Paradise lost

Print edition : August 19, 2016

Children on their way to tution during curfew in Srinagar on July 22. Photo: Nissar Ahmad

Kashmir, a land steeped in history and rich in natural resources, lags in various metrics despite increasing Central assistance.

AS the Union government fights a pitched battle on the streets of Kashmir against thousands of disgruntled youths, it is time to take a closer look at how the State has been faring on development metrics and the extent of Central assistance to it.

First, the State’s population has recorded a lower growth rate of 23.63 per cent in 2001-11, the latest decade for which data are available, compared with the previous decade when it was 29.43 per cent. However, population density had risen from 100 per square kilometre in 2001 to 124 in 2011.

Jammu and Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority State, where Muslims accounted for 66.97 per cent in 2001 and 68.31 per cent in 2011, while the share of Hindus in the population fell from 29.63 per cent in 2001 to 28.43 per cent.

The literacy rate grew from 55.52 per cent in 2001 to an impressive 68.74 per cent in 2011, with both male and female literacy rates recording a growth of more than 10 percentage points. However, the sex ratio, defined in India as the number of females per 1,000 males, was down from 892 in 2001 to 883 in 2011.

According to Planning Commission data, Central assistance to the troubled State skyrocketed from Rs.5,425.59 crore in 2010-11 to Rs.9,148.55 the next year, rising further to Rs.9,610.22 crore in 2012-13. Jammu & Kashmir’s share of all-India Central assistance also jumped from 6.23 per cent to 9.18 per cent and then to 9.49 per cent in the respective years. The State has also seen its allocation in Centrally sponsored schemes rose from Rs.2,440.78 crore to Rs.3,392.57 crore before falling to to Rs.3,069.31 crore.

Contrary to popular perceptions of the State being merely a tourist paradise, it has millions of tonnes of reserves of a wide variety of minerals such as limestone, gypsum, marble, granite, bauxite, coal, lignite, magnesite, quartzite, dolomite and graphite.

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