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Opportunity lost

A precious possibility may have been squandered by Central and state governments after last year’s floods in Kashmir.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: September 8, 2015 12:02:42 am
kashmir floods, srinagar floods, kashmir floods relief, kashmir floods relief aid, kashmir flood rehabilitation, J&K floods relief, kashmir floods rehabilitation package, kashmir flood victims aid, J&K govt, kashmir news, india news, latest news A Man stuck in his inundated house at the Haft Chinar area of Srinagar, Kashmir on wednesday. (Source: Express Photo by: Tashi Tobgyal)

The devastating floods that ravaged Kashmir a year ago had, ironically, raised hopes of an opening for peace in the Valley. The crisis offered an opportunity for the new government at the Centre led by Narendra Modi and, later, for the new ruling alliance of the PDP and BJP in the state, to make a dent in the deep-set alienation in Kashmir. The two governments could have not only taken steps towards rebuilding the shattered economy, but in doing so, they could also have made an effort to win hearts and minds in a region that is home to congealed disillusion and disaffection with the Indian state. The prime minister’s Diwali touchdown in Srinagar seemed to capture and respond to this new possibility. Frustrated and angry with the apparent incompetence of the Omar Abdullah government’s handling of the disaster’s aftermath, at least a section of the affected people had pinned their hopes on Modi’s image as a doer and an astute administrator. The shutdown observed by the Kashmir Economic Alliance in the Valley on Monday speaks of the waning of these hopes.

To be sure, this ebbing of faith is not new in the Valley. The victory of the

Omar Abdullah-led National Conference in 2008 had seemed to hold out the promise of a return to normalcy in the politics of the state, relegating its “core” discontent. But the government failed to deliver. Thanks to inept handling, one issue after another snowballed into a political embarrassment, capped by the mismanagement of the aftermath of the floods last year. On the persisting challenge of rehabilitation of the flood-affected, the PDP-BJP alliance that took over in March has also largely failed. The BJP’s presence
in both the Central and state governments, it was hoped, would provide the bridge to
address the key issues in a seamless manner. But by all accounts, much continues to be lost in translation. For instance, the official figures peg the quantum of money spent for relief and rehabilitation at Rs 300 crore — a far cry from the estimates in the Valley of
the sum needed to help the economy get back on its feet. The continuing inadequacy
and failure of government must be seen in light of the fact that some villages in the Valley are still flooded.
The context of the lost opportunity for Modi, as well as the larger political establishment in the Valley, is also provided by intimations of a new ferment. Reportedly, social media is increasingly being used to recruit militants and rampant unemployment among the youth makes for easy targets. If the governments at the Centre and the state do not get their act together, rehabilitation of the flood-affected may not be the biggest problem that confronts them.

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First published on: 08-09-2015 at 12:02:39 am
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