The government and the administrative machinery in Kashmir has developed a vastly superior alternative to New Delhis Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme it requires no financial outlay, does not involve bureaucratic or political brainstorming, and carries no taint like that of urban-rural discrimination. Even though the policy represents a quantum leap in economic thinking, it is rooted in tradition, and can safely be termed as a logical extension of the basic philosophy of the progress and prosperity of Kashmirs ruling classes. The governments virtue of modesty has prevented it from giving the policy a formal name, or publicising it among the masses. Its firm belief in deeds and results speaking louder than words has been thoroughly vindicated by the leaps and bounds success of the initiative starkly visible on the streets of Srinagar and other urban centres in the valley, and the swift inroads it makes further afield. As the icing on the cake, this masterpiece of policy and planning – which may be called the Income Guarantee Scheme – has been achieved with the simple and time-tested bureaucratic expedient of doing absolutely nothing. These columns have a humble suggestion to make: the Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy for Indias budding top civil servants may henceforth include in its curriculum a case study of Kashmiri officialdoms core competence of twiddling thumbs.
The government may not have realized it yet, but its strategy has multi-dimensional ramifications, one of the most pronounced being farreaching consequences in the National Integration Project. Without longwinded and expensive seminars and workshops featuring authorities on the subject, the Jammu and Kashmir government has achieved massive people-to-people contact across cultural, linguistic and ethnic barriers, rivalling similar ambitions of the European Union. But in contrast to the Eurozones deepening financial crisis, the economic spinoffs from J and Ks universal Income Guarantee Scheme are insured against collapse and reflect stability the World Bank could envy. Europes dreams of borderless existence has been truly realized for Kashmir where even the formidable Pir Panjal ranges have already been made irrelevant for the outside world in a unique experiment of labour-less livelihoods. It is a mystery why champions of Cross-LoC cooperation have not yet modelled their demands on the Jammu and Kashmir governments signal contribution to interstate cooperation. For, this northern region, most of which is nestled in the Himalayas, has come to the rescue of what used to be called the BIMARU entities before the Indian press discovered the financial advantages of being politically correct. In suo moto cognizance of the perpetually ailing condition of the BIMARU territory, J and K has decided to shoulder a chunk of its social and economic problems by playing host to its workless, landless and foodless multitudes.
By opening its borders to possible recruits to raging Maoist insurgencies, the J and K government has immensely reduced New Delhis internal security worries, as foot-soldiers who would otherwise be wielding arms country-made and imported – against the state in the Red Corridor are now carrying begging bowls in Kashmir which is awash in money even if unable to finance wage-bills of government employees.
Other factors apart, the heavy import of alms-seekers is one more Track II channel of circulating hard cash back to where it came from, and an ideal way of ensuring a wider and fairer distribution of wealth – a long-lost objective of India’s long-forgotten flirting with socialism.
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