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Jammu and Kashmir to carry out democratisation program


Jammu and Kashmir to carry out democratisation program

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Photo: Atul Loke/The New York Times

The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) government will today conduct the third phase of its “Back to Village” program, which seeks to improve development in rural areas by encouraging dialogue with citizens at the local level.

As part of the program, bureaucrats are expected to visit faraway villages to speak with citizens and listen to their demands and grievances. The program has generated hope among locals that the current infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir—which is currently in poor condition due to inadequate management, years of conflict and severe winters—could improve.

However, tensions between J&K and the central government are at a peak. Last August, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the state off of its special privileges, initiated a major crackdown on mobile and internet services and detained many civilians for protesting.

The government’s decision to seek a new relationship with people at a grassroots level is an important initial step towards democratisation. Yet, while the short-term goal is to gain the trust of J&K residents, it remains to be seen if the program translates into a genuine transfer of power to locals and municipal communities.

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