May 2017 News

Is Jammu And Kashmir India's Most Troubled State? It May Also Be The Most Pampered One

5 May 2017
India Today

Srinagar: Cross-border terrorism and violence have exacted a heavy human cost in Jammu and Kashmir: as many as 75 civilians and 221 security personnel were killed in terrorist violence between 2013 and 2016. Since the death of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani last year, the Valley has witnessed unrest and instances of violence, the most recent of which was the mutilation of two Indian jawans by a Pakistan Border Action Team in Poonch district. But there's another side to life in India's northernmost state, home to the strife-torn Kashmir valley and a perennial bone of contention in India-Pakistan ties. There may a case to be made for the idea that Jammu and Kashmir is India's most pampered state. J&K has been given special autonomous status as per Article 370 of the Constitution. FINANCIAL PACKAGES: To start with, the state has received some substantial financial assistance from New Delhi. In November 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a whopping Rs 80,000 crore package, calling it a gift, and saying it was just the beginning. Half that amount - of which Rs 19,000 crore has been released - was meant for road infrastructure. And between November 2004 and June 2010, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced two economic packages worth Rs 24,000 crore and Rs 1,600 crore, and sops worth over Rs 1,000 crore. CENTRAL GRANTS MORE THAN UP: From 2000 to 2016, Jammu and Kashmir - which accounts for only one per cent of the country's population - received Rs 1.14 lakh crore in grants from the Centre. That's 10 per cent of all grants disbursed to states during this period. In contrast, India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh - home to 13 per cent of the population - got 8.2 per cent of these funds. To put the UP-J&K contrast in perspective, the allocation of funds per capita was Rs 91,300 in Jammu and Kashmir, and Rs 4,300 in Uttar Pradesh. Here's another statistic. From 2013-14 to 2015-16, Jammu and Kashmir got grants worth Rs 75,500.2 crore. Assam, the other major recipient of central grants, received Rs 74,761.4 crore. DEVELOPMENT INDICATORS: Packages and grants are one thing, but standard of living can be considered to be concrete proof of development. Jammu and Kashmir's performance on certain development indicators is worth mentioning. To begin with, as many as 97.4 percent of all households in the state have electricity. The national average is far lower: 88.2 per cent. 57.6 of J&K households have access to clean fuel for cooking (National average: 43.8 per cent), 52.5 per cent use improved sanitation facilities (National average: 48.4 per cent), and 85.7 of all births are institutional - which means that the newborns are delivered in a maternity home (National average: 78.9). .89.2 per cent of households have access to an improved water source. That number is lower than the Indian average - 89.9 per cent - but not by much. What's more, Jammu and Kashmir's performance on these indicators is generally better than that of some other insurgency-affected states, like Chhattisgarh, Nagaland and Assam. FINANCIAL WOES: However, for all the central assistance and positive developmental indicators, it's worth noting that the state's finances are weak. As of March 2016, Jammu and Kashmir's outstanding liabilities were worth 52.3 per cent of its Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). It fared worse than some other special category states - Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, and Himachal Pradesh, for instance - and even some non-special category states. That's not all. J&K's deficit has been growing steadily in the past half-decade or so. While its outstanding liabilities were worth Rs 30,120 crore in 2010, they stood at Rs 50,130 crore in 2016. And each year within that time-frame, the number increased by at least Rs 2,000 crore.