Article 370: why we need a debate
In short, the story goes as follows: The people involved in making the constitution felt that the Kashmir state (under Lt Gen His Highness Maharaja Hari Singh, Sheikh Abdullah, Gopalaswami Ayyangar, and the rest) sat together and said that the princely state is under some sort of difficulty. Because of the current trauma, they may not be ready to completely integrate with rest of India. So let us give a stop-gap provision to allow time for the state of Jammu and Kashmir(JK) to integrate over period of time.
Now, things were only about to become complicated. A lot of history happened between India and Pakistan, and some people who thought of clicking the "None of the Above" option. To put it in the simplest form, the situation looked like a plate of our Maggi noodles. Now, even regular elections are being held. There is a functioning State government (similar to a regional government of Spain) and member are sent to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament.
The basic premise of the Article was that things will iron out over period of time. Dr. BR Ambedkar was one of the historical proponents of the notion that all laws/articles of constitution, which may be found to be lacking, can always be fixed by the future Parliamentarians. Unfortunately, the later leaders of the nation were broiled in other interesting activities, and forgot about things like the continuing SC/ST, Minorities Commission, and other mundane corrective measures that was envisaged to have been removed within 50 years. While the merry making by the state and central governments was going on, the notion that JK needs to be integrated was used to show the common man that they are working , exactly the way a Class 10 students shows his/her parents that they are studying (of course, while they are doing something else :-P). Currently, the Prime Minister aspirant Narendra Modi stumbled around a call for some sort of debate on the elusive Article in a political rally. The politics naturally kicked in, and #Article370Debate in twitter was born.
RelevanceLeaving all the muck that politicians want to throw around, there are some serious things to be considered. Its been what 60+ years since the Constitution has come into existence. Over the years, what has actually been done to remove a temporary provision in the Constitution. Politicians can always talked about some committee or other. But whatever action has been taken so far, the mere fact that the Article 370 still remains in the Constitution is proof that our approaches were not effective. So the first question that needs to be asked is: do we need a course correction vis-a-via JK?
The answer to the question can be looked from a different perspective. As per 2011 Census, the population of JK is about 1.25 crore (12.5 million) with a decadal growth rate 6 % above the national average. Literacy rate of the state is about 72%, 5 % lower than the national average. In terms of sex ratio, the state has fallen from 900(2001) to 883 (2011) per 1000 men. In terms of the sex ratio in men:women that is indicated in the rest of the web, the sex ratio has slid from 1.11 to 1.13 (World has 1.07, Pak has 1.09, China has 1.19). In terms of per capita GDP, this becomes 33,056 as compared to 54,835 of India. All these figures are with the state being funded primarily from central grants. What these figures indicate is that not much development has actually taken place in the state. So let me re-phrase the question: Is lack of integration with the rest of India due to lack of development or is the lack of development due to lack of integration?
The debate is relevant now because we need to know what is it with JK that a special provision is still around. Now, there are some sections who claim that rest of India is gaining more than Kashmir is gaining. Observe the way the sentence was written. It said Kashmir, and not Jammu & Kashmir. The state of JK has three regions, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The major counter-point with regards to the first query is that we only know of separatists in Kashmir area. I don't have data showing how exactly each of the three regions fair. But I am willing to bet that within the state the three regions are growing in three different paces. The Article technically has an issue in the sense that it doesn't really differentiate between the 3 regions which are culturally different. So, the real question is, are we undermining the rights of three regions because of egoistic jingoistic positions held by a select few? More importantly, the question is not limited to just the people of the three regions. Should the rest of the nation be anymore interested in this conundrum?
There has been a wide murmur among common folks that JK is getting away with whatever they wanted to do because they were intelligent enough to put special provisions in the Constitution.
Answers pleaseAs a tax-paying citizen of the nation, what most of want to know is very simple.
Who is benefiting from this protracted drama that has been going on in the name of Jammu & Kashmir?
Should we look at Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh as three separate issues?
Should we even be concerned about the so-called "sensitivities" of Kashmir?
What is the moral legitimacy of this Article after so many years? Are we better off using force and annexing the region, or is there any purpose in continuing dialogue?
What exactly has the state government done to facilitate integration?
Some of these questions may be non-sensical or even outright blasphemous. But the real question: can we at least talk and figure out why this discussion is taken as a taboo topic by a select few.
[Mega disclaimer: I personally don't subscribe to anything mentioned here, except for a general call for an open rational academic(if not pragmatic) debate]