Posted Sun, 09/02/2012 - 20:45 by admin
By Arvind Lavakare
Arvind Lavakare is author of the book, "The Truth About Article 370" published by Rambhau Mhalgi in 2005.
It is very sad and shameful that neither the three Interlocutors nor the two reviewers from JNU have cared to point out that ---
1. Despite throwing crores and crores of rupees into Jammu & Kashmir over the last so many years, successive governments of the State have done nothing concrete to make their State self-reliant. An "India Today" issue of about two years ago (http://indiatoday.digitaltoday.in/index.php?option=com_content&Itemid=1&task=view&id=13627§ionid=23&issueid=68&latn=2 ) highlights the State's financial plight with the following figures:
(i) In October 2002, "India Today" computed that in 12 years between 1990 and 2002, Jammu and Kashmir got Rs 35,571 crores in grants assistance. In five years between 2003 and 2008, Grants from the Centre doubled to touch Rs 38,156 crores/.
(ii) In 2007-08 the state contributed a princely sum of Rs 533 crores as direct taxes to the Centre and received Rs 1,471 crores from the Central tax kitty and Rs 8,962 crores in grants. Its own revenue of Rs 2,299 crores would not meet the State's salary bill of Rs 4,389 crores.
(iii)To sum up, two-thirds or 65 paise out of every rupee spent by J&K State came from the Centre. This year the state will spend Rs 17,354 crore of
which Rs 11,510 crore or Rs 11,510 per person will come from the Centre.Compare this with the Rs 700 per capita that Uttar Pradesh gets. Worse, Uttar Pradesh will return 70 per cent of the grant while Jammu & Kashmir only 10 per cent.
The Interlocutors Report itself criticises the State for its gross mismanagement of the financial help it received and continues to receive from the Central government. Here's what the Report says ---
(i) "All in all. the State is not only heavily dependent on the Centre for financial and other material resoirces, but is also unable to fully utilise the available funds" (ii)"Resources earmarked for providing socio-economic services have never been utilised in any financial year." (ii) "Even the guaranteed entitlements for grant of pensions to widows, old and physically challenged persons has not been extended to all the eligible beneficial groups.
Such a lackaidisical attitude... has resulted in perpetual deprivation of services to people which is why they are unhappy and frustrated and demand improvement across the sectors of development."
2. Where, then, has all the money gone? you ask. But instead of asking that question and instead of hauling the successive J&K State governments over the coals for their ongoing miserable economic governance and damning the Union Government for this senseless pandering of J&K at the cost of jeopardising the interest of other States of the country, the Interlocutors have, believe it or not, advocated increased financing aimed at J&K's remote and hilly regions.
3. What is more astonishing is that despite the above realistic assessment that the people of J&K are "unhappy and frustrated" because of the :"perpetual deprivation of services" caused by the economic-cum-financial bunglings of J&K's successive givernments, the Interlocutors assert that "The State's distinctive status guaranteed by Article 370 must be upheld." Oh, good Lord, what has continuing the guarantee of Article 370 got to do with the "perpetual deprivation of services to people which is why they are unhappy and deprivation"?
4.The answer is absurd as well as agonising. The Interlocutors assert that "The political settlement we propose takes into full account of the deep sense of victimhood prevalent in the Kashmir Valley." In other words, the "victimood" of the Abdullahs and the Muftis along with their sycophants, the separatists and the moderates who rule the Valley must all be appeased with... some kind of mumbo jumbo with Article 370, and never mind if they thereafter rule over the State as a collective Wazir-e-Azam of a Mughal fiefdom financed by periodic doles from New Dekhi.
5. Similarly, despite talking loudly about protecting human rights in J&K, the Interlocutors are silent on the demand of (i) large groups in Jammu Province for full integration with the rest of India and (ii) organised grioup of Buddhists seeking Union Territory status for their Ladakh Province. Nor are the Interlocutors concerned about the urgent need to remove the shameful discrimination between the J&K's privileged citizens which Section 6 of the State Constitution calls "Permanent Residents" (labelled "State Subjects" in the days when a Maharaja ruled the State) and other residents of the State who have been given rights of Indian citizenship by the Government of India. Thus, these other residents, even those living in the State for years (who are not recongised as "Permanent Residents") are not entitled to vote for the State Assembly elections while, ironically, they are entitled to vote for the Lok Sabha elections of the Indian Parliament. Standing for the Assembly elections is therefore simply out of question. Why, these non-Permanent Residents are not permitted to contest for even a panchayat seat leave alone vote at a a local panchayat election. Worse is that, by Rules made under the said Section 6 above, the children of these non-Permanent Residents are denied the right to secure scholarships and other benefits given by the State Government to Permanent Residents. And, as is commonly known, non-Permanent Residents are not permitted to acquire immovable property in J&K. These discriminations are most condemanble and remind one of the signs "Dogs and Indians not Allowed" put up outside select clubs in British India. Apparently, the Interlocutors approve of such a tag being used for J&K territory.
6.Not most of those outside J&K know that the six members of India's Lok Sabha elected trom J&K have every right to speak and vote on any Parliamentary or Constitutional legislation applicable only to the territories except J&K, but not one of the rest of the 750-odd members constituting the Lok and Rajya Sabhas has the right to speak, debate and vote on whether that piece of legislation should be made applicable to the State of Jammu & Kashmir! That decision is left only to the J&K Government, courtesy Article 370 of Constitution of India --- the right to form a separate constitution being given under the Instrument of Accession drafted by the British rulers of India and signed by Karan Singh, Maharaja of the State, on October 26, 1947.
7. The Interlocutors, however, are seemingly unmindful or uncaring of the dangerous side effects of the exclusive and elitist attitude created in the people of J&K by the above abnormalities and anomalies and the cold indifference generated in the rest of the country --- all because of a separate Constitution for J&K State and this Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. For instance, the J&K State Constitution (Section 52) lays down the life of the J&K State Assembly as six years as against the life of five years enjoyed by all other State Assemblies of India. Again, because of the use of Article 370 provisions, the Indian Penal Code is not applicable to J&K State just as several other Indian Parliamentary laws are not applicable to J&K either wholly or in part. For the same reason, the word "Secular", which was incorporated in the Preamble of the Constitution of India by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976, does not apply tor J&K State. Similar is the case with several other Articles of the Indian Constitution. The Interlocutors' Report, however, is blind and dumb about such realities which need to be cleansed if we want a J&K State that would truly be a part and parcel of Bharat.
8. Indeed, in their advocacy of a " political settlement" under which "The State's distinctive status guaranteed by Article 370 must be upheld",
the Interlocutors demand a Constitutional Committee to review and reconsider all Parliamentary laws and Constitutional amendments made applicable by the Government of India to Jammu & Kashmir after 1952 through the medium of Article 370. This is nothing but a camouflaged attempt by the three very "liberal" ,"secular" and "erudite" Interlocutors to try and secure, for the dominant and vain Kashmir Valley politicians, their old demand for a pre-1953 autonomy.
9. The Interlocutors want a Constitutional Committee to review all Central Acts and Articles of the Constitution of India and determine what powers are needed by the State to address the political, social and cultural interests, concerns, grievances and aspirations of the people of all the three regions of J&K viz Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Note that the scope of the review recommended by the Interlocutors is limited to the benefits for the State only and not for the State as well as the Indian nation. Once these powers determined by the Constitutional Committee are agreed upon by J&K State and the Union Government, the President of India will issue an Order under the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 370 incorporating the agreed recommendations of the Constitutional Committee as being the relation thenceforth between the J&K State and the rest of India. After that process is complete, clauses (1) and (3) of Article 370 as they now stand will become non-operative and no Orders shall be made by the President under those clauses thereafter. What would be the result?
10. What will happen will be a plastic surgery of the face of Article 370. Because clause (2) of the present Article 370 is related to the moribund Constitutuent Assembly of J&K and is in conjunction with sub-clause (1). that sub-clause (2) will automatically become non-operative. And since the present Article 370 consists only of those three sub-clauses, the entire Article 370 as we have known since the birth of the Indian Constituion will be dead and a mere part of history. What will its new version be? It will, presumable be labelled as a "Permanent Special Status for Jammu & Kashmir State" and specify that the relations between the Union Government and J&K will be as per the Constitutional Order dated so-and-so issued by the President of India under the old clause (1) of Article 370.
If the present bunch of Interlocutors and the present rulers of the Kashmir Valley have their way, the new Article 370 will also lay down that it is not subject to amendment. That, truly, will be the end of story for Article 370 as we have known. A plastic surgery will give it a new face, burying the old one once and for all.