There’s a cry baby everywhere. Cry babies are a hassle, no amount of cajoling makes them happy and that’s what has happened to Kashmir’s cry baby, which is none other than its winter capital Jammu.
Jammu claims that it has been neglected by the Kashmiri centric governments. A decade and a half ago it would sounded a bit true largely because at that time Jammu was just a transit point for Kashmir bound tourists. However, even back then Jammu’s industrial development was far better than Kashmir’s, since it was connected by a railway link. Even in the 42 years till 1989, India had not thought about connecting Kashmir by a railway line. It was probably for strategic reasons that India approved a railway line to Kashmir in 1995.
China took five years and one day to complete the work on the 1,142 kilometers of railway track between Golmund and Lhasa before flagging off the Qinghai-Tibet railway in July this year. India, on the other hand, is struggling to complete the 292 kilometer Udhampur – Srinagar- Baramulla rail link more than 11 years after the first approval came through. (courtesy of world tibet)
The work on the railway line is proceeding at a snails pace and there is no fear of questioning from anyone as the excuses of kidnapping of engineers, terrorist threats, attacks, sabotage and as a whole the possibility of Al-Qaeda blowing up the tracks since Osama Bin laden could be hiding somewhere near those tracks always come handy.
The Railway Ministry recently informed the Parliament that the crucial 148-kilometer stretch between Katra and Qazigund would only be complete by 2008-9 and that only 12 per cent work had been completed on this section so far. (courtesy of world tibet)
Back to Jammu. The allegations of discrimination by Jammu are a big fat lie today. Even though Jammu is on it’s way to attain the status of a metro in the next couple of years, the people of Jammu continue crying hoarse. Helped further and incited by BJP and the Shiv Sena, Jammu has lately been demanding the status of a state. However, even though they make a lot of noise about discrimination and separate state hood, they and their leaders know well that they are getting the best bet as long as they continue being part of the conflict ridden Kashmir. It furthers their interests. It helps them get a huge chunk of the money allotted to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In Jammu the money takes the form of development while as in Kashmir it takes the form of more troops.
Even before the conflict Kashmir had no industrial development. Kashmir has always held an attraction and tourism, apples and handicrafts have always been the mainstay of its economy, but much of the infrastructure was developed and managed by the local businessmen. The best hotels, houseboats, apple orchards, handicraft industries and transport services in Kashmir have always been managed by local businessmen. The government has never seriously endured to develop Kashmir. No wonder that even though almost 90% of the total apple production of India comes from Kashmir, it still lacks a cold chain and storage system.
A conflict always gives rise to a different economic system and in the economic system that emerged in Kashmir, Jammu gained. While as Jammu had a flyover years back, even though it did not need one, Kashmir got a flyover a year back. The flyover became the center of media attraction with the Chief Minister of Kashmir gifting it to the people of Kashmir on Martyr’s day. A flyover is nothing out of the ordinary but in Kashmir it is, that’s because the government doesn’t have anything else to showcase its progress. A flyover became the symbol of the best the government in Kashmir could do. In Jammu, the politicians would have had to taste eggs had they tried gifting a flyover.
Jammu over the past few years has gained immensely. Figures show the stark contrast of the amounts being spent in Kashmir and in Jammu. As long as the state of Jammu and Kashmir was under Presidential rule, one really did not expect development, but what happened when the popular governments took over? What about the so called peace that’s in Kashmir? Why do Kashmiri people still have to move out for jobs when, according to a lot of people, Kashmir is the most pampered state in India. If one considers the amount of money spent on the army in Kashmir as the money spent on a state, Kashmir is indeed the most pampered state. It takes a lot of money to maintain 700,000 soldiers in a single state.
According to a report, private companies invested Rs 2,628 crore in the Jammu division, Rs 541 crore in the Kashmir division and Rs 5 crore in Leh region. That’s 82% of the total investments in Jammu and Kashmir was in Jammu.
Even the government is going all the way to pamper and cajole the cry baby. The government of Jammu and Kashmir is acquiring 375 hectares in Jammu for industrial development compared to just 82 hectares in Kashmir. That’s again 82% of the total for Jammu.