goldmine for them to harness and that is what they are doing, especially after the tough measures adopted by the security forces that have significantly reduced the infiltration from across the border, and thus the availability of the foreign militants. Pakistan and the terror handlers based there now have adopted the strategy to recruit local youth and the ongoing unrest over Burhan Wani’s killing would only serve their purpose.

The government of India needs to crack down here. It needs to establish its connect with the Kashmiri youth in order to disconnect them from the radicalizing machinery of terror handlers like Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin. How can the government of India do that?

Make them more invested in India’s future. Make their dependence on India mutual. Create the atmosphere where they can look up to – for jobs, for future security – let them feel for Delhi in the same way as they feel for Srinagar. Motivate them to fan out of J&K for their career prospects. Give them inspirational stories like Shah Faesal, the 2009 IAS topper. Don’t single them out if they become over expressive at times like Shah has been in the recent unrest episode. See it in the context that 10 candidates from J&K have cracked the civil services examination this year. Even the 55 vacancies of the Indian Army last year attracted over 20,000 youths to the recruitment centre. So, there is a need and you need to be there to cater to it – in order to win them.

The Hizbul Mujahideen led terrorism that began in 1989 has killed some 90,000 people in the Valley. The terrorism years built on exploiting the secessionist sentiments of the so-called separatists that was basically fuelled from Pakistan with its state actors like ISI and various terror handlers acting as proxies. Now that we are in an effective situation to keep an effective check on these activities – India can effectively deny the terror handlers and Pakistan the local, physical access to the Valley – we need to begin on a process of reconciliation. And the primacy of that lies in ignoring “who did what”. Don’t we know that “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”?

After 27 years, it’s a new generation in J&K now – and the population is youth driven. Its concerns would be entirely different from the generation that helped build the wave of militancy in the Valley, a generation that cannot be expected to show their kids the right way – the path to reconciliation with India. It has left the Valley youth alienated. They don’t know where to go. If they have to look up to someone, they have figures like Salahuddin whose family is comfortably settled in J&K with its members in government jobs or Burhan Wani’s father, a school teacher. They are fighting the state while living off its perks. So, it’s all muddled up.

The government needs to exploit those concerns first – the primary concerns of the youth we all know – jobs, career and future security. Give them avenues for these faster than the separatists reach out to them to radicalize. Take care of the aspirations of this generation and J&K is yours as any other Indian state is. The Indian security forces are now capable enough to guards its borders effectively so AFSPA can safely be removed from the internal parts of the state.

It’s like who will take the first step first – and Delhi should take the first step as a big brother. It will go a long way in patching things up. If Pakistan can ratchet up its propaganda machinery, why can’t we match it up, why can’t we overdo it? Prime minister Narendra Modi has announced an ambitious package of Rs. 80,000 crore for J&K but he needs to ensure that it reaches out to the intended beneficiaries and reaches out fast. Of the Rs. 80,000 crore announced, the state is expected to get Rs. 6,000 crore this year. Both the governments, at the Centre and in Srinagar, need to see that they take the immediate measures to sooth the nerves and development is the best diversion for it. And while doing so, they need to act tough to check out the leakages and official corruption that the state saw in the relief and rescue operations in the aftermath of the devastating 2014 floods that plagued the whole operation.

©SantoshChaubey

KASHMIRIS NEED TO PRIORITIZE PRAGMATICALLY

While watching Haider on television, the logical, commonsense thoughts on situations in Jammu & Kashmir (or largely Kashmir because terrorism emanates from there) came to me once again.

If we talk of the film-craft, the film, ‘Haider’, is one of the best movies made on the Valley (Kashmir). Yes, it has many debatable points and people on both sides of the spectrum, pro and anti India, debated it when the movie was released last year, but the last scene gives us all a message (including the people from the Valley) that should be a valid referral point for them to go back to the days of peace.

The message is – revenge begets more revenge and it doesn’t work for anyone.

People of the Valley need to think it – within the ambit of the realpolitik of the day. The relevant points accordingly are:

First and foremost point is – and the factual point is – India is not going to cede any ground on Kashmir issue.

India’s is among the world’s largest economies. It is also currently the world’s fastest growing economy and is slated to remain so as China slows down. The country is the world’s largest democracy and globally a powerful country now. On global stage, India has a much bigger stature than Pakistan and the gap is bound to widen in the days to come as Pakistan is trapped in the deadlocks of home-grown terrorists who were once important tools of its state policy. Many reports including the one recently by the US Congressional research say so.

Also, the whole J&K state is strategically vital to the Indian interests in the context of its historical rivalry with China and India will never compromise here.

The next point is – India of the day and future cannot be forced militarily by a proxy war or by armed militancy to let Kashmir go away from its territory. And it is to be seen in the context that every such effort, including the full-scale wars between India and Pakistan, has failed to deter India so far.

Proxy armed war can be waged against India but its strong Army and paramilitary forces, with their heavy presence in J&K, cannot be frustrated to the extent to leave the Valley, or to compromise on the issue.

Instead, people of the Valley have been facing collateral damages for decades. Their trust and they have been misused by separatists, extremists, militants and Pakistan. They need to see the elements behind the reasons that made Kashmir ‘a heaven, a paradise on Earth’ even before insurgency started engulfing it in late 1980s.

So far, if not all Kashmiris, a sizeable chunk has failed to see through the designs of separatists, militants and Pakistan, the ongoing phase of militancy in the Valley tells us. If the separatists still draw political sanction there, it is because they feel there would be people to support them.

Kashmiris need to prioritize pragmatically.

Kashmiris need to think pragmatically that security of their future lies in them remaining in India, a nation with as many Muslim as Pakistan but where ‘Al Qaeda’ finds no recruits as the BBC says or a magazine like ‘The Economist’ deliberates that ‘ why India’s Muslims are so moderate’.

India is a large country with a large market that the world is eyeing for and Pakistan can never be a match to it. It has a sizeable middle class that is projected to be the world’s largest by 2030, a Harvard study says.

People of Kashmir need to think of a life they will get in Indian Kashmir if they decide to grow with India, if they take side of the peaceful days as were in the Valley’s past.

Even now, they have everything available on a better scale if they see the people’s lives in ‘Azad Kashmir’ or practically, in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Even if the Valley is ‘promoted’ as a ‘disturbed area’ on global forums, its separatists freely criticise India and favour Pakistan. Pakistani flags are waved during rallies and demonstrations. Indian security forces are openly demonized.

The state has its own constitution. People from other parts of India cannot buy property in the state. People of the Valley should think of a day when a strong government of a strong India will remove Article 370 and will push the state into the mainstream of the Indian Constitution. They should think of a day when people from other parts of the country will get rights to settle in J&K. That is a way to culturally integrate the state aimed at strengthening the pro-India voices. If China can do it in Tibet, why not India can do it J&K?

Also, people of J&K need to see and emulate other Indian states on the road to prosperity. Many of them have Muslim population much larger than the Valley. These states are very well the part of the Indian federal system.

Yes, Indian government in Delhi and Indian forces in the state have their share of controversies and high-handedness, but the solution of the problems affecting lives of the people of J&K (especially Kashmir) lies in the realpolitik of the Valley which goes with the rider that ‘Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AND THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 2013 GOES TO MANMOHAN SINGH

FOR HIS PEACE INITIATIVE WITH PAKISTAN

Friday, October 11, 2013: In a development that has shocked the world community including many in India but has pleasantly stunned Mr. Manmohan Singh, Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, has announced the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize goes to the career bureaucrat, who also happens to be India’s Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.

The prime minster’s office at the 7RCR in Delhi has opened multiple lines of communication to receive the greeting calls from the ordinary citizens in a bid to cash the announcement for the electoral mileage at an electorally tough time for the Congress party, the largest party of the ruling coalition, the United Progressive Alliance. But it’s been hours and the response has been muted like the muted reaction of the political opponents of the UPA and the Congress party.

While Manmohan Singh was elated beyond words and asked us to wait for his worded response, the Congress party said it was a testimony to what the UPA government has been doing for India.

Excerpts from the Norwegian Nobel Committee press-release read:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 is to be awarded to Dr. Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India, the world’s largest democracy. If a democracy like India is somehow functional, it is due to the hard-work of the likes of Dr. Singh. India is a rapidly developing global superpower due to its large market size and impressive growth rate over the last two decade barring the last few years. With changing times, it becomes imperative for the country, an emerging superpower, to play a major role in the global peace-keeping process and what could be the better beginning than establishing peace at the controversial India-Pakistan border.

Dr. Singh, for the past 10 years, has been relentlessly working to maintain peace in one of the world’s most hostile region, Jammu & Kashmir, the South Asian patch of land claimed and shared by both the neighbouring countries, India and Pakistan.

In announcing this Peace Prize to Dr. Singh, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is driven by the similar intent and sentiments that it had while announcing the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Barack Obama, the serving US President and one of the great motivators of the Indian prime minister.

The decision to award the Peace Prize to Mr. Obama was based not on his achievements but on the ‘promising hopes’ he had raised with his journey to become the elected President of the USA, an inspiring journey then, with his ‘yes, we can’ promise.

Dr. Singh also raises hopes that the process of building peace in one of the world’s most hostile regions that can have serious implication for the global stability, Jammu & Kashmir, continues, even if it means drawing intense criticism back home. In fact, Dr. Singh’s achievements become even more credible when we see what compromises he had to make to continue with his peace-initiative with Pakistan.

He had to tolerate the bullying of Pakistan. His country is still being victimized by the continued acts of state-sponsored terrorism by Pakistan in many parts of India including Jammu & Kashmir. Had it been with any other leader, we could never have thought of the India-Pakistan peace process coming back to the dialogue table so early and that too, with the continued backstabbing acts of Pakistan, as Dr. Singh did during the United Nations General Assembly session last month. On this count, Dr. Singh outdoes even his motivator, Mr. Obama. Recently, Mr. Obama cancelled summit talk with Mr. Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, after Russia gave asylum to Mr. Edward Snowden, whom the US alleges of compromising the national security by leaking classified information.

Also, Dr. Singh had to face intense criticism in his country when he decided to resume summit dialogue with his Pakistani counterpart. It was in addition to the problems he was facing on internal political front owing to the multiple corruption allegations against his government and a slowing economy. That could have easily weakened anyone’s resolve to bow to the domestic pressure in the country to not withdraw from any dialogue with Pakistan at this stage.

But, Dr. Singh showed he was a man of intent. In spite of criticisms and allegations, he went ahead and held the meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, on the sidelines of the UNGA.

Like his domestic problems, nothing promising can be said about the India-Pakistan peace initiative spearheaded single-handedly by Dr. Singh but as mentioned earlier, the decision by the Norwegian Nobel Committee has been taken keeping in view the prospects of the peace-initiative and not its outcome. Peace between India and Pakistan, and its economic returns, would inspire other South Asian countries and hence the world to weigh their options and policies again. If South Asia could become a peace haven, it would be a boon for the world. Hosting three hugely populous countries with around 1500 million of population, the region could become a hue market, an economic powerhouse for the world, bringing prosperity to the world in a globalized economy.

For 112 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to promote a global environment of peace and prosperity and the Committee endorses Dr. Singh’s efforts to contribute to this never-ending process.

Oslo, October 11, 2013

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/