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Jammu
National Seminar on 'devolution of Powers in J&K' concludes
KT NEWS SERVICE
"
JAMMU, Nov 24: The three Day National Seminar on Devolution of Powers in Jammu and Kashmir held in university of Jammu which was organized by the Dean Research Studies and Department of Sociology, University of Jammu in collaboration with Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation concluded here on Friday.

Various delegates from different universities of India and from university of Jammu deliberated on various themes related to Devolution of power in Jammu and Kashmir. The second day of the seminar had three very vibrant sessions. The first session was on the sub theme of Devolution of Power- concept, issues and Indian experiments which was chaired by Prof Balveer Arora. There were five speakers in the session. Prof Ashutosh Kumar from Panjab University Chandigarh spoke on ‘ States and Regions as analytical categories’ wherein he emphasized on the three processes namely assertion of identity in Indian politics, convergence of party agendas of national and state level political parties and economic liberalization. He elaborated on the smaller states and argued that most identities are becoming more region specific.

Dr Rekha Saxena from Delhi University spoke on Asymmetrical federalism in which she differentiated between the political asymmetry and constitutional asymmetry. The third speaker was Dr Gul Mohd Wani from University of Kashmir who spoke on Hill development Councils and tendency towards majoritarianism. He emphasized that Nation state model has inherent tendency to flatten diversity. He suggested that there should be further devolution of powers in Hill Development councils and also mentioned about autonomy of autonomy. Prof Sandhya Goswami from Guwahati University focused on the politics in Assam with specific emphasis on tribal and non tribals of Assam. She elaborated on the creation of autonomous regions without guaranteeing the constitutional rights of other communities living there cannot solve the problem but it aggravates the situation. Dr Nagendra Rao from University of Jammu in his paper compared the experience of devolution of Power in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Prof Abha Chauhan from University of Jammu was the discussant of the first session.The second session was on the sub theme ‘ Demand for devolution of powers in J and K’ which was chaired by Sh M Y Tarigami, MLA and there were three speakers in this session. Prof. Rekha Chowdhary from University of Jammu in her presentation emphasized the need of devolution of powers at the regional and sub-regional levels. She stated that people in Jammu and Ladakh do not identify with Article 370 and state autonomy, because the political discourse of autonomy is exclusive and does not reflect the political aspirations of people of these two regions.

Zafar Chowdhary ,senior Journalist in his presentation focused on two regions Pir Panchal and Chenab valley wherein he emphasized on the regional imbalances based on the factual realities and figures. These imbalances were also compared with the Jammu region in his presentation. He further argued that the deep sense of discrimination in the regions has led the people to think in terms of ‘shadow zones of J&K’.

Prof M. Tajuddin from University of Jammu discussed whether autonomy or devolution is a proper solution to wipe out the political grievances of J & K state. He highlighted that autonomy the real problem lies with the issue of governance and to. Moreover how to organize the governance is the main issue. Democracy is the only suited means through which governance can be organized.

The third session was on Ladakh region wherein the chairpersons of Autonomous Hill councils of Leh and Kargil namely Rigzin Spalbar and Ahmed Ali Khan Kacho and Sonam Chosjar were the speakers. The session was chaired by Prof Noor A Baba of University of Kashmir and Anuradha Bhasin was the discussant. This session brought up many important issues including history of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils (LAHDC), their composition, functioning, success and the challenges faced by Hill councils. Sonam Chosjar threw light on the history of LAHDC, utility of Hill Councils, Post 2002 functioning of these councils and whether replication of Hill Councils in other parts of the state is viable or not. Demand of Hill councils started in late 1940s and 50s due to backwardness of the region and step-motherly treatment by the state government. In 1995 LAHDC was established and it has helped in decentralization of power. The demand from other parts of the state for establishment of development councils shows the success of Hill Development Councils. Rigzin Spalbar spoke about devolution of power in Ladakh and shared his experience about LAHDC. Local conflict between Buddhists and Muslims led to development of Hill Council in Leh and Kargil in 1995 and 2003 respectively. Shortcoming of the LAHDC Act includes non representation of women and weaker sections, tax collected credited to state revenue, lack of staff, inter-district advisory body etc. Ahmed Ali Khan Kacho highlighted the role of LAHDC in the development of people in Ladakh and inclusion of people in decision-making due to Hill Councils.

Anuradha Bhasin discussed the three presentations made by speakers. She was of the view that although LAHDCs are doing well however community level organizations in other parts of the state. The real power in democracy flows from bottom to top so instead of devolution there is evolution of power. Rich discussion followed the session.

The third and Final Day had two important sessions on Panchayati Raj. The sessions were chaired by Dr George Mathew and Prof Rajni Dhingra. The discussant for the session was Dr Sandeep Singh. There were seven speakers who spoke on different issues and dimensions related to Panchayati Raj. Prof N A Baba from University of Kashmir discussed that there is no institution in society which begins with perfection and so was the case of Panchayati Raj institutions in Jammu and Kashmir which started in 1980s. However the elections of 2011 were marked by change because even separatists did not ask people to boycott them. But there is still a lot to be done in the context of Panchayats in J & K. Aijaz Ashraf Wani from University of Kashmir presented paper on ‘Conflict, Governance and Panchayati Raj in Kashmir’. He described Jammu and Kashmir as ‘mini-India’ in terms of diversity. He further added that if democracy would have been given chance earlier the conflict situation in Kashmir could have been prevented. He found Panchayats engulfed by corruption at all levels and provided statistics of bribe given to and by Panchs and Sarpanchs. Dr. Pampa Mukherjee from Panjab University, Chandigarh spoke on the three states of Jharkhand, Uttrakhand and Chattishgarh emphasizing the reflection of Panchayati Raj institutions in these states.

Prof. Abha Chauhan from University of Jammu focused on women participation and performance in Panchayati Raj system in Madhya Pradesh and how parallels could be inferred for J &K. Dr Vishav Raksha from University of Jammu spoke on ‘Women in Panchayats taking up a case of panchayats of block Udhampur’. She highlighted how the instrument of reservation has resulted in women gaining confidence and having a sense of empowerment, how entry into panchayats has resulted in active participation of women in taking up responsibility of their own villages, thus being part of the power structure. Dr Suresh Babu from University of Jammu spoke on ‘Dislocations of transformative politics: cultural deficit of the devolution of local self governance’. He in his presentation critically evaluated the cultural problems embedded within the structures of state that seems to block the idea of devolution of the power to the local self-governing institutions.

The seminar concluded with discussing and deliberating certain recommendations arising out of the various deliberations of this Seminar. Ms Sushoba Barve, Prof Rekha Chowdhary and Prof Abha Chauhan expressed their deep satisfaction in being able to reach at certain concrete recommendations which would result in having a better understanding, review of the present power structure and implementation of the various policies related to devolution of Powers in Jammu and Kashmir.


News Updated at : Saturday, November 24, 2012
 
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