Filipino Indian Commerce & Welfare Society Inc. (FICWSI) President Majinder "James" Kumar has lauded the Indian government over the reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) as a new union territory and the implementation of progressive laws and programs for its citizens.
At the same time, Kumar congratulated the people of J&K as they celebrated the 2nd anniversary of the territory's reorganisation on August 5.
Kumar heads the FICSWI, a non-government business organization composed of Indian businessmen that is involved in charitable activities and outreach programs in the Philippines. The group has been extending relief aid to various parts of the country during calamities through "Project Helpline."
During the pandemic, Kumar and FICSWI helped in donating personal protective equipment (PPEs) in various hospitals and to the Philippine National Police (PNP), reaching as high as the Chief PNP.
The Fil-Indian philanthropist praised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his decisive leadership and implementing historic decisions for the betterment of the region and its inhabitants with the passing of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019.
Under the law, Jammu and Kashmir was reconstituted into a separate union territory alongside Ladakh. Both are part of the larger region of Kashmir, which has been the subject of a dispute between India, Pakistan and China since the mid-20th century.
"The reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir and the implementation of India's main laws and economic policy will not only bring development to the region but also a better quality of living to the people that really deserves it," Kumar said emphatically.
On August 5, 2019, the Rajha Sabha (Council of States) passed a law that revoked J&K's special status. The passing of the law led J&K territory to be fully under India's Constitution. The national flag of
India was also unfurled on all government buildings inside the territory.
Under the Constitution, 890 central laws were applied to J&K, 2015 state laws were repealed, and 130 state laws were modified and applied.
Kumar, a recipient of the Philanthropist of the Year award from Asia Leaders Awards of 2020, said the passing of the law gave J&K people "rights to weaker sections or tribes" such as protection of their lands; "rights to children and senior citizens" such as education, and welfare programs; laws for good governance; laws for grassroots democracy and the creation of new land laws.
"Since the reorganisation of J&K, its people have already enjoyed various benefits that greatly helped in their economic status. Prime Minister Modi and the government of India have made a significant decision putting the country in greater heights," Kumar added.
Kumar referred to the cash assistance benefitting 41,684 families living at the borders; 5,674 West Pakistani refugee families; 350,000 families living at international borders; and 44,000 Kashmiri migrant families.
"Not only that the Indian government gave J&K people cash assistance; they were also assured of job security; cessation of discrimination to all refugees, tribes and minorities; and the strengthening of grassroots democracy," added Kumar.
On October 24, 2019, J&K citizens participated for the first time in the history of the election of Block Development Councils that registered a 98.3% voter turnout with 276 chairpersons elected.
Aside from securing jobs and giving rights to the people, infrastructure development also progressed in the region with 460 new government buildings constructed while 54 other projects are either finished or being completed. These include energy plants, water facilities, flyovers, tunnels, bridges, flood mitigation infrastructures, schools and roads.
The people of J&K were also re-introduced to high-quality digital education with state of the art facilities and equipment while giving away more than eight million scholarships to beneficiaries and a 59% increase on social security and pensions.
As the pandemic hit India hard, Kumar said that J&K was not left out by the government. In fact, 84 oxygen plants have been constructed in the territory as of July 2021; 4,291 COVID Care Centers were functional; and two 500 bed hospitals were set-up.
Also, 85% of its healthcare workers have been vaccinated; 100% of the residents were given first-dose vaccines; and 85,000 COVID Management kits were provided, while food and cash reliefs were delivered.
"The people of J&K are blessed with the swift and sincere action of Prime Minister Modi in protecting the people despite India being hit hard by COVID-19 and the new Delta variant. Here in the Philippines, we are one with the government in calling for cooperation and discipline in fighting this pandemic in order for us to go back to our normal lives," Kumar stated.