Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India, and the site of a decades-long conflict. It is bordered by Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in the south, and Pakistan and China on either side.
The First Kashmir War (1947-48) came at a time when Pakistan was still in disarray following Partition, and was thus highly asymmetric.
India then moved to the U.N Security Council resulting in the passage of Resolution 47 that set the condition of a plebiscite (to be conducted by the Indian state) and of Pakistan’s withdrawal from Jammu and Kashmir. The Resolution has become one of the sites of contestation on the Kashmir issue.
Today, different parts of Kashmir are under different powers. Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan were seized by Pakistan during in the First Kashmir War. Aksai Chin was occupied by China during the 1962 war with India, and a portion of Gilgit Baltistan was gifted to China by Pakistan in recognition of their alliance vis-a-vis India.
Roots of Conflict
The area of Jammu and Kashmir was, at the time of Independence, a princely state under Maharaja Hari Singh. The monarch was Hindu, but the state itself had a Muslim majority population, many of whom supported the Muslim League. Maharaja Singh initially refused to accede to both India and Pakistan, but this changed following the violation of a standstill agreement by Pakistan. Nehru agreed to assist the Maharaja on the condition that he sign an Instrument of Accession.
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has a population of 12.5 million, as per the 2011 Census and a sex ratio of 889 per 1000 males, putting it far below the national average of 943. The literacy rate stands at 76.25% for men and 56.43% for women. There are 85 million Muslims living in J&K, making it the only Muslim majority state in India. Hindus number at 35 million, Sikhs at 2.3 million and Christians at 35,000. The state is predominantly rural at 72.63 percent as of 2011. Srinagar has the highest proportion of urban residents at 98.6 percent.
The gross state domestic product (GSDP) of Jammu & Kashmir was US$14.46 billion in 2014-15, putting it in the lower third in state ranking. Militancy and violence have impeded the state’s growth, however the GSDP has continued to grow at an compound annual rate of 9.03% since 2004-05.
The agriculture sector forms the bulk of J&K’s economy, with 70% of its population reliant on it for their livelihood. The industries sector constitutes 25.87% of the GSDP (at constant 2004-05 prices), and J&K is hoping to attract further investment in this sector through the Make in India. Tourism is another important source of income for the state, and is on the road to recovery following a slump in 2001-02 when militancy-related deaths peaked.
The key political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are the J&K People’s Democratic Party (JKPDP), J&K National Conference (JKNC), BJP and Congress. Following the 2014 Assembly Elections, the PDP-BJP alliance came to power headed by Mehbooba Mufti. Mufti is the first woman Chief Minister of the state. The main opposing alliance of the JKNC and Congress won only 27 out 89 seats. The opposition leader, Omar Abdullah, is the scion of one of the first families of Indian politics, with his father and grandfather both having served as Chief Ministers of the state.
M.J Akbar, Kashmir: Behind the Vale (Lotus Collection Roli Books, 2011)
Tariq Ali, Kashmir: A Case for Freedom (Verso, 2011)