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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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Petitions against Article 370: May consider referring issue to 7-judge bench later: SC

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Dec 12:  The Supreme Court Thursday indicated it may consider the question of referring the issue of challenge to the abrogation of provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, to a larger 7-judge bench after hearing the preliminary submission of all the parties.

The top court’s remarks came after some of the parties, challenging the Centre’s decision of abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution, said there were two conflicting decisions by a 5-judge bench of apex court given in 1959 and 1970.

The provisions were abrogated by the Centre on August 5. “We may consider the question of referring the matter to larger bench only after hearing the preliminary submission of all the parties,” a five-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said.

 

During the hearing, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for some of the parties against the Centre’s decision, said that court should first hear the parties who are challenging the abrogation and then hear the counsels seeking reference to a larger bench. The bench, also comprising Justices Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, said the question of referring it to 7-judge bench will be considered by it at a later stage after all the parties complete their preliminary submissions.

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandaran, appearing for bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, Shehla Rashid and other petitioners resumed his arguments and said that in the scheme of Article 370, while the democratic power is with the State, the executive power is with the Union government. He said that the constituent power of Jammu and Kashmir (expressed through its elected government as concurrence or as a recommendation of the Constituent Assembly) is the central principle observed in all the cases dealt by the apex court on the issue of Article 370.

“Therefore, since it is the State of J&K that has constituent powers over its own constitutional framework as well as a role in determining the constitutional relationship of the State with the Union, it is the State of J&K which can democratically decide how its constituent powers can be exercised in accordance with its Constitution,” he added. Replying to yesterday’s question of the bench, as who could be the competent authority to reconstitute the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly to take a call on altering the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370, “it is only the State of J&K that can decide who will be a successor to the Constituent Assembly of the State, who may wield constituent powers in future”.

Ramachandaran said that in the present instance instead of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, it was the union government acting through the President that decided how the constituent power of the Constituent Assembly under Article 370(3) would be exercised – by modifying Article 367(4) in Presidential order. “Therefore, this act of the President is ultra vires his powers under the self-contained code that is Article 370. This part of the challenge thus may not be subsumed under the question of the President’s powers under Article 356,” he said.

Senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, appearing for petitioner Prem Shankar Jha, said there are two conflicting judgements given by the five-judge of the apex court in 1959 in Prem Nath Kaul versus Jammu and Kashmir and in 1970 in Sampat Prakash versus Jammu and Kashmir. He sought referring of the matter to the larger 7-judge bench for a definite findings.

The hearing remained inconclusive and would continue on January 21, 2020. On Wednesday, the top court had raised a query as to who could be the competent authority to reconstitute the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly to take a call on altering the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370 of the Constitution.

The top court, also raised the point that if the decision rested with people then will it be a case of “referendum, concurrence or consultation”. The petitioners have referred to the constitutional provision and said that only the Constituent Assembly, which represents the will of the people, is empowered to make recommendation to the President on any changes in the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Ramachandaran had contended that President could have only abrogated provisions of Article 370 only on recommendation of the Constituent assembly, which represented the will of the people of the state. He had said the two presidential orders issued with regard to abrogation of Article 370 have completely flouted the tenets of basic structure of the Constitution of India.

Earlier, Ramachandaran had argued that the Centre’s decision to abrogate provisions of Article 370 was “unconstitutional” since people of Jammu and Kashmir were “bypassed” and any proposal for altering the constitutional status of the erstwhile state should emanate from the citizens there. A number of petitions have been filed in the matter including that of private individuals, lawyers, activists and political parties and they have also challenged the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019, which splits J&K into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

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Hostels locked in KU: 2000 students from far off areas left in lurch

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Dec 12:  More than 2000 students have been left to fend for themselves after University of Kashmir arbitrarily locked hostels in the campus.

For the last three months, Kashmir University had been shut due to uncertainty post Article 370 abrogation. However, few days ago, University resumed classwork without extending hostel facilities to students of far flung areas.

 “I have to travel from Bandipora district to attend my classes in Kashmir University. I can’t come daily because I have to shell out Rs 300-400 for my travel expenses. I used to stay in hostel before August 5. Post abrogation of Article 370, all hostels have been shut,” said Amina Shafi, an aggrieved student.

 

Another student Basit Wani said it is not possible for him to travel every day from his home at Kulgam.

“I was looking for a rented accommodation in the vicinity of Kashmir University. I was shocked to know that monthly rentals range from Rs 8000 to 10,000, which I could not afford. It is very difficult for students of far flung areas to attend classes every day,” he noted.

Provost Kashmir University, Sheikh Ajaz and  Dean Academic Affairs, Professor Akbar Masood refused to comment.

Media spokesperson, Kashmir University, Professor Shahid Rasool said a small percentage of students stay in hostels while rest of them are either from Srinagar city or stay in private accommodation outside the varsity. “We have limited hostel accommodation here,” he said

Shahid said currently the attendance is very thin and when the classwork starts properly, hostels will be thrown open.

“Let students come and talk to the warden. We have to make heating, cooking and other arrangement for students who stay in the hostel. Class representatives should talk to the respective departments,” he said.

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Police buy modern weapons to take on militants

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Dec 12:  Modern weapon system, state-of-the-art forensic equipment, portable bullet proof jackets and light weight helmets are the new tools of Jammu and Kashmir police to take on militants in the Union Territory.

Under Modernization of Police Forces (MPF)’ scheme, Centre has released Rs 83 crore to Jammu and Kashmir police in the last two years to purchase modern weapons and upgrade infrastructure in different police stations.

 The main objective of MPF is to gradually reduce the dependence of states and union territories on the Army and Central Armed Police Forces to fight militancy and deal with law and order situations.

 

Official data accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveals that Centre provided Rs 769 crore and Rs 811 crore to all states and union territories for 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively. Of which Jammu and Kashmir has received Rs 83 crore.

The new Union Territory is only behind Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra which received Rs 131 crore and Rs 98 crore respectively under MPF.

Sources said money was released to Jammu and Kashmir police so that they are able to face the challenges of internal security, deal with law and order situations and fight militancy in an effective manner

A senior police official said Jammu and Kashmir has already purchased modern weaponry, bullet proof jackets and helmets under the scheme over the last two years.

“Jammu and Kashmir police has also been able to purchase equipment for forensics and cyber cell. It has also raised height of walls of over 100 police stations as a security measure,” he said.

Special focus has been laid on technical up-gradation including installation of Close Circuit Television (CCTVs) in and around police stations of the Srinagar city. Plus toilets have also been built in more than 200 police stations.

“All these measures are being taken to combat militancy. Government wants J&K police to be well equipped and better trained to deal with the situation,” he said.

There are around 100,000 police personnel in Jammu and Kashmir who have been dealing with the law and order situation and fighting militancy.

Earlier, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India had criticized J&K government for providing “poor infrastructure and lack of basic facilities for the state police force that needs it the most in the country”.

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