India: Centre to push development schemes for individuals in J&K, Ladakh

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Centre to push development schemes for individuals in J&K, Ladakh

Earlier this week, cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a meeting on social schemes for the two new UTs. Move aims to highlight government’s intent on development for the regions’ residents.

INDIA Updated: Mar 01, 2020 16:26 IST

Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A Kashmiri coppersmith working inside a workshop in the downtown of Srinagar.
A Kashmiri coppersmith working inside a workshop in the downtown of Srinagar.(ANI)

The Union government will sharply focus on government schemes aimed at individuals, such as scholarships or houses, in the Union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, in an effort to push its development narrative in the region.

Earlier this week, cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a meeting on social schemes for the two new UTs. According to two officials who attended the meeting, it was decided that the schemes must see 100% coverage with no potential beneficiary being excluded for lack of funds. The meeting, attended by secretaries of home affairs, minority affairs, tribal affairs, rural development and officials from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh focused on the two main issues involved — challenging conditions on the ground and the financial implications of covering everyone. For instance, the two officials said, one of the participants pointed out how the limited availability of 3G network in the valley makes the enrollment process difficult.

The emphasis on schemes that touch individual beneficiaries comes from the belief that this will have a perceptible impact on the ground, and highlight the government’s intent on the development front to residents. Indeed, this has been one reason consistently put across by the government to support its decision of August 5, 2019 to scrap constitutional provisions that had given the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir special status and its citizens special privileges — the ability to ensure people in the region benefit from welfare schemes as much as those in the rest of the country have.

“Proper implementation of individual schemes can directly improve people’s lives,” one of the two officials said on condition of anonymity.

Individual beneficiaries have been a key element of the National Democratic Alliance government’s social schemes and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party made special efforts to carve out a vote-bank out of the 220 million who benefited from various schemes in the run-up to the 2019 national polls, reaching out to them through dedicated campaigns and interactions.

According to data provided by the National Scholarship Portal, Jammu and Kashmir has received 517,000 new proposals for pre-metric scholarship in the academic year 2019-20 but money has been disbursed in just 8,294 cases.

Similarly, as on February 26, against a total target of building 62,932 houses for the rural poor in the region, only 36,780 have been sanctioned and just 122 have been completed, according to the data available with the rural development ministry.

In the meeting, it was decided that the schemes such as scholarships, gas connections under the Ujjwala programme, and housing for the poor must start with a 100% offtake with complete enrolment and funding. “This is an important step. The government has targeted 100% saturation in social programmes earlier too. But this time, 100% offtake is also envisaged, making it a special case for J&K and Ladakh UTs,” said the second official, who too didn’t wish to be named.

One of the other challenges discussed at the meeting was data on potential beneficiaries. The data provided by Union territories officials didn’t match with that of the Union home ministry and the latter has been asked to devise an online mechanism for data reconciliation.

Former rural development secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra underlines that J&K has very low poverty indices and so the welfare programmes must focus on skill development and employment . “Livelihood programms would do very well in J&K. I remember in his first Pragati meeting with secretaries, the PM had reviewed J&K livelihood programme and sought its continuation. While some schemes such as housing or scholarships must target individual beneficiaries, entry point for livelihood schemes has to be in groups.”

India: Jaish facility in Balakot bombed by IAF jets in February is fully functional again

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Jaish facility in Balakot bombed by IAF jets in February is fully functional again

The development, with the blessings of Pakistan, follows India’s August decisions to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

INDIA Updated: Sep 22, 2019 10:28 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Picture of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility destroyed by Indian Ar Force strikes in Balakot, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019.
Picture of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility destroyed by Indian Ar Force strikes in Balakot, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019. (Photo: ANI)

Almost seven months after Indian Air Force jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist facility in Pakistan’s Balakot, the globally proscribed group has revived the complex, where it is training 40 jihadists to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India, in the garb of a new name to avoid international scrutiny, HT has learnt.

The development, with the blessings of Pakistan, follows India’s August decisions to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

Islamabad relaxed restrictions over terror groups targeting India after August 5, when the Indian government pushed through the moves on Kashmir, and on the eve of the “Leaders dialogue on strategic responses to terrorism and violent extremism” at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak at the conference, followed by Microsoft Corp CEO Satya Nadella and others.

On February 27, IAF fighters flew deep into Pakistan to bomb the Markaz Syed Ahmad Shaheed facility at Balakot in Manshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in reprisal for a February 14 suicide car bombing in J&K’s Pulwama that killed 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force in the deadliest single attack in 30 years of insurgency. Tensions between the subcontinental neighbours escalated as a result.

According to Indian counter-terror operatives, anti-India terror groups that have kept a low profile following Pulwama and its aftermath were reactivated after August 5 with JeM operational commander Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar meeting his handlers in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, the very next day in Rawalpindi to formulate a jihadist response to the Indian moves on Kashmir.

Intelligence inputs indicate that JeM may target not only Jammu and Kashmir but also Gujarat and Maharashtra under a new name to avoid international scrutiny. Pakistan-based terror groups have been asked to use Kashmiri- origin terrorists and,in this context, are also reviving dormant groups like the Al Umnar Mujahideen led by Mushtaq Zargar alias Latram.

Pakistan watchers say that the Jaish has started advanced “daura tarbiya” courses for 50 jihadists in Markaz Subhan Allah and Markaz Usman-o-Ali in Bahawalpur, with the Peshawar and Jamrud facilities also being activated for action in Kashmir. Daurya tarbiya is a religious programme designed to radicalise a recipient and a precursor to weapons and subversive training.

Refresher courses have been started by the terror group in its camps in Manshera, Gulpur and Kotli with the Balakot facility being reactivated for jihad training for the first time after the Indian air strike. The reactivation of the Balakot facility has been confirmed by the Indian national security establishment and the highest levels of government have been informed.

While Jaish has intensified its recruitment drive for Kashmir action in places like Charsada, Mardan and Swabi of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , the terror group, headed by the now terminally ill global terrorist Masood Azhar, has decided to divert its cadre from the Afghanistan front to J&K in a phased manner.

According to intelligence reports, around 100 Jaish cadre are waiting at launch pads across the Poonch and Rajouri sectors at Neelum/Leepa Valley with the focus of planned attacks on Jammu and not Srinagar. Inputs reveal that Mufti Asghar on August 11 itself had instructed his cadre in Sialkot to focus on the army cantonment in Jammu as well as security force convoys plying on the national highway.

“We have reports about Jaish fidayeen (suicide attackers) waiting for lifting of full telecom restrictions in the state to infiltrate and launch attacks,” said a national security official on condition of anonymity.

In Jaish’s Madina Madina fortnightly magazine, Talha Saif, on behalf of Masood Azhar, criticised the leaders of some Muslim countries for coming under the influence of the United States, and simultaneously urged Indian Muslims to rise against the Narendra Modi government.

Rawalpindi’s other terror arm, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) , has reactivated its terror camps post the revocation of Article 370, including aquatic facilities at Mangla in Mirpur and Head Maral in Sialkot while its leader Hafeez Saeed is in custody in Lahore.

According to available inputs, Lashkar has started a two-month-long refresher course at its Manshera camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while its second line leadership, led by Saeed’s son Talha, is advocating jihad in Kashmir through sermons and video messages.

The third group, Hizbul Mujahideen, has also been activated after its leaders met ISI handlers on August 26 and tasked with infiltrating its cadre across the Gurez sector.

First Published: Sep 22, 2019 04:45 I ST

India: Center working on a plan to create 50,000 jobs in Jammu and Kashmir

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Center working on new plan to create 50,000 jobs in Jammu and Kashmir

The measures include a paramilitary and military recruitment drive in the two newly-formed Union territories and efforts to develop the food processing and dairy industries, an official aware of the details said on condition of anonymity.

INDIA Updated: Aug 27, 2019 23:42 IST

Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Centre is set to announce a slew of development measures for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh soon to boost the local economies and generate employment, according to officials aware of the development.
The Center is set to announce a slew of development measures for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh soon to boost the local economies and generate employment, according to officials aware of the development. (AP Photo)

The Center is set to announce a slew of development measures for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh soon to boost the local economies and generate employment, according to officials aware of the development.

The measures include a paramilitary and military recruitment drive in the two newly-formed Union territories and efforts to develop the food processing and dairy industries, an official aware of the details said on condition of anonymity. The government is considering recruiting as many as 50,000 young people for the paramilitary forces from Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla on Tuesday held a high-level inter-ministerial meeting to discuss the measures to be rolled out. “A meeting was held with various departments to access the implementation of central schemes in Jammu and Kashmir and initiatives to be taken to expedite the return of normalcy,” a home ministry spokesperson said without giving details.

The Center stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and divided it into two Union territories earlier this month. Restrictions were imposed on people’s movement and telecom connectivity was suspended as a pre-preemptive measure to prevent unrest and protests against the move.

The government has said that curbs are being removed in a phased manner. High schools in areas unlikely to witness agitations will be opened from Wednesday, the Jammu and Kashmir administration said.

Officials said the proposed development measures will be presented before the Union cabinet soon. The measures to be announced are primarily aimed at achieving fast-paced development, helping the young acquire skills for employment, they added.

Officials said a pilot project is being launched in seven districts of the Kashmir Valley and two in the Jammu region and Ladakh. They added district-level “skill planning” committees will also be formed and will comprise industry representatives, academics and corporate entities. Developing the food-processing and dairy industries will be one of the keys areas of focus, they added.

Officials said the Center was keen that the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh understand the benefits of the removal of Constitution’s Article 370 that gave the erstwhile state special status.

“The Centre is keen that the people understand that removal of special status is not detrimental but on the contrary beneficial for them and the next generation,” said a government official, who is a part of the exercise of rolling out the measures, on condition of anonymity.

The government is also considering opening career counselling centers. And with the help of the corporate sector, it also wants to hold “job melas,” or fairs, in the Union territories.

First Published: Aug 27, 2019 23:28 IST

India: Government to push Aadhaar enrollment in Kashmir

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Government to push Aadhaar enrollment in Kashmir

The process will accelerate once the bifurcation of the region into two Union Territories is complete on October 31, the officials added.

INDIA Updated: Aug 27, 2019 07:30 IST

Rajeev Jayaswal
Rajeev Jayaswal

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The move is also significant as J&K will also go for polls after it is formally made a Union Territory.
The move is also significant as J&K will also go for polls after it is formally made a Union Territory. (Waseem Andrabi / Hindustan Times)

The Center plans to intensify Aadhaar enrollments in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), particularly the Kashmir Valley where the penetration of the unique ID that is the key to government benefits is very low, so as to ensure that benefits of welfare schemes reach to all residents, three government officials said requesting anonymity.

The process will accelerate once the bifurcation of the region into two Union Territories is complete on October 31, the officials added.

“Aadhaar is a successful tool for the transfer of subsidies and implementation of welfare schemes. The government is committed for development of J&K, and Aadhaar will be one of the key tools that will help the Center in fulfilling its commitment,” one of the officials said.

Although Aadhaar coverage in J&K has reached about 78%, there are pockets where its penetration is still very low, the official said referring to the Aadhaar dashboard run by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the statutory authority that is mandated to issue the Aadhaar numbers to Indian residents.

The Lok Sabha on August 6 gave its nod to the resolution scrapping special status to Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and paved way for the bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories – J&K (with legislature) and Ladakh (without legislature). The Rajya Sabha passed the resolution on August 5. The President, on August 9, gave ascent to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. The changes will facilitate the complete integration of the region with India and ensure that all welfare programs of the Center apply to the erstwhile state as well, Union home minister Amit Shah said in Parliament.

Also Read| India’s Jammu and Kashmir move historic blunder: Imran Khan

Aadhaar enrollment has been happening in J&K but certain areas, mainly in the Valley, need special attention, which can be done through banks, post offices and Common Services Centers (CSCs), a second official said. The ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) is willing to open CSCs at panchayats for this purpose, this person added. About 300,000 CSCs help the Center in implementing its eGovernance programs throughout the country.

“An intensive campaign [for Aadhaar enrollment] is expected after October 31 and CSCs need no more than a week to launch it in the entire J&K,” the first official said. The purpose of the government is to ensure that every household in the Valley must get benefits of Central schemes such as Ujjwala yojana, he explained.

Also Watch: Shehla Rashid defends tweets alleging army excesses in Jammu & Kashmir

 

Shehla Rashid defends tweets alleging army excesses in Jammu & Kashmir
Former JNU student Shehla Rashid has defended her tweets where she accused the Army of torturing people in the Kashmir valley following the abrogation of Article 370.
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Spokespersons of UIDAI and MeitY did not immediately respond to queries seeking comment.

The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), was launched by the Narendra Modi government on May 1, 2016 to provide clean cooking fuel to poor households especially in rural areas. The deposit-free cooking gas connections have not only helped more than 70 million poor households but also generated tremendous amount of goodwill to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The move is also significant as J&K will also go for polls after it is formally made a Union Territory.

First Published: Aug 27, 2019 05:44 IST

3 Amazing Sights in India Besides the Taj Mahal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Amazing Sights in India Besides the Taj Mahal

Book a trip to India, and there is one staple sight you’re going to try and see — the Taj Mahal. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to visit India’s most popular tourist destination, but to visit the Taj Mahal and only the Taj Mahal would mean missing out on some of the most breathtaking views a country could offer.

Before you start filling up your calendar with the things you’ll see and do, make sure the following three sights are somewhere on your itinerary. They’ll help you see a side of India you didn’t know existed while also providing a glimpse into the early history of the South Asian nation.

Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi

Credit: Boris Stroujko / Shutterstock.com

As a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) site, Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi draws plenty of attention. The tomb, which shares a similar appearance to the famed Taj Mahal, was built in 1565 A.D. after the death of Humayun, also known as Nasir-ud-Din Muhammad. The second emperor of the Mughal Empire is joined by several other Mughal rulers, who are buried within the walls of Humayun’s Tomb.

When Humayun passed away after a fall down a flight of stairs, his widow, Queen Bega Begum, undertook the task of having a mausoleum built for the emperor. Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyas took on the job under the supervision of Bega Begum.

Once an incredible structure marked by ornate designs, a lack of maintenance over the years allowed much of it to pale. In the early 20th century, a restoration project tackled the decaying structure and the surrounding gardens, which were taken over by the English in the 19th century, and returned the building to its original form.

Basgo Monastery, Ladakh

Credit: Rudra Narayan Mitra / Shutterstock.com

Located in the Leh District of Basgo, some 24 miles from Leh, travelers will find the remains of the Basgo Monastery. In 1680, the monastery was constructed for the Namgyal rulers who overtook the land. Built from bricks of mud, the monastery overlooks Ladakh and is tucked between the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges.

Grags-pa-bum, a Tibetan king, started construction of the structure. At the center of the manmade complex is a series of temples dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha, or fifth incarnation of Sakyamuni, or Buddha. Murals that depict snippets of the life of Buddha are painted along the interior walls.

Though much of the monastery has deteriorated over time, it’s still used for ceremonies and holidays by the inhabitants of the nearby Hemis monastery.

Sundarbans, West Bengal

Credit: Santhosh Varghese / Shutterstock.com

Not every incredible sight in India is going to be manmade. In West Bengal, travelers will find the Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Found on the southeastern tip of the 24 Paraganas district, the Sundarbans is named for the Sundari mangrove plant that grows within the region.

The wilds of West Bengal come to life in the Sundarbans, which is the world’s largest deltaic mangrove forest. Along with a striking beauty and exotic appearance, the Sundarbans are home to an icon of India — the Royal Bengal Tiger.

This natural stretch of mangrove offers a unique experience for anyone who travels down the still waters that run alongside vibrant green coastlines. Visitors will get to say they’ve been inside the world’s largest estuarine forest and existed among tigers and crocodiles.

India/China: Trade point planned at India-China LAC

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Trade point planned at India-China LAC

Although the Indian Army’s spokesperson did not respond to queries, three officials familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that the army has cleared the opening of the post, and that it is up to the government now.

INDIA Updated: Jul 19, 2019 07:09 IST

Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India news,China,India
Image for representation(HT file photo)

The Indian Army has approved the opening of a new trading point with China at Dumchelle in Ladakh, the third such along India’s disputed, albeit peaceful 3,488-km border with China in a confidence building measure ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s October visit.

Although the Indian Army’s spokesperson did not respond to queries, three officials familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that the army has cleared the opening of the post, and that it is up to the government now.

Hindustan Times learns that the trading post could open as soon as the end of the year and that work has already started on the customs check point and the road to it. The only thing left is for the Cabinet Committee on Security to sign off.

Dumchelle is in Southern Ladakh, and is strategically located between Chushul , one of the five designated Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) meeting points between the Indian and Chinese armies, and Demchok in Southern Ladakh.

The two other recognised trading points with China are Lipulekh in Uttrakhand and Nathu La in Sikkim. Predetermined, locally made items are traded through these points with an aim of boosting the local economy.

President Xi is scheduled to be in India in October for an informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Opening up another trading point along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) would be a major confidence building measure, analysts said.

Although the Dumchelle trading point will be new, trade at the border town between residents of Ladakh and the Tibetans from the other side has a long history. Goods are bought and sold at Dumchelle regularly. In addition, there is a three-week-long fair at Dumchelle where locals from both sides participate.

In the past, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has even used the hotline, which connects military commanders on both sides of the border and which is used to sort out minor issues, to discuss dates of the fair. “It is an informal arrangement between the two sides,” a senior serving Indian Army officer said.

“It is a traditional trade route. In the past, the army has written to the government advising it to either completely stop the trade or formalise the exchange,” a government official added.

The current trade through Dumchelle is informal and designating it a trading point will automatically lead to “supervision of the goods flowing through this area. Also, there could be revenue implications for the government,” this person said. “Ladakh is flooded with Chinese made goods, much of which is traded through this particular point.”

India-China ties which hit a low during the 73-day long stand-off between the armies of the two countries in the Doklam plateau in Sikkim in 2017 warmed after the historic informal summit at Wuhan between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi in April 2018. Both leaders agreed to give “strategic” guidance to the respective militaries to reduce border tensions.

Nonetheless, caution on either side is understandable. The LAC is not demarcated. To address this, the two countries have agreed to elaborate mechanism that includes banner drills and communication between local commanders through established “hotlines” to ensure minor issues do not escalate into major ones.

First Published: Jul 19, 2019 06:58 IST