ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Strategic Myths Surrounding J&K’s Developmental Experience

A Strategic Myth: ‘Underdevelopment’ in Jammu and Kashmir by Sehar Iqbal, New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2021; pp 200, `595.

That the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) suffered economically and in developmental terms on account of its special status is a point often made by the protagonists and votaries of the August 2019 legislative changes aimed at Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution. These were legislative hurdles, it is often argued, to the state participating fully in the opportunities available to the rest of the country. Instead, being in a separate cocoon meant that the fruits of development were cornered by a small elite with little impact on the overall development profile of the state.

This view, widely prevalent in some circles, Sehar Iqbal, a Kashmiri scholar, argues, is a “strategic myth.” At the time of its accession in 1948, J&K was one of the most backward states in the country largely on account of the feudal system that prevailed in it; even when compared to other princely states at the time, it had one of the lowest per capita incomes, literacy rates, and life expectancy in the country. Four to five decades later, the picture was significantly different. Its human development indices (HDIs) had impro­ved dramatically. This “sustained improvement,” Iqbal argues, “enabled Jammu and Kashmir to move up from the special category of states to the general category of states in the 1970s.” Overall, in the four decades post 1948,

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Updated On : 8th Jul, 2022
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