Think hundred times before questioning this Army

Shubham sharma
[ June 12, 2017 ] Over 14000 students are undergoing students in defence run schools across Jammu and Kashmir. This school program is being run under Indian Army launched Sadhbhavana. “It was launched in early 90s with an aim to reach out to the population of Jammu and Kashmir. The benefits accrued from Sadhbhavana in improving the social indices, infrastructure and consolidating the peace dividends in the states are far in excess of what was perceived during its conceptualization. In the last three years only, Army has provided medical aid to approximately 3.68 lakh people, treated over 4.57 lakh animals and conducted over 200 National Integration Tours wherein in excess of 5000 beneficiaries visited other States of the country. Army is also actively involved in skilling the youth of the state to further facilitate their employment. Sourced through Army’s own budget, people friendly projects are being executed year after year to ameliorate the conditions of people living in far flung regions of the State. The success of any goodwill initiative can be measured by its popularity, active participation and number of beneficiaries, which, in case of Sadhbhavana run into millions. As an instrument of State, it remains the endeavour of army to contribute in the wellbeing of citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and Sadhbhavana is specifically designed for it. Indian Army remains committed to continue with its efforts to meet aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir through this unique program.Jammu and Kashmir , has enjoyed many benefits from the presence of the Army.While the Army’s presence apart from its deployment on the Line of Control (LoC) in the major cities and towns in the Valley was an unavoidable necessity in earlier years since the late 1980s. If the Valley has again become a destination for tourists, it is only because of the efforts of Army . The central and state police could manage some of the districts and towns which had been almost taken over by Pakistan army/ISI supported terrorists.The presence of the army in any area in Jammu and Kashmir has been a catalyst in its development.Being manpower intensive, the army requires considerable administrative support for its routine functioning. Take for example rations.While rice, wheat-flour and cereals may be procured from elsewhere, the army has to fully rely on local sources for supply of perishable items like vegetables, milk, meat and poultry products.This is actually a boon in disguise for people residing in these remote areas. Because the locals who earlier could not market their produce in the hinterland due to the prohibitive transportation and storage costs, now have a buyer at their doorstep. For example, the army in J&K buys approximately 33,000 liters of milk daily.Further, since the army guarding frontiers is deployed in inaccessible areas, local means to sustain the troops have to be employed as lack of surface communication network precludes use of vehicles. In J&K, the army spends approximately Rs. 96 crores (1 crore=10 million) hiring porters and ponies every year, which is a major source of employment/earning for locals.Similarly, the army spends approximately Rs. 120 crores for hiring transport for movement of men and material within the State. This means that by its presence itself, the army is actually a major employer in the state, promoting enterprise in remote areas and ameliorating the lot of locals. The presence of the army in remote areas also promotes the improvement of infrastructure and facilities in them.If Ladakh today is a popular tourist destination, then the credit for the same goes to Indian Army as the Leh airfield was created in 1948 to facilitate landing of Indian Air Force planes carrying troops to repulse the Pakistani intruders. Similarly, the road from Leh to the spectacular Pangong Tso Lake (where the final scene of “3 Idiots” was shot) was originally a foot track which was converted into a motorable road to transport and maintain troops guarding the Sino- Indian border.In 2004, as part of Operation Sadbhavana, projects were undertaken to electrify remote rural villages and hamlets with solar panels and windmills and provide job opportunities to the poor people of these back ward areas .Two such projects by Romeo Force of Rashtriya Rifles were in Barsada and Kulali villages at the mouth of the Hill Kaka Region in Poonch district.Nine more such micro hydel projects were launched to reach out to remote areas which had not seen a bulb in this space age.The army, through various organisational headquarters, can institute a number of scholarships in urban schools, colleges and Universities. While some of these can be named after local Kashmiri heroes, some can be named after even military heroes. These scholarships should enable the students to study in some of the better institutions in the rest of India. In fact, the students ought to be given the option of even opting for a military institution if they so desire. This way, they will be able to see the other side of the uniform.The army frequently takes group of students from smaller Kashmiri towns or villages on a ‘Bharat Darshan’ or sight-seeing tour. Similar tours could be conducted, again in urban areas, but not only to see Taj Mahal and Rashtrapati Bhawan, but to military institutions like the National Defence Academy (NDA), Indian Military Academy (IMA), Indian Naval Academy (INA) or the Air Force Academy (AFA). The student profile should be from mid- to late-teens so that such visits have an inspirational and aspirational value. In fact, instead of touch and go, a system could be instituted whereby the students spend a few days at these academies, maybe during a break or something when accommodation arrangements could be made. Or sponsor a group of youngsters during Passing Out Parades at different academies.The initiative for coaching youths for engineering entrance examinations was launched in Srinagar in 2013 and is conducted by the army’s training partner Centre for Social Responsibility and Learning (CSRL) and Petronet LNG. The first batch in which five girls from Kashmir Valley received coaching in Delhi. Two of them have qualified the exam, results of which were announced on April 27. Despite numerous challenges caused by internal disturbances in Kashmir Valley since July 2016 in the wake of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces, the IIT-JEE coaching was undertaken as per the stipulated schedule by the army.This year’s outstanding result is the testimony of careful selection, excellent coaching, personalised guidance and conducive living and study environment provided at zero cost to the students. 28 students from Jammu and Kashmir have cracked the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE)-Main for admission to various IITs and engineering colleges this year with the help of the army’s Super-40 initiative. This year’s performance was the best so far with 28 successful students — nine from South Kashmir, 10 from North Kashmir, seven from Kargil and Ladakh and two from Jammu region.Kashmir is a political problem and not a military problem. Hence, both the management of the problem and the resolution has to come from a political process. Whether we do it within the country or engage with our neighbour — that’s a different subject. The army can only play the role of a facilitator by keeping violence down; so that there is room for the political process. The more army expands its role, more vulnerable it will render itself to allegations of having vested interests.