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As JK climbs to rank 7 in fiscal mgmt, Drabu tweets a cryptic message

Perform or perish!

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, July 22: Jammu and Kashmir has vastly improved in state-wise fiscal management from Rank 24 in 2015 to Rank 7 in 2018 across India, an announcement that was made by Dr Haseeb Drabu, J&K FM during the period, in a cryptic message he wrote on his Twitter account on Sunday.

As per the Public Affairs Index (PAI) by the Public Affairs Centre, India, a not-for-profit research think tank Jammu and Kashmir this year has reached Rank 7 in fiscal management, leaving behind states like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.

Earlier in 2015, in fiscal management, J&K ranked 24, a place it jumped up from to reach 11 in 2016 and eventually 7 in 2018.

 

This improvement led the last government’s sacked finance minister Dr Drabu to go to twitter and write: “At last the reason for my sacking has been made public!J&K improved its ranking from 11 (2016) to 7 (2018) among all the States in Fiscal Management. It was 24 in 2015 when I became FM.”

In March, Dr Drabu was sacked by the former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti from her Council of Ministers over his “controversial remarks” about the state.

Earlier this year, he presented the Rs 80,313 crore annual budget for the financial year 2018-19.

The former Finance Minister in the budget announced slew of measures to further improve the fiscal deficit, which by now had improved by around 400 basis points from an anticipated 9.5 percent to around 5.7 percent.

The 2018-19 budget as per Dr Drabu focused on facilitating greater inflow of cash in the system to “revival of the sagging local economy.”

Dr Drabu during the budget speech had highlighted that the local fiscal system had got shattered because of the 2014 floods, 2016 disturbances and demonetisation.

PAI is a data driven platform to rank the 30 States of India from the lens of governance. PAC has developed PAI as a unique statistical tool to evaluate the performance of governance in the States despite their social, cultural and economic heterogeneity.

PAI 2016 ranked the states on the basis of 10 broad themes, spread across 25 focus subjects and focusing on 68 individual indicators. PAI 2017 was similar to PAI 2016 and had 10 themes, 26 focus subjects and 82 indicators. PAI 2018, however, comprises of 10 broad themes, 30 focus subjects and a gamut of 100 indicators.

In Economic Freedom, Jammu and Kashmir is down in the bottom. From the rank 20 in 2016, it fell to 22 in 2017 and improved to 21 in 2018.

In Transparency and Accountability, the state was at rank 24 but remains at 22 in 2017 and 2018.

In Essential Infrastructure, the state is moving downwards. From rank 16 in 2016, it has gone down to rank 20 in 2017 to further losing points and is at rank 23 in 2018.

Under the category, Support to Human Development that takes care of education and health, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was at rank 17 in 2016. It went down to rank 22 in 2017 only to come back to its 2016 rank in 2018.

The Social Protection has witnessed interesting shifts. It was at rank 5 among all India states in 2016, then touched the No 1 rank in 2017 but lost its ground to reach No 11 in 2018. This category takes care of public distribution system, social justice, status of minorities and the employment status of the population.

For the category Women and Children that takes care of various parameters about the state and status of the vulnerable sections of the society, Jammu and Kashmir is not better. It was at rank 20 in 2016, only to deteriorate its position to 29 in 2017 and finally recover some of the ground and reach the rank of 23. This category analyses the crime rate against the two sections, the institutional deliveries and the women empowerment besides other host parameters to arrive at a conclusion.

However, under the category of Environment, Jammu and Kashmir is gradually doing the worst. A crucial category that takes care of pollution levels, rainfall, waste management and a dozen odd other parameters having the potential of the impact the overall ecology of the place puts Jammu and Kashmir at rank 28, that is third from the worst side. The state was at No 16 in 2016 and improved to rank 15 in 2017 but has gone downwards.

What is interesting is that the state is better placed in overall ranking among the states on Crime, Law and Order. It was at No 7 in 2016, then improved to No 2 in 2017 and finally is adjudged at No 4.

Interestingly, for the parameter Inequality, Jammu and Kashmir is at No 11. This ranking is for 2017 only because the PAC has not created this index for either 2016 or 2018.


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UN chief could discuss Kashmir issue at UNGA: UN spokesman

Press Trust of India

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is likely to use the opportunity of discussions during the high-level UN General Assembly session that begins here next week to raise the Kashmir issue, the UN chief’s spokesperson has said.

Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric during the daily press briefing here on Thursday said that the UN chief has underscored the need for dialogue as the only way to resolve the issue and, “as part of the solution for the current crisis in Kashmir, to make sure that human rights aspects are very much dealt with, as well.”

“…On Kashmir, the Secretary General… has said previously, he remains engaged. I think he will also use the opportunity of discussions during the General Assembly to raise it,” Dujarric said, responding to a question on the situation in Kashmir.

 

On Wednesday, Guterres emphasised that “dialogue” between India and Pakistan is an “absolute essential element” for reaching a solution on the Kashmir issue, and said his good offices are available should both sides ask for it and called for full respect of human rights.

“Well, our capacity is related to good offices, and good offices can only be implemented when the parties accept it. And, on the other hand, it relates to advocacy, and the advocacy was expressed and will be maintained,” Guterres said during his press conference ahead of the UN General Assembly session.

Guterres was asked by a Pakistani journalist about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and what will he do to bring a solution to the Kashmir issue.

“I go on with a clear opinion that human rights must be fully respected in the territory, and I go on with the clear opinion that dialogue between India and Pakistan is an absolutely essential element for the solution of the problem,” he said.

India has always maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part and ruled out any third party mediation, including either from the UN or the US, saying it is a bilateral issue with Pakistan.

The UN Secretary General has also repeatedly asserted that his good offices are available only if both sides ask for it.

Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York on September 27. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also scheduled to speak on the same day.

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Amid Kashmir tensions, India will participate at SAARC meeting in New York

Press Trust of India

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NEW DELHI: Amid heightened Indo-Pak tensions, India will participate at the SAARC foreign ministers meeting scheduled to be held on September 26 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, officials said on Thursday.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan will be present in the US next week and will hold bilateral and multilateral meetings.

Officials said India will participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation foreign ministers meeting that is scheduled for September 26.

 

The meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA could bring Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi face to face for the first time after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions.

Asked about a possible meeting with his Pakistani counterpart as well as the future of the SAARC regional grouping, Jaishankar, at a press conference earlier this week, had said, “if and when I meet Pakistani Foreign Minister, we will see at that time what happens”.

The SAARC is about regional cooperation and that refers to trade, MFN, connectivity etc.

, he had said, adding that now every member knows which country is promoting SAARC and which one is impeding it.

Last year, then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had attended the SAARC Foreign Ministers meeting, usually held on the sidelines of the UNGA.

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Plea alleges detention of children in Kashmir, SC seeks report

Agencies

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The Supreme Court on Friday sought a report from Jammu and Kashmir High Court on the alleged detention of children in Kashmir during curbs following the scrapping of Article 370 in the state on August 5.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing child right activists Inakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha who have alleged detention of children in Kashmir, had on September 16 told the apex court that people in the Valley are not able to approach the high court there.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would entertain the petition regarding alleged detention of children in Kashmir as the plea has raised “substantial issues” regarding minors. The top court directed the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to file a report before it within a week on the issue.

 

The Supreme Court also said it had received a report from the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court and claims that people are unable to access the court there are not supported.

“We have received the report from the chief justice (of Jammu and Kashmir High Court) which does not support your statement,” the bench also comprising justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer told the counsel appearing for the petitioners.

The Supreme Court also sought response from the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea challenging detention of five persons in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370.

The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir administration, to file his response.

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