Mufti Manzoor Ziyaee’s publication titled “Repeal of 370 and 35A Benefit the Valley, now Centre must provide a healing touch” published in Times of India on December 14, 2020 feels like Britishers and the French sitting on a table and discussing how to divide Africa among their own selves without any African say in the matter. In the Indian context we may call the write-up a reiteration and a piece out of the British policy of “Carrot and Stick” vis a vis British India. The difference between the humaneness that the British applied to its policy and that of BJP Government is that in the former case the stick would invariably be accompanied by a carrot while in the latter’s case sticks follow every other stick. Mufti Saab’s write up is an admission of nothing but this. In this write-up we wish to address the author’s “15-point programme” which he believes can end the “current atmosphere of mistrust” and “pave the way for complete emotional integration of the valley” with India.
While in the very beginning there is a subtle admission of “mistrust”, what the write up lacks is the explanation of why such mistrust exists, giving an impression that the entire population residing, particularly, in the valley is a brainwashed misled community. This is where the problem starts. Kashmiris definitely don’t trust the Government of India for obvious reasons among which the latest include the revocation of special status which it had bargained with the Union of India not as its subordinate but as an equal. In the very first paragraph the author calls for “restoration of trust and address the genuine demands of the people”, however failing to explain how to restore the trust and what the genuine demands of the people are. This itself is a point of difference between the mainstream Indian narrative and the Kashmiri narrative. One may ask whether the demand for right to self-determination which practically entire Indian subcontinent got a chance to express is a “genuine demand” on the part of “a section” that “harbours a deep sense of alienation”. One may ask whether the demand for restoration of special status is a “genuine demand” for the manner in which the entire revocation was done smells of a master slave relationship. Is the demand for revocation of AFSPA, a genuine demand? Are demands of enquiries into the countless alleged Human Rights Violations part of the “genuine demand” maxim supported by Mufti Saab? Who is the judge between the two parties? Is Government of India going to be the judge in a case where the other party alleges it is the criminal?
Next, the government has to link Kashmiris with rest of India socially and emotionally too. Several policies need to be prepared to integrate the people of J and K with rest of India. The fundamental questions that one needs to pose at this point are, for example, who decides who should and who should not be integrated with whom and why integrate at all and what such integration means. Does integration mean loss of Kashmiri identity? Can integration be like it is with respect to the Sentinelese? Can people be left alone to have their own ideals and morals and future within a common international boundary or otherwise? What is integration and why is it needed? Were Kashmiris parties to any discussion on their “integration” with the Union of India when the place where they lived was acceded by its unpopular King into the Union of India? What if Kashmiris don’t want any kind of integration and want to preserve their own separate identity for no reason at all? What if they don’t want to preserve their own identity but don’t want to integrate either, what if they want to integrate with Zimbabwe for that matter, even Nepal or Bhutan? What if they don’t want to integrate with anyone neither want to preserve their own identity? These are all nothing but their own choices, and no one but they have their own choices to make. As long as it is not they, they the people of Jammu and Kashmir, but someone else, even if their close relatives, cousins, brothers or fellow countrymen locked in the same International boundary, making choices for them, the last thing it can be called is “freedom”.
Education and Health sector in Kashmir is in shambles, the author alleges, and he calls for their immediate overhauling, as if these were the core demands of Kashmiris when they hit the roads in 2008, 2009, 2010 and the latest in 2016. It seems that everyone except the Kashmiris are missing the point. Till the fundamental questions that govern the very relationship between the Union of India and the state of Jammu and Kashmir are addressed, every other makeover would be nothing but cosmetic. We may have big hospitals and great educational institutions and we may all close our eyes and say “aal is well”, while knowing all the way along all is not well, in fact nothing is well. Education and Healthcare sectors may be called pillars of modern society, and may be emphasized upon, however such emphasis has to come from within Kashmir not outside, we can suggest a patient to visit a doctor we can’t force him to do the same. We can’t force Kashmiris into accepting Hospitals and Schools while their priorities and aspirations lay elsewhere. The question that needs to be addressed is whether their priorities are right, which we may debate, however what their priorities are would be entirely their own to make, no one else but them can decide their priorities and that is what freedom from an external power feels like. The Britishers built hospitals and colleges and universities, many of which continue to exist till this day, they however did not address the core issues that were plaguing Indians, moreover, one may ask where is the freedom if someone in London decides what we here in the subcontinent want?
That being said, “shambles”, shambles is what we call the state of affairs in the healthcare sector in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Health Index scores for 2017-18 reveals that J & K’s Health Index score of 62.37 is almost two times that of Uttar Pradesh which stands at 33.69. In fact J and K stands ahead of states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Karnataka among others, while its score is almost identical to the states leading the list which include the likes of Andhra Pradesh (65.13/2nd), Maharashtra (63.99/3rd) and Gujrat (63.52). In terms of performance J and K is categorized as the front-runner in the Moderately Improved category with the likes of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana. If such are the results of a state in “shambles”, one wonders what we call the likes of MP, UP, Bihar, are they to be considered part of a different country altogether? The Neonatal Deaths per 1000 births (NMR) is one of widely accepted Health Indicators, J and K stands at 7th position with 18 such deaths per 1000, and the ones ahead of it with the exception of Kerela have comparable scores of 17 (WB), 16 (HP) and 13 (Maha) among others. “Shambles” is what you call the scores of 32, 32 and 30 or states Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh respectively. In the Under 5 Mortality Rate (U5MR) J and K stands at number five, ahead of what is an example of “shining India” – Gujrat and also ahead of states like WB, Karnataka, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, while MP, UP and Bihar continue to languish at the bottom of the table. J and K is the best performer and has the least percentage numbers (with Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram being small state exceptions) for Low Birth Weight (LBW), this indicator reflects the effects of physical environment of the infant and the mother, which play a key role in determining the infant’s birth weight and future health.
The author claims to have travelled “to the interiors of the valley”, haven seen “how people are in dire need of good health and medical facilities”, while we may admit that it may be true, but one wonders where in India is the state of affairs any different. Same could be said about any other state of India with an even greater conviction. In fact immunization coverage can well be used to gauge the penetration of healthcare in a state. In 2015-16 J and K was the only state (large or small) or UT to have 100% coverage, by 2018 only Kerala and Jharkhand were able to achieve the feat. Another indicator that can be used to gauge the penetration of healthcare and also the educational levels (not literacy levels) of the population is the proportion of institutional deliveries. The percentage of deliveries in public or private healthcare facilities reflects the level of access to basic healthcare services. With 85.5% of all deliveries being institutional, J and K performs exceptionally well given its mountainous topography and rugged terrain and hostile climatic conditions, only six large and three small states perform better. Another indicator we can use to check the penetration of healthcare services is the proportion of facilities functioning as First Referral Units (FRUs). The indicator captures the number of facilities conducting a specified number of C-sections per year against the number of required FRUs per MoHFW guidelines. Functional FRUs provide specialized services close to the community and can help to improve access and decongest the patient load at higher level facilities. J and K (220%) again tops the list of states in India with Tamil Nadu (134%) being a distant second, only UTs of Puduchery and Chandigarh do better. Compare the 220% of J and K with 25.8% and 15.4% of UP and Bihar respectively and with that of Gujrat (63.6%). This is not in any way to say that J and K comes out with flying colors, but yes when a comparison is drawn it is one of the better performing states in India with all of its imposed disabilities. Little wonder India Today State of States Report ranked J and K number one in the health sector.
Education has “collapsed” in the valley; the author goes on to say. However, we may be forced to ask what is meant by “education” and how we measure it. In developing countries, high level of fertility is linked to poverty, low maternal education, gender inequality, low female labour participation rates, and other measures of social and economic development. J and K’s TFR being 1.7 is below replacement levels and is at par with advanced countries. This isn’t an achievement one would be particularly proud of, but the propaganda against the state needs to be addressed. Sex ratio reflects the extent to which gender discrimination leads to sex-selective abortion and has to do with societal influence and also educational standard of the population. SRB for J and K is low at 906, but higher than that of states like Gujrat (848), Uttar Pradesh (882), Rajasthan (857).
J and K has a University per 8 lakh of population comparable to Rajasthan and Gujrat, while Uttar Pradesh which has the highest number of universities in India has a University per three times more, 26 lakh, population. If compared to states like Tamil Nadu (11.5 lakh), Maharashtra (18.41 lakh), Gujrat, it again performs better for number of Universities per lakh of population. The All India Average is a University per 13.62 lakh of population which is way higher than that of Jammu and Kashmir. Number of Colleges per lakh population (18-23 years) stands at 23 for J and K, which is comparable to Odisha (23), Madhya Pradesh (24), Chhattisgarh (24), Uttar Pradesh (28), higher than West Bengal (13), lower than the all India average of 28 but not by a very huge margin that is being portrayed. This is a good score when the fact that Jammu and Kashmir didn’t add many colleges in 2018 and 2019 is considered, compared to 52,810 added across India in 2018 alone. Gross Enrolment Ratio in Higher Education (18-23 years) stands for 26.3 across India, while for J and K it is 30.9 comparable to Andhra Pradesh (32.4) and Haryana (29.2) while being higher than Gujrat (20.4), Karnataka (28.8), MP (21.5), Punjab (29.5), Rajasthan (23) and UP (25.8) representing a higher degree of participation in the state. The state of Education in Jammu and Kashmir is not bad and the system hasn’t collapsed any more than it has collapsed in other states in India, we are yet to see hooligans barging into colleges and Universities in Jammu and Kashmir and beat the students up.
The author calls for an efficient transportation network and I can’t stop agreeing with him, however efficient with respect to what? The idea seems to be that there are, as if, no roads in Kashmir and that entire India is filled with expressways. Taking into consideration the topography and relief of the state and the difficulty in constructing roads in hostile weather conditions, J and K boasts 2601 km of Highways which by any standard given the spatial distribution of population and topography is a good number as per Indian standards. The author calls for improvement in horticulture and agriculture sector which are undeniably true, however such a state of affairs isn’t an exception vis a vis J and K, there are needed pan-India reforms in the agricultural sector.
Maulana Saab goes on to say that “corruption is endemic in the valley” forgetting that he is talking of a state in a country which has a dismal record on this front at the international level. It seems that corruption isn’t endemic to Kashmir for which we may refer to historical sources on Kashmir economics which is beyond the scope of this article, however what can be said with a certain level of certainty is that corruption in the state is an import from elsewhere for the gradient on the other side is higher. Conflict breeds corruption, Kashmir is surrounded by Pakistan and Afghanistan both conflict torn countries and has its own conflicts to deal with. Not to forget that states like Rajasthan and Bihar outperform the state even in this category.
In the end Maulana Saab preaches to Kashmiris that the future of Kashmiris lies with India, the question however remains what kind of future and who decides for Kashmiris what their future should be like. Does he want to tell the Kashmiris that their future would be decided by a certain Yogi Adityanath like he is writing the destiny of Maulana Sahab through NRC-CAA? He urges them that “they must use all the democratic spaces made available by the constitution of India” conveniently brushing under the carpet the fact that the same space is not provided to them and that Articles 370 and 35A were part of the same constitution, parts of which have been enforced upon them without any say of theirs in it.
The article is nothing but the same propaganda that has been fed to Indians en masse, but the chicken do come home to roost. One has to look at the comments section where the purpose of removal of Article 370 and the agenda is set. That Kashmiris and non-Kashmiri Indians are on opposite side of the narrative means that hospitals and schools is not the issue, something else is. I would leave the Maulana with the question for he surely knows who among the two needs lessons on peace and development. If he is not sure he may read various newspaper reports on the condition of minorities particularly Muslim minorities in India. He wants to invite Kashmiris to his home telling them theirs is on fire, while it is clearly visible one home surely is on fire and it is not the Kashmiri’s.
At last I would remind Mufti sahab that Allah has forbidden us to attribute words and statements to anyone particularly dead. The Vajpayee Ji had said that Kashmir will be resolved through Insaniyat jumhoriyat and Kashmiriyat not Hindustaniyat. Your statement makes it obvious that your article is mainly part of propaganda or your helplessness to make yourself relevant in new Hindutva India.