Kashmir Indepth

Educational and economic cost of violence in J&K


Bashir Ahmad

While the UT of J&K has faced devastating consequences of militancy since the 1990s, it’s the Kashmir region which has been bearing the brunt of this violence.

There’s lack of empirical analysis vis-à-vis the accuracy of losses suffered by education and economic sectors in Kashmir but there’s no denying that its severity is absolutely huge.

As of 2019, there are more than 24000 govt schools in J&K while the number of private schools exceeds 5200. These educational institutions impart studies among more than 2.8 million students from elementary to higher secondary level. As per the information given by National Statistical Office (NSO), the male literacy rate of J&K was 85.70% in 2020 while the percentage for women was 68%. Experts attribute extremism, enforced closure of schools and prevalence of social stigmas and taboos as primary factors in the disparity.

“Adding to this gloomy analysis, the damage done to the education sector by summer unrests of 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2016 includes hundreds of wasted working days of teachers and academic days of students. In 2014, due to the floods and 2016 due to the summer unrest, the then state government announced mass promotion of 8th , 9th and 11th class owing to incomplete coverage of the syllabus. Studies were impacted in 2008, 2009 and 2019 also but exams were conducted albeit in a manner which neither benefited students nor teachers,” a political analyst said. 

In the similar vein, the losses suffered by J&K economy since 1990s are humongous and irrecoverable. J&K being ahead of many Indian states in Per Capita Income isn’t resulting in its socio-economic prosperity due to hardships created by terror activities. The Deep State in Pakistan is fully aware about the massive economic potential of Kashmir and how in tapping its full potential could incline Kashmiris more towards India. Therefore, the tales of economic devastation wrought since 1989 have deprived Kashmiris of socio-economic prosperity and affluent lives.

Declining in growth over the years, the current GSDP of J&K is measured at more than $13 billion which is way short of the $63 billion it was in 2004. J&K would have been the richest UT in India had Hurriyat leaders and militants not scuttled its growth. Despite being an agrarian economy, the tourism, hydroelectricity and other sectors can generate billions of dollars in revenue and generate employment for hundreds of thousands. “However, unfavourable situation is playing the spoilsport. The summer unrests of 2010 and 2016 alone have bled Kashmir economy profusely,” said Mohammad Sidiq, a school teacher. 

Conservation estimates say that 2010 and 2016 summer unrests inflicted more than Rs 50,0009 crore worth of losses on the UT’s economy. However, govt figures contradict it by claiming that J&K economy suffered losses to the tune of Rs 16,000 crores due to the five-month long summer unrest in the Valley. The cost of terrorism in Kashmir has been telling on other economic indicators also.

The per capita income of J&K was measured at Rs 65,615 for FY18, which is below the national average of around +Rs 100K. As already stated above, J&K could have been the richest part in India had Pakistan not cast her evil and inauspicious eye on Kashmiris. According to experts, Kashmir region alone can generate Rs 60,000 crore in revenue from hydroelectricity. Abundant with water resources, the Valley has the potential to generate +24K MWs of electricity. In the tourism sector, the cost of Pakistan promoted extremism has been the most palpable and apparent.

The author is a school teacher 

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