Not many people outside of India would be aware of the “special status” given to Kashmir – but all has changed as the status has been revoked by the Modi Government.
Under the previous special status Jammu and Kashmir had their own constitution and decision making rights for all areas except defence, communications and foreign affairs.
But the special status went further than that – forbidding Indians outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs and securing education scholarships.
While it might have initially been designed to protect Jammu and Kashmir, we know from experience that special status like this also condemns the recipient to live in a kind of time warp, stagnating and excluded from the broad benefits of economic growth and social change.
In other words, the decision of the Modi Government to revoke the special status seems to be good common sense.
But there appears to be no end of trouble in this area disputed by India and Pakistan.
Maybe the India side can be peaceful via the longer term plan to split the state into two territories – Jammu and Kashmir with their own elected legislature and Ladakh (picture above) which will be ruled directly by the central government.
Let’s hope the move is positive and the people can be free from conflict.
Now the challenge for PM Modi is to find some resolution of the conflict with Pakistan – but that seems a challenge beyond resolution.