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Jammu and Kashmir New Dispensation Aspirations

Monday, 24th February 2020
The Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir Justice Gita Mittal, in the middle. To her left is HE the Ambassador and Head of Mission of the Republic of Guinea to New Delhi; and to her right is Uganda's Head of Mission

Uganda High Commission was, in mid-February, one of the Missions which saw first-hand the positive developments which are taking place in Jammu and Kashmir. During a two-day visit to this newly created Union Territory of India, the Ugandan High Commissioner, like a large group of other foreign envoys accredited to New Delhi, met the Lt Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, had a lively interactive audience with the its Chief Justice and received a detailed brief of Government programmes in this part of India by the Interim Head of the new civil service. Created only four months earlier by an Act which repealed the transitional clause in the 1950 Constitution of India giving this former princely state Special Status, Jammu and Kashmir have become the eighth member of the Union Territories of India. In this list of Union Territories are included Delhi, the epicentre of India, as well as her island territories such as Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the far east of the Indian Ocean.

The visit started with foreign envoys meeting the business community of Srinagar, the alternate capital of Jammu and Kashmir. It was clear from this community that the new political dispensation had been fully internalised. This segment of society in the Kashmir part of the new Union territory expressed many hopes and aspirations under the new political dispensation. They talked of the great potential of the Valley of Kashmir.Among these were great business opportunities in the agriculture and agribusiness industry. The tourism industry was another very attractive sector which a number of them expressed interest in growing: pointing out the natural beauty and other tourism endowments of the region. Yet others looked at the prospects of sports as good investment. They called upon the new Government to provide the promised support to them in the very near future.

Equally optimistic were the different sections of the Kashmir and Jammu civil society which interacted with the envoys. This was a mixed group of people including youth, women and senior adults. They expressed great hopes for the future urging that plans for the development of the region be actualised as soon as possible. Furthermore, they called for fairness in access to any forthcoming economic development resources such that they were not monopolised by only one or two sections of society. They called for a fair and widespread access to finance so as to enable all sections of society to benefit from their enterprise. Assured of their Indian citizenship under the new dispensation, the youth, men and women of Kashmir and Jammu, called for access to and security of tenure in civil service jobs. They warned against discrimination, corruption, poor governance and economic strangulation of the local population which had been characteristic of the State before the new constitutional order.

The business and civil society condemned violence perpetrated against the Jammu and Kashmir society by external forces, based on false ideology. They called for peace in their region and pledged to work with their Government within the new set-up of Union Territory, to pursue and attain socioeconomic transformation of their region. They recognized and condemned the unnecessary conflict which had caused their region to lag in economic development, compared to other States in India.

Until 30th October, 2019 Jammu and Kashmir operated under the different set of laws from those governing any other part of India. Although part of India, in line with the decision of her Maharaja to join other princely states to form the new Indian State at the time of independence, Jammu and Kashmir had stood back from the mainstream of the newly created country and its constitutional order, since 1950. While a new constitution had been adopted,its leaders picked and chose which aspects of the new constitution would apply to them and which would not. Accordingly Jammu and Kashmir adopted a different state flag, had different citizenship laws, different ownership of property laws as well as different human rights laws. It recognised the bare minimum of authority over the region by the Central Government namely: defence, foreign affairs and communications.