By Rajeev Srinivasan, November 2002
The point we have all missed is the virtual colonization of India by Muslim Kashmiris. I have been reading statistical information about the rate of poverty in different states in India. Gentle reader, take this test: what do you think the rate of poverty in Kashmir is? Below the average, above the average in India? 10 per cent? 20 per cent? 30 per cent?
The astonishing fact is that, despite all the wailing and the beating of breasts, J&K is the least poor state in the country, with a rate of poverty of about 3.4 per cent, compared to 26 per cent for the country as a whole! And no prizes for guessing how it got that way: a hint, it is not because they earn lots of foreign exchange from tourism, dried fruits and nuts, and pashmina shawls.
In effect, Kashmir is extracting royal tribute from the rest of India. Strangely reminiscent of what the British did during colonial times. That is, there is massive funds flow from the Centre to J&K. Look at the magnitude of that largesse:
|Fiscal Year||Amount (Rs, in Crores)|
The Union government's aid to J&K has therefore far outstripped the growth in the GDP, which has averaged roughly 5% in this time frame. What does this mean? J&K gets a larger and larger share of central expenditure on states. In fact, it gets 10 percent of all central assistance and J&K has received more than any other state since 1995! Far out of proportion to its fair share, which by population should be about 1 percent: that is, J&K gets roughly ten times what it deserves.
Reminds me of the story of the koel and the crow: how the koel lays its eggs in a crow's nest, and the loud, demanding, hungry koel chick deceives the foster-parents. In the end, the crow's chicks are starved or elbowed out of the nest, and the interloper flies off, fully grown at someone else's expense. That is exactly what the good folks in J&K seem to want: fatten at the trough of Indian taxpayer expense, and then secede or join Pakistan.
To put it another way, the per capita central assistance is Rs 8,092 per man, woman and child in J&K. Kindly compare this to the per capita GDP in India, roughly $460 or Rs 22,000. Therefore, each man, woman and child in J&K is being subsidized to the tune of 36 per cent of the per capita GDP! Each J&K person gets eight to ten times more money from the Centre than citizens from other states. This is a true rip-off. And all this money is given by the Center to the state directly, to use as it pleases.
|Per capita assistance 1992-1993||Per capita assistance 2000-01||CAGR|
|J & K||3,197||8,092||12.3%|
By the way, this largesse does not include major projects that have been funded by the Centre to the tune of Rs 25,000 crores. Consider the following:
|Projects||Cost Rs, in crores|
|Leh via Manali Road||1,300|
|Reconstruction of gutted bridges||224|
|Planning Commission Projects||30|
|Salai Power Project||921|
|Dulhasti Hydro Project||4,279|
|Dal Lake cleanup||100|
|Tourist facility projects||19|
|Leh Convention Center||2|
All this is in addition to the enormous amounts of money to keep Islamist barbarians from overrunning the place. This amounts to thousands of crores of rupees a year, much of which ends up being spent in Jammu and Kashmir. No wonder that the population there, despite years of militancy, and the hollowing out of the tourism industry, is still remarkably better off than most of India's population.
So the next time some 'secular' 'progressive' asks you why there is abject poverty in India, the answer is: 'Because we spend all our money on keeping Jammu & Kashmir well-fed and well-protected.' Of course, the 'secular' 'progressive' will then ask the question, 'Why don't we just give up J&K to Pakistan?' The answer is, 'If we do, very soon we'll be repeating the very same conversation about West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, and Kerala: because the Islamist terrorists are not looking for J&K alone, they want nothing less than the complete conquest of India.'
In case you think I am kidding, here's an excerpt from an interview with Nawabzada Nabiullah Khan of the Jamaat-I-Islami of Pakistan, published in the February 1999 issue of the Jamhooria Islamia, a Baluchi magazine. Khan is quoting the views of Qazi Hussain Ahmed, head of the JI, which has captured a large number of seats in the Pakistani 'elections' held recently. The entire interview, as a window into the mindset of an Islamist, is most instructive. And shows a remarkable world view.
What kind of government that JI envisages for Pakistan?
It will be the Sharia government. Sharia will be made our constitution so
that the eminent Muslim scholars who had completed the schooling in madrassas
will be appointed as the judges in every court. Qazi wanted to make the
presidium on the same model as the Khalifa. Presently our ideas is that the
entire top leadership of JI as well as all three military generals will be part
of the presidium for which the Qazi will be the Kalifa.
We are keenly watching the progress of Taliban and learning from it. We are
impressed with the Taliban on the women issue, minorities issue and law and
order issue. Mullah Omar is a great friend of Qazi. Omar had visited his house
many times. In the tentative talks, we had decided to form union of Pakistan and
Afghanistan once the right conditions are set in Pakistan (ie the JI government
in Pakistan). Our motto is Constant Jihad.
The idea is to keep Pakistan in a constant state of Jihad all the time.
Qazi's vision is that Pakistan will be centre of the new Islamic empire that
stretches from Burma to Afghanistan and from Sri Lanka to Tajikistan including
Kashmir. Towards that end, Jamaat will use all tactics from terrorism in the
kafir- controlled areas to negotiations in the Muslim-controlled areas. Already
the Jamaat leaders of Bangladesh and Jamaat leaders of India had accepted the
primacy of Pakistani leadership in this regard.
It will be the Sharia government. Sharia will be made our constitution so that the eminent Muslim scholars who had completed the schooling in madrassas will be appointed as the judges in every court. Qazi wanted to make the presidium on the same model as the Khalifa. Presently our ideas is that the entire top leadership of JI as well as all three military generals will be part of the presidium for which the Qazi will be the Kalifa.
We are keenly watching the progress of Taliban and learning from it. We are impressed with the Taliban on the women issue, minorities issue and law and order issue. Mullah Omar is a great friend of Qazi. Omar had visited his house many times. In the tentative talks, we had decided to form union of Pakistan and Afghanistan once the right conditions are set in Pakistan (ie the JI government in Pakistan). Our motto is Constant Jihad.
The idea is to keep Pakistan in a constant state of Jihad all the time. Qazi's vision is that Pakistan will be centre of the new Islamic empire that stretches from Burma to Afghanistan and from Sri Lanka to Tajikistan including Kashmir. Towards that end, Jamaat will use all tactics from terrorism in the kafir- controlled areas to negotiations in the Muslim-controlled areas. Already the Jamaat leaders of Bangladesh and Jamaat leaders of India had accepted the primacy of Pakistani leadership in this regard.
The problem is that India has internalized a fear of this creeping Islamization, as well as the woolly-headed 'secular' 'progressive' idea that somehow India owes Kashmiris something. On the contrary, Kashmiris have generally pulled the wool over India's eyes, to the extent that India is now a Kashmiri colony.
How have the Kashmiris colonized India? Consider the following:
Massive amounts of money are channeled from the Indian government to J&K.
Kashmiris are free to reside anywhere in India, to own property, to carry own business.
Unwanted Kashmiris (namely Hindus) are dumped on India.
Kashmiris often are in senior positions in the Indian government, for instance the Nehru dynasty and even honorary Kashmiris like Sonia Antonia Maino Gandhi get to perpetuate their rule. Not to forget that Mufti Sayeed was once home minister of India.
India sends its soldiers and spends massive amounts to fight the Kashmiris' wars.
Now all this sounds pretty much like what the British had going on in India, doesn't it? Consider what the British imperialists did:
Maybe the analogy is a little stretched, but it is startling to see how one-sided and imperial the relationship between Kashmir and the Indian State is.
Let us contrast this with the fact that in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir, the percentage of Kashmiris has dwindled, as it has become a Punjabi Sunni colony, much like China's policy of demographically swamping Tibet with Han Chinese immigrants. According to Yogendra Bali writing in The Tribune on June 11, 2002, more than two-thirds of the population of PoK is now non-Kashmiri. Of course Hindu Kashmiris have been completely eliminated from PoK. By every measure, be it literacy rates, per capita income or poverty rates, PoK is far worse off than J&K.
Furthermore, the Northern Areas (Gilgit, Baltistan, etc), which collectively refer to themselves as Balawaristan, are areas explicitly ruled as colonies by the Sunni Punjabis. They do not even have the fig leaf of a legislature; I have read a number of statements by Balawaris where they express their total disillusionment with the 'Land of the Pure,' which does not give them basic rights, despite court orders. In fact Balawaris have indicated their desire to unite with Ladakh, considering they are just over the Line of Control.
No wonder, then, that the residents even of the raucously anti-India Vale of Kashmir still want to keep themselves attached to the indulgent mammaries of the Indian State. They have no wish, mixing metaphors wildly, to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Consider the poll conducted by MORI, a British pollster.
Human rights violations by militant groups in Jammu and Kashmir:
The role and impact of the Indian security forces:
80 per cent believe that allowing the displaced Kashmiri Pandits to return in safety would help the cause of peace
A pretty clear pattern emerges: the Muslims in the Vale of Kashmir want India to continue to give them money, but want the 'militants' (aka terrorists) to be given a free hand. Why not, indeed: it is a terrific deal for them; they have used the Pakistan-armed terrorists to cleanse the Hindus. Regarding their pious desire for the return of the Pandits, I wonder what percentage of those wanting them to return are willing to give back the real estate and the jobs the Pandits left behind when fleeing.
And of course, like Oliver Twist, the Kashmiris want more. Money, investment, all that.
I think there has to be an end to this free ride. With the new PDP-Congress coalition government in power in J&K, there is a golden opportunity to rethink this unequal situation. For, the election has been patently free and fair, in the face of tremendous odds. Here are a few points as food for thought:
1.The Indian State has been practising a policy of unthinking giveaways to Jammu and Kashmir, danam in the Chanakyan chatur-upayas. It may well be time to move on dandam, a kick in the pants, so they realize that with rights, they have some responsibilities too.
2.The ongoing domination of Ladakh and Jammu by the Vale of Kashmir needs to be ameliorated. It is well known that Ladakh and Jammu have no use for the secessionist tendencies of the Kashmiris; however, the Kashmiris of Srinagar have been running the whole state as their personal fief. The state needs to be reorganized in some way (not necessarily trifurcation) so that the legitimate needs of those in Ladakh and Jammu get a hearing.
3.The minority Hindus of Jammu and Buddhists of Ladakh need to take a leaf out of the books of the Muslims and Christians of Kerala. In Kerala, the religious minorities have become kingmakers by exploiting the fact that, in fractured polities, smaller parties hold the balance when it comes to forming governments: thus everyone wants them and offers them many incentives.
4>Instead of mollycoddling those who claim they want to secede from the Indian Union, the central government should ask them to choose: if they want the benefit of integration with India, they need to go for it full force. The Centre should start negotiating the repeal of Article 370, rather than talking about pre-1953 status or other such nonsense.
5.Kashmiris now enjoy full rights of residency anywhere in India: since there is no reciprocity, there need to be some adjustments. One possibility is to progressively revoke Kashmiris' right to reside elsewhere or buy property. In addition, Kashmiris residing anywhere in India should be under very strong scrutiny to ensure that they are not, and are not harboring, terrorists.
6.Move towards reducing the quantum of central investment in Kashmir. Today, the state generates only 40 per cent of its budget, and the rest is through central grants.
7.If the Kashmiris want a reduction in Indian security forces in their territory, let us grant them their wish. The Centre should start making plans to do the following: mine the border heavily, but gradually withdraw soldiers from the Vale of Kashmir. Of course, this will encourage the Al Qaeda and assorted Pakistani, Arab and Afghan mercenaries to enter the Vale of Kashmir and rape, kidnap, loot etc. Once they get a taste of this medicine from these beloved 'boys in the mountains' I bet the Kashmiris will come crawling back, asking for more soldiers. In fact, the mere threat of withdrawing troops will make them think twice.