2021- Challenges Ahead

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Er. P. L. Khushu

With start of the year 2021, a new decade has started. 2021 as well as the eradication of the woes and maladies of the year 2020 are appearing to be imminent, with coming of a new vaccine for the eradication and control of the pandemic COVID-19. COVID-19 ended in a global disaster as far as the sufferings of sorts inflicted on the mankind across the globe is concerned. The year 2020 became a symbol of gloom because of the outbreak of coronavirus, but 2021 comes with the hope of a cure. Vaccines for COVID-19 have been rolled out, in India and efforts are being made to ensure that they quickly reach all those who need it as per Prime Minister Modi. He said that people should not get taken in by ‘rumors and lies’ about the efficacy of the vaccine that could be spread when vaccination programme gains pace. “All preparations are going on in the country with respect to the vaccine. Efforts are in the final stages to ensure that the vaccine made in India reaches all important sections swiftly,” he said. India’s preparations to run the largest vaccination programme are at high pace. The nation has to be confident that the way we came together in year that went by to take on the disease, in the same way, we will make efforts and go forward together to ensure that the vaccination programme runs smoothly during 2021. India is in a decisive phase of this fight, with the start of the world’s biggest vaccination campaign from 16th January. Both the vaccines, for which emergency use authorisation has been given, are made in India. It is a matter of pride for India and its people. It is said that both the approved vaccines are highly cost-effective in comparison to other vaccines from across the world. Otherwise India would have faced great difficulty if it would have had to depend on foreign vaccines. India aims to achieve vaccination for 3 crore people in next few months, who will be the frontline workers, fighting the pandemic. This will include safaikarmacharis, police and paramilitary personnel, home guards, disaster management volunteers and other Jawans in civil defense. Revenue Officials associated with containment and surveillance, will also receive vaccine in the first stage. The State governments will not have to bear any cost towards vaccinating of these 3 crore people in the first stage. Centre will bear this cost, as per the statement of Prime Minister in this behalf. In the second stage, those above 50 years of age, and those below 50 years of age with co – morbidities or with high risk of infection, will get this vaccination. The other calamity which befell recently is spread of Bird Flu in some states of India. It is again a cause of concern. Bird flu or avian influenza is a viral infection that is reported mostly in birds, but has the potential to affect humans and other animals. The most common strain of the virus that causes severe respiratory disease in birds is H5N1.
Another carryover problem of last year is the farmers’ protests. The ‘Delhi Chalo’ farmers’ agitation mostly from north Indian states has entered 53rd day. The Supreme Court of India has kept in abeyance the implementation of three farm laws till further orders and has formed a committee of experts for scrutinising these farm laws, but the farmers unions are adamant and are now even refusing to listen to the wise counsel of the Supreme Court of India, when they have not been able to arrive at any logical decisions with their several meetings with the group of ministers headed by the agriculture minister in this behalf.
They have distinctly refused to present their position before the committee appointed by the Supreme Court of India. Does it mean that they have a weak case? It is not clear as to what is behind such a movement. Under the circumstances it appears to be something else under garb of farmers’ protests. Who is abetting it, should be a matter of concern for the nation. Yes the farmers may have a genuine grievance, when the Government of the day is ready to address their
grievances, by making amends to farm laws, wherever needed.
Their adamant approach that these laws should be repealed is not acceptable to the Government. What has been done in the parliament of India through a constitutional process cannot be undone by holding an agitation on roads and blocking movements of other citizens. It ultimately may tantamount to creating anarchy in the country with some different political motives to destabilise the democratic governance in this country. Holding of talks means the process of give and take, once two sides sit for some negotiations. It is not unilateral. Who does not know that this agitation has been taken-over by elements that are bent to create problems for good governance? The bills are being viewed as anti-farmers and apprehensions are created in their minds.
The hue and cry created over these bills is certainly an outcome of a hijacked movement, where the beneficiary is not given right information and rather kept misinformed to fulfill political motives. Those, who are resisting change, are not ready to digest the fact that farmers can also trade and act freely. Probably in the days to come a sensible approach will be adopted both by real farmers and the Government to resolve this issue amicably.
In the last few years, the country has witnessed various protests and most of them have fallen flat. From mobilising the university youth, to using the plight of migrant laborers during COVID, to heat up the reservation issue and even recent CAA protests, are the examples to be quoted in this behalf. The right to dissent is often misused to create a roadblock and has been a primary reason for delay in the implementation of various reforms in the country. The turmoil which is being created in the country over the farm laws is a classic case where groups with vested interests are misleading farmers and instigating them to revolt, when these elements are in the search of ways to reestablish their lost political base.
Back home, Jammu & Kashmir Lieutenant Governor announced Rs 28,400-crore industrial development scheme recently which would usher in socio-economic development of the Union Territory. It is envisaged that it would encourage new investments and expansion, nurture existing industries and ensure employment to 4,50,000 people.
Addressing a presser in Jammu, he said the scheme would take industrial development to block- level and promote far-flung areas of J&K. The scheme will be applicable from the date of notification to 2037, and will focus on job creation, skill development and better and faster industrialisation in J & K Union territory. Probably its impact must be much more in Jammu division than that of Kashmir division, because the industrial growth potential is much more better in Jammu division than that of Kashmir division, due to weather and transportation conditions, when Jammu has remained aspiring for same for long.
Another challenging endeavour will be the fresh delimitation of Jammu & Kashmir. Under the present governance when the intentions of the government policies are pro-people and for the sake of democracy, it is essential that every vote should have the same value to the extent possible, as also every rightful citizen should have the right of franchise.
This process of delimitation in this union territory needs to be done on real figures of actual population of Jammu and Kashmir provinces. It is imperative to mention here that as per 2011 census, the total population of Jammu division was 53, 78,538 souls, covering an area of 25.93 per cent.
Against this Kashmir division as per 2011 census was having 68, 88,475 souls, covering only 15.73 per cent of the states area. Ladakh has 58.33 per cent of the states area, when the population is just 2.18 per cent. It is unfortunate to mention here that in this census report, a large gap of population of about more than 15 lakh has been mentioned more in Kashmir division and thus showing a big gap of population between the Kashmir division and the Jammu division, when the situation is not so. Here reference is invited to a large group of migratory population of the state, like Jugars and Bakerwals, which is a migratory population and are mostly on the move between regions of Kashmir and Jammu.
This entire population comprising of more than 15 lakh people have been added to the population of Kashmir division. Similarly a gimmick has been played with the KPs, when about two lakh KPs have been shown with the population of Kashmir division, when hardly just a few thousand of KPs are living in Kashmir after mass exodus of KPs. Most of the KPs are living in Jammu after forced displacement from Kashmir, when a good number of KPs are living in other parts of India.
It shows that population of Kashmir division has been superficially over-enhanced. Thus to restore the concept of real democratic values and principles within the people of J&K, when our country is now having a dedicated and a strong willed government, the relevant actions on the process of delimitation in the state needs a real and a cognizable approach and action so for as population figures of 2011 census in regard to Jammu division are concerned.
Jammu division of Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir deserves proper representation in the assembly seat share and in the parliamentary seat share. Similarly Jammu division has suffered a lot for its proper development for last four decades, on account of lesser allocation of funds for various development projects, which is based on population of the regions, which has always been undermined for Jammu. The people of Jammu may not suffer again, if not by design, but by default.
For this purpose, the newly appointed Delimitation Commission has to adopt some scientific and convincing methodology in respect of assessing the real population of Jammu division. Let prudence prevail over the ruling masters, before Jammu asks for a separate Union Territory.
Let the writing on the wall be read with utmost caution. Equally the politicians of Kashmir, whichever party they belong to, should now concentrate on the development of Kashmir first and think of other political issues after wards, before Kashmir gets isolated as a paradise on earth without a sky.

(The author is a chartered consultant civil engineer who loves his mother land the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir very much)

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