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Don’t spoil the brat with more candies…

5 September 2010 464 views 17 Comments

In the second part of spotlight on Jammu & Kashmir, some figures and statistics that reveal just how dependent is the state on financial support from the Union and why it is high time we called for a stop on the financial profligacy in Kashmir...Read on (emphasis mine, throughout).

Start with this snippet from a recent report by Subodh Varma, “J&K’s dependency on Centre alarming“:

In 2009-10, J&K received Rs 13,252 crore as grants from the Centre, which constitutes nearly 60% of the state’s total expenditure. In fact, for the past two decades since the separatist movement spread in the Kashmir valley, the centre has been propping up the state through similar doles..

For over a decade, from 1994-95 to 2005-06, the state received 10-12% of all grants disbursed by the central government to the states…This is way above J&K’s share of India’s population, which is a mere 1%.

Next, read Shankkar Aiyar‘s response to Can Kashmir afford azadi?:

Last week Kashmiris mindlessly marched again calling for azadi. It was as if the arithmetic of economics didn’t apply to Kashmir. As if someone will always pick up their bills.

…The extent of pampering is revealing.

In 2007-08 the state contributed a princely sum of Rs 533 crore as direct taxes to the Centre and received Rs 1,471 crore from the Central tax kitty and Rs 8,962 crore in grants. Its own revenue of Rs 2,299 crore will not cover the salary bill of Rs 4,389 crore.

Even without Jammu and Ladakh, azadi is unsustainable. To sum up, of Rs 16,267 crore spent last year, two-thirds or 65 paise out of every rupee came from the Centre.

Compare this with the Rs 700 per capita that Uttar Pradesh gets. Worse, Uttar Pradesh will return 70 per cent of the grant while Jammu & Kashmir only 10 per cent.

Lollipop

Image Courtesy: Linuxerist via Wikipedia

And finally, Prof R Vaidyanathan’s wonders whether Kashmir Valley’s problems are economic in nature at all?

It is fashionable for bleeding heart liberals (BHL) to offer unsubstantiated arguments on behalf of the militants of Kashmir Valley. Lumpen liberals like that one book wonder Arundhati Roy (who proudly proclaimed in the US two years ago that she had seceded from India since India was not a democracy) need not bother us here. But when other BHLs talk about hurt aspirations of the people of Kashmir, we need to sit back and wonder what is happening.

Why are Kashmiris hurt?

…The second grievance is the socio-economic condition of Kashmiris. The government of India has recently constituted yet another committee to suggest ways to improve the state’s economy and employment. However, J&K is near the top in almost all economic parameters. Consider:

…The state received more money from the Centre than anyone else. In 2008-09, out of a total revenue of Rs19,362 crore, more than 70% came as grant from the Centre. All the Central assistance came as grant, and not loan (state budget documents & RBI), unlike other states.

On the other hand, the urban property tax generated by the state in 2008-2009 was – hold your breath – a measly Rs1 lakh (state budget documents). Despite such poor tax collections, the state is not at the bottom in terms development indicators.

Kashmir’s per capita availability of milk (2005-2006), at 353gm per day, is much higher than most of the states with an all-India average of 241gm a day. The per capita spending on health (at Rs363) is much higher than most states, with Tamil Nadu at Rs170, Andhra at Rs146, UP at Rs83 and West Bengal at Rs206 and a national average of Rs167.

The percentage of children under age three who are undernourished on Anthropometric Indices (stunted, wasted or underweight) is lower for J&K than many other states: 28 for stunted (too short for age), 15 for wasted (too thin for height) and 29.4 for underweight (too thin for age) against the national averages of 38, 19 and 46 respectively.

It goes on. Any socio-economic indicator one looks at one finds that the state is in the top quartile or among the top 10 percentile. If Jammu feels neglected, it could only be because the people there don’t know how to blackmail the country. They are foolish enough to carry the national flag in their agitations!

The Valley is imitating Pakistan on two counts. Pakistan begs globally by threatening to self-destruct even while the elites of Pakistan send their children to study abroad and the poor Abduls and Kasabs are made to die for the cause. The same hypocrisy is practiced in the Valley by its leaders.

Pl do share your thoughts/comments and pl make others aware of the extent of this pampering. Many of you will also find one of my earlier posts on the forgotten “J” in J&K that highlighted the apparent discrimination between the regions of Jammu & Kashmir, relevant and interesting. Do read, share and think.

In Part III, I will talk about the man who is probably the single biggest road-block to any lasting peace in Kashmir valley (in my opinion, of course). Stay tuned.

Related Post: Weekend Reading: Spotlight on Jammu & Kashmir

17 Comments »

  • 1. Kaffir said:

    =>
    “I will talk about the man who is probably the single biggest road-block to any lasting peace in Kashmir valley”
    =>

    Would that be the Abdullah family?

  • 2. seadog4227 said:

    The single biggest roadblock is Geelani.

    I have had this feeling for many years now that India has entered into some agreement with the US, which the Kashmiris and the Pakis know…..

  • 3. Sid said:

    Seadog,
    Same here. Obama might have used Singh to satisfy self-interest. Let us face the fact that state department was completely beleaguered by the fact that the good Talibans that American president dreamed about are more extinct than the dodo bird. It could be that manufacturing of “good taliban” by the good old ISI is complete but they can not be deployed unless some “old” Kashmir-related grievances are addressed. So it is entirely possible that the name of the 2011 Nobel recipient is fixed in return of the settling of those “old” grievances. Obama for peace, anyone? See, it is a win-win deal. Yes, we would be sold short in this case, but we were sold short so many times, we should not have noticed.

    The sycophants who were screaming “Rahul Rahul” (or was it “Raul Raul”) are now screaming “Azad Kashmir Azad Kashmir”. Something must have changed, one may think.

  • 4. Bhuvan said:

    When greed and venality becomes the part of your body system overriding the default neurological system, corruption and selfishness becomes core and paramount. It is applicable to virtually everything in modern time and Jammu and Kashmir saga is no different from this.

    Problems and their ‘solutions’ are often discussed by spineless parties who are not at all interested in finding the real solution for the simple reason that it would bring abrupt end to their ploys and selfish games. People who have provided genuine way out to the problems with some vision in the past were systematically eliminated from the centre stage and this unfortunately does not confined to Jammu & Kashmir but to whole India and the world.

    To start with it would be foolish to expect that present set of people/parties whether ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ have the capability or rather WILL to even address the situation genuinely (they don’t want to anyway) let alone providing some visionary answers. No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it or rather I would say the problem created by same intentions and mind can not be solved, no matter their faces and names have changed over the past few decades (but the malicious intentions remain same).

    The real solution will start when some basic facts will take some concrete form.

    1. Abrogation of article 370
    which gave constitutional sanction to Kashmir having a seperate constitution,a seperate law of citizenship and seperate flag. Kashmiri awam by and large believe or at least the people who have some so called stakes make them believe that Kashmir was not part of India and its future had yet to be setteled.The resultant uncertainty has proved to be the biggest asset of Pakistan and its agents in Kashmir.

    2. Reorganisation of the state

    Once the abrogation of article 370 is done the next step should be to reorganise the state in the form of giving seperate statehood to Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. This would go a long way toward resolving some of the interanal contradictions and problems of this state. It will also satisfy the political aspirations of people of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh and preserve and protect distinct identity of kashmir as also of Ladakh and Jammu.

    These are the bare minimum requirements to start a reasonable visionary solution. Definately present set up of people are incapable or rather are unwilling to let that happen because it is not in their self interest and of course they are governed by their greed and venality.

  • 5. Kishan said:

    The more the pampering, louder will be cry’s for Azadi.The only rational solution seems to be to treat J&K as any other state of India, allow people from other areas like Punjab, Himachal, Haryana to buy property and settle in J&K.The talk of demographic invasion is nonsense like the talk of Azadi.Dr Farooque Abdullah has already trashed this Azadi concept in the Lok Sabha only a few days back.
    But it seems no-one understands the concept of Autonomy also. The autonomy already enjoyed by J&K is good enough.If the people in the state stop getting fat grants they will start working harder, even going outside the state to earn a living and will automatically get emotionally integrated with rest of India.

  • 6. B Shantanu (author) said:

    @Kaffir: In my opinion, it is Geelani. Some may argue that we are giving him undue importance but my assessment suggests otherwise. More on this soon.

    @Bhuvan: Well said: “..it would be foolish to expect that present set of people/parties..have the capability or rather WILL to even address the situation genuinely (they don’t want to anyway) let alone providing some visionary answers.”

    @Bhuvan and Kishan: I will deal with the the excellent points raised by both of you in the concluding part of the series, hopefully soon.

  • 7. Bhagwad Jal Park said:

    I don’t believe that Kashmir should get “Azadi.” I mean, Azadi from what exactly? It’s a democracy and they’re free to elect their own government and live their lives.

    Of course, it’s heavily militarized – but that’s unavoidable given its geographic location.

  • 8. Xinhua Ram said:

    Allow me to re-use my comment from elsewhere: Any pampered child grows up to detest his parents. While those who are disciplined all along love their parents when they grow up…. Kashmir unrest will be resolved when their share of funds is proportionate to their population. Counter-intuitive, yes. The poison of ill-gotten funds is more dangerous than anything. A lesson for India.

  • 9. Prakash said:

    Look at the problem from a slightly different perspective. If State K gets disproportionately high funds, all other states are getting lower than they should get. One of them or many of them should complain… but it seems not many have, at least, not in a big enough voice to make any difference.

    The moment a state complains, there are 10 others telling them about how everyone needs to be a ‘Nationalist’. It is easy to get people to think in that fashion. In fact, that is one of the ways in which some of the ‘National Leaders’ maintain their national level appeal.

    But if a state complains…others should add to that their voice and ask for money to be diverted from state K. That is a better way to address and solve this problem.

  • 10. Vinod said:

    I don’t understand this at all. We pump in so much money. Yet, we get all the blame. The Kashmiri’s can’t have their cake and eat it too. And too much time and money is being spent on this. The sooner we put an end to this, the better it is for India and for Pakistan. Note: I am not saying ‘better for Kashmir’ as to me ‘Kashmir is an integral part of India.’

  • 11. B Shantanu (author) said:

    @Bhagwad: “It’s a democracy and they’re free to elect their own government and live their lives.” – that idea seems hard for people like Geelani to understand…
    But you raise an interesting point about being free to..live their lives.

    Pl read these thought-provoking excerpt by Pragmatic from his Kashmir Rant:

    …So the state is Jammu & Kashmir, not Kashmir. We have had very successful elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2008 and 2009, which overwhelmingly reflects the confidence of the residents of that state in the Indian Republic. But what about the Kashmiris? They want their way out. Great.

    What is the smallest unit that can decide that it wants its way out of the Indian Republic — a nation, a state, a district, a village, a family or an individual. Can the city of Sopore or the Hyderpora colony in Srinagar decide that it doesn’t want to be part of India and declare independence? If there is a case for Sopore or Hyderpora, then why not a case for South Mumbai. It even has access to a sea port and has the financial muscle to survive as an independent nation.

    This is the contradiction that no one wishes to answer. Sopore may vote overwhelmingly for Azadi, Kashmir division may be equally divided on it while Jammu and Kashmir may be overwhelmingly against it. How do you decide the issue then? Taking it logically — even if it sounds counter-intuitive — the smallest unit that can then decide whether any part of the country can stay in the country or not is the country itself. Now that doesn’t sound fair to a few people, like the stone-pelting protestors of Kashmir. But it is fair to a larger group of people that form the unitary political entity called India — the Indians. That is what nations are about. It is a part of the social and political contract that the nation has with its people. Only Indians can thus decide in a plebiscite whether J&K or for that matter, Kerala should stay in the country or not.

    ***

    @Xinhua: “Any pampered child grows up to detest his parents. While those who are disciplined all along love their parents when they grow up…” Good one!

    ***
    @Prakash: You assume that a] people are aware of the extent of pampering b] the states (or their governments) have enough of a voice to make a differnece and c] they are willing and able to question the “high command” that sets the “policy” on J&K

    I agree broadly though that people/states must complain otherwise they are unlikely to ever get heard.

    ***
    @Vinod:”The Kashmiri’s can’t have their cake and eat it too.” Absolutely…Sadly, plain talk is a rare commodity in Delhi these days..

  • 12. Prakash said:

    The awareness of general public is limited but that is not the major problem. The major problem is the ‘third party’ nature of most of the talk – mainstream media and blogs like yours. That is why people get turned off.

    What is in it for me? Is the fundamental question everyone likes to think about. In India, each one thinks for himself as an individual. There are not many organisations at any level that are selfish and vigilant enough to address the issue of allocation.

    There are imbalances at all levels and people are not aware of them. For example, I am far more concerned that for a simple railway journey to a place I often visit, from Mumbai, I pay 20% extra than most others in India. (The ticket comes printed with the information that the distance is 20% more than it actually is!!) But nobody ever talks about it. It is not Kashmir after all where everyone can point fingers to a distant place.

  • 13. B Shantanu (author) said:

    A Youtube video that takes a look at the miseries in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

    (Hat Tip: CenterofRight)

  • 14. B Shantanu (author) said:

    For the record: Politics in Kashmir as ‘filthy’ as Dal lake: WikiLeaks:
    ..David Mulford in a cable to Washington in 2006 when he was the US ambassador to India also alleged that corruption in Jammu and Kashmir was widespread and prevalent not only among mainstream politicians but separatists as well.

    “Corruption cuts across party lines and most Kashmiris take it as an article of faith that politically-connected Kashmiris take money from both India and Pakistan,” Mulford said in the cable which was released by Wikileaks last week.
    ..“Money from Pakistani and Indian intelligence agencies and from Saudi and other foreign extremists has further distorted Kashmiri politics, incentivized leaders to perpetuate the conflict, and perverted state and central government institutions,” he added.
    ..
    The cable further alleged that a “recurring theme” throughout the interactions with Kashmiris suggest how Indian and Pakistani money has made all Kashmiri political actors dependent on “handouts”.
    ..The cable said that state administration gets “rivers of money” for development but the streets in J and K are “appalling, even by Indian standards.”

  • 15. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Excerpt from a recent article by Ashok Malik:
    In 2004, Wahajat Habibullah, a public servant who knows Kashmir extremely well, published “The Political Economy of the Kashmir Conflict: Opportunities for Economic Peace-building and for US Policy”…
    “Across the nation,” it said, “the Indian government generally funds 20 per cent of the cost of state development, requiring the states to raise the remaining 80 per cent themselves. From the 1950s until 1990, however, the state of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed the reverse, receiving 80 per cent of its funds in the form of a loan from the Central government. Since 1990, when the onset of the insurgency exacerbated the state’s financial problems, 100 per cent of the state’s budget has been financed by the Central government, of which only 20 per cent is repayable.”

  • 16. B Shantanu said:

    From Interlocutors Want Surgery of Article 370 by Arvind Lavakare:
    ..It is very sad and shameful that neither the three Interlocutors nor the two reviewers from JNU have cared to point out that —

    1. Despite throwing crores and crores of rupees into Jammu & Kashmir over the last so many years, successive governments of the State have done nothing concrete to make their State self-reliant. An “India Today” issue of about two years ago (http://indiatoday.digitaltoday.in/index.php?option=com_content&Itemid=1&task=view&id=13627§ionid=23&issueid=68&latn=2 ) highlights the State’s financial plight with the following figures:
    (i) In October 2002, “India Today” computed that in 12 years between 1990 and 2002, Jammu and Kashmir got Rs 35,571 crores in grants assistance. In five years between 2003 and 2008, Grants from the Centre doubled to touch Rs 38,156 crores/.
    (ii) In 2007-08 the state contributed a princely sum of Rs 533 crores as direct taxes to the Centre and received Rs 1,471 crores from the Central tax kitty and Rs 8,962 crores in grants. Its own revenue of Rs 2,299 crores would not meet the State’s salary bill of Rs 4,389 crores.
    (iii)To sum up, two-thirds or 65 paise out of every rupee spent by J&K State came from the Centre. This year the state will spend Rs 17,354 crore of
    which Rs 11,510 crore or Rs 11,510 per person will come from the Centre.Compare this with the Rs 700 per capita that Uttar Pradesh gets. Worse, Uttar Pradesh will return 70 per cent of the grant while Jammu & Kashmir only 10 per cent.

    The Interlocutors Report itself criticises the State for its gross mismanagement of the financial help it received and continues to receive from the Central government. Here’s what the Report says —
    (i) “All in all. the State is not only heavily dependent on the Centre for financial and other material resoirces, but is also unable to fully utilise the available funds” (ii)”Resources earmarked for providing socio-economic services have never been utilised in any financial year.” (ii) “Even the guaranteed entitlements for grant of pensions to widows, old and physically challenged persons has not been extended to all the eligible beneficial groups.
    Such a lackaidisical attitude… has resulted in perpetual deprivation of services to people which is why they are unhappy and frustrated and demand improvement across the sectors of development.”

    2. Where, then, has all the money gone? you ask. But instead of asking that question and instead of hauling the successive J&K State governments over the coals for their ongoing miserable economic governance and damning the Union Government for this senseless pandering of J&K at the cost of jeopardising the interest of other States of the country, the Interlocutors have, believe it or not, advocated increased financing aimed at J&K’s remote and hilly regions.

  • 17. B Shantanu (author) said:

    For the record: J&K’s financial status grim: Omar Abdullah, PTI Sep 8, 2013:
    ..
    “The present financial status of the state is grim. We have a total annual income of only Rs 6,500 crore from all sources,” Omar said

    “While we have to pay Rs 13,500 crore as salaries and Rs 2,000 crore to pensioners, our electricity loss amounts to another Rs 2,000 crore annually,” he said.

    “In this situation, we have to remain totally dependent on central assistance,” he said, thanking the UPA government at the Centre for extending help to the state.

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