Jammu and Kashmir: The Protest Capital of India

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Anmol Gupta


Imagine India as a school class and assume the 29 states as its 29 pupils. Just like in a class where some students have superior intelligence and some are gifted in fine arts or other extracurricular activities, some states are blessed with natural resources while others have tourism potential. When students in a typical school class grow up, some of them would normally realize their true potential (or overachieve) while others will not be as successful or under achieve in life. Similarly, 68 years after independence while the state of Gujarat has emerged as a manufacturing hub of the country; Bangalore and Hyderabad have become the favorites of the IT industry; Punjab and Haryana the Grain Bowls; Jharkhand and Orissa the mining hubs, Jammu and Kashmir inspite of its huge Tourism Potential has emerged as the ‘Under achiever’ of the lot. Infact, the state normally makes it to National news for all the wrong reasons.

If someone picks up the newspaper in New Delhi, the news stories pertaining to J&K will read, “Over 100 injured in protests in the valley”; “ISIS and Pakistan Flags waved in Kashmir”; “Protest in Jammu demanding separate state”; and the likes. For one reason or the other the state witnesses constant protests during the course of a year. While in Kashmir the separatists ensure anti-India protests are embedded in Kashmir DNA, the protest bug has also caught the fancy of the otherwise peaceful region of Jammu.

While it is important that injustice should not be tolerated at any cost, it is equally important that we do not let an ineffectual protest to become a part of our daily routine. The endeavor should be to promote work culture in our society and not to demolish it. I have stayed and worked in Mumbai and Haryana for several years and never ever during my stay were these areas closed on account of a bandh/protest for even a single day. In these areas too, people have issues with the establishment and are unhappy with their elected representatives on several issues but at the same time they realize that a protest in form of strikes on their part will only harm the general public (and not the establishment) and hence, do not resort to such tactics.

The biggest problem plaguing our society is that we believe that the establishment or the government is both the source and the solution to all ills. While there is near unanimity that the state government is inefficient, the youth in the state only chase government jobs precisely for the reason. The Private sector which has a reputation of being target oriented and accountable is virtually missing from the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the protest culture taking root in the state will only dissuade private enterprise to set up shop in the region.

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It is high time that the people in our region and the state realize that protest in the form of ‘Strikes’ or ‘Bandhs’ are detrimental to our interest and the segment advocating these bandhs are not our well wishers. Real leaders of the people will work for promoting work culture in our region in order to reduce dependence on a Kashmir centric state government.

It is us who should decide whether we transform our region into a Protest Capital of the country or transform it into a tourism/business hub of the country. The first option is easier considering we only have to compete with Kashmir and Manipur while the latter requires hard work and direction.

There is a famous quote by Allama Iqbal – “Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqdeer se pehle Khuda bande se khud pooche bata teri raza kya hai”. Now, we decide whether we become the master of our own destiny or make protests a favourite pastime.


The writer is a MBA in Finance and has recently shifted base to Jammu after working in various corporates for 8 years

U4UVoice does not endorse the opinion reflected in this article neither does the article reflect U4UVoice policy.