A Strategic Myth
‘Underdevelopment’ in Jammu and Kashmir
Despite being in the news near-constantly, Jammu and Kashmir has been woefully misrepresented – whether by liberal politicians in India who have portrayed the erstwhile state as a dangerous frontier state in need of a strong security response, or by right-wing politicians who have been spinning a narrative about the land being plagued by underdevelopment. The first of these stems from a top–down version of security that gives precedence to the promotion of state security at the expense of human security. The second comes from a redefining of corporate interests as development concerns, which has become ubiquitous. Both are wrong-headed. This study challenges commonly held misconceptions about the region and brings to light its achievements during the state-led developmental process of Jammu and Kashmir from 1948 to 1988, thus bridging a gap in scholarship concerning this process and the relationship between the political history and social development of the region. Contextualizing development in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 when it became free from princely rule, the study augments the macroeconomic view with village studies documenting the human experience of policy changes. It puts forward a composite picture of development, directly challenging the politically motivated, false narrative of underdevelopment. The book also sheds further light on the adverse effects of the crackdown since 5 August 2019 on civil liberties and the internet, on the economy, and on education and health. With the Covid-19-induced lockdown adding to these obstructions, it is clear that direct rule by the central government is no panacea for development in Jammu and Kashmir. Instead, it is a blatant assault on the gains in economic and social development Jammu and Kashmir has achieved so far.