What you need to know:
- An executive order was issued on August 5, 2019, turning Jammu and Kashmir into the eighth Union Territory of India.
- Before last year, India saw Jammu and Kashmir as a political problem, and an internal security concern, due to its close proximity to the India-Pakistan border.
- When Modi turned it into a Union Yerritory, some public intellectuals and global experts anticipated failure, fearing it would dismember the country.
In New Delhi
India’s Kashmir region turned a year on Wednesday, as a Union Territory (UT), administered directly from the central government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
And, depending on who you ask, the Indian government may have improved, the area, ever since it turned it from a State to a Union Territory.
The story reads much like Nairobi’s NMS, the agency appointed to run services for the city county in Kenya, after President Uhuru Kenyatta found fault in Governor Mike Sonko.
For Kashmir, an executive order was issued on August 5, 2019, turning Jammu and Kashmir into the eighth Union Territory of India. In India, the country is divided into 28 states and eight union territories.
States often have a local governor who runs the show, independent, but in concert with the national government. UTs, on their part, are run with direct supervision from the central government which appoints an administrator to oversee events. Since last year, Girish Chandra Murmu has been the Lt-Governor of Jammu and Kashmir.
A portion of this region has in the past been claimed by Pakistan, and China. Pakistan used the anniversary on Wednesday to blame India to release a controversial map of it, with Mahmood Qureshi, the Foreign Minister, suggesting that civilians in Kashmir had been isolated.
India responded by calling the map “an exercise in political absurdity" that establishes “untenable claims” to Indian territory.
“These ridiculous assertions have neither legal validity nor international credibility. In fact, this new effort only confirms the reality of Pakistan’s obsession with territorial aggrandisement supported by cross-border terrorism,” India's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
India accuses Pakistan of sending militants over their de facto Kashmir border to commit violence and of supporting rebels on the ground, charges that Islamabad denies.
Before last year, India saw Jammu and Kashmir as a political problem, and an internal security concern, due to its close proximity to the India-Pakistan border.
When Modi turned it into a Union Yerritory, some public intellectuals and global experts anticipated failure, fearing it would dismember the country.
In truth, Kashmir’s economy has been devastated by Cvovid-19 as the entire Indian country where 52,050 have been infected and the country went through a series of lockdowns. Some politicians and activists seen as troublemakers were also detained. Some sued afterwards.
In Kashmir, however, the military presence was followed with internet shut downs and a curfew.
But Indian authorities say it was a necessary evil. The BJP government of Narendra Modi says it began implementing development projects, even though the country’s apex court has yet to determine the constitutionality of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act
This week, the Home Affairs Ministry said Kashmir’s new status has been largely a success. It mentioned old age pension schemes, merit scholarships for students, supplementary nutrition for lactating mothers and pregnant women, public and private orphanages, a comprehensive and free medical health insurance.
More than 800,000 people, of which 3.2 million hail from Kashmir division are now benefiting from pension distributed by Integrated Social Security Scheme, (ISSS), a bulletin by the Home Affairs Ministry indicated ahead of the anniversary.
A huge chunk of the beneficiaries includes senior citizens, young students, women and orphans, and as of this year transgender people can now avail themselves for pension benefits. Those who are not covered by the ISSS scheme have been placed under the National Social Assistance Program, (NSAP), a central government-sponsored scheme where pension is directly credited to their individual bank accounts.
The Ministry says there have been more. It lists provision of free health insurance to all residents thus benefiting over one million people. The beneficiaries get a free health cover per family per year on a floater basis without any restriction on family size, age or gender cushioning them against diseases such as cancer and kidney failure.
Treatment for oncology, cardiology and nephrology is covered from day one. They also have access to twenty thousand eight hundred and fifty-three public and private hospitals across the country.
In addition, the bulletin said, there has also been a 250 percent rise in the number of students from poor backgrounds receiving scholarships. At least 800,000 of them were enrolled in institutions on that programme.
The number of completed projects according to government data has increased from seven in June last year to seventeen in July this year. Still, there is the little matter of freedoms. Markets and main roads remain deserted as the security forces implemented a curfew.