Time to re­visit Ar­ti­cle 370!

SP's MAI - - EDITOR’S DESK - Jayant Baran­wal Pub­lisher & Edi­tor-in-Chief

One of the first con­tro­ver­sies that erupted af­ter Naren­dra Modi took over as the Prime Min­is­ter was the is­sue of Ar­ti­cle 370. When Ji­ten­dra Singh, Min­is­ter of State in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice (PMO), raked up the is­sue, all hell broke loose with the Jammu and Kash­mir Chief Min­is­ter, Omar Ab­dul­lah, tweet­ing that Ar­ti­cle 370 was the only con­sti­tu­tional link be­tween J&K and the rest of In­dia and that “long af­ter Modi Govern­ment is a dis­tant mem­ory ei­ther J&K won’t be part of In­dia or Ar­ti­cle 370 will still ex­ist.”

It is a pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion and it re­mains to be seen how the BJP-led Govern­ment is go­ing to deal with it. Prime Min­is­ter Modi is sched­uled for his first of­fi­cial visit to the Kash­mir Val­ley on July 4 wherein se­cu­rity and other is­sues (in­clud­ing Ar­ti­cle 370) are re­port­edly go­ing to be dis­cussed.

Ar­ti­cle 370 spec­i­fies that ex­cept for de­fence, for­eign af­fairs, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and an­cil­lary mat­ters, the Par­lia­ment needs the State Govern­ment’s con­cur­rence for ap­ply­ing all other laws. Thus the state’s res­i­dents live un­der a sep­a­rate set of laws, in­clud­ing those re­lated to ci­ti­zen­ship, own­er­ship of property, and fun­da­men­tal rights, as com­pared to other In­di­ans. There has been de­mand by the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh (RSS) for ab­ro­ga­tion of Ar­ti­cle 370.

We have two com­pre­hen­sive view­points on Ar­ti­cle 370, one by Gen­eral (Retd) V.P. Ma­lik and the other by Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch, both giv­ing dif­fer­ing points of view, but the bot­tom­line is the ne­ces­sity to re­visit Ar­ti­cle 370. Gen­eral Ma­lik has said that in the present cir­cum­stances, it would be prefer­able to chip away Ar­ti­cle 370, as has been done in the past, in­stead of rush­ing for its elim­i­na­tion. Gen­eral Ka­toch has a more rad­i­cal ap­proach stat­ing that it should have been con­signed to his­tory as it was a tem­po­rary pro­vi­sion.

An­other im­por­tant is­sue we have in this is­sue is that of cre­at­ing a de­fence in­dus­trial base. Vice Ad­mi­ral (Retd) Anup Singh has out­lined how in the last few years, de­fence needs have been opened up to the pri­vate sec­tor and for­eign in­vest­ment, with the aim of re­struc­tur­ing and de­vel­op­ing the de­fence in­dus­try, largely un­tapped by the pri­vate sec­tor. In con­so­nance with this think­ing, the new govern­ment has pro­posed fur­ther lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of for­eign di­rect in­vest- ment in de­fence, go­ing up to 100 per cent. This, in­deed, is a for­ward­look­ing de­ci­sion and it is sincerely hoped that In­dia not only gets the best of tech­nolo­gies, but also is able to build its own de­fence in­dus­trial base at the ear­li­est.

In our Na­tional Agenda sec­tion, we have an­other in­ter­est­ing piece by Ran­jeet Ku­mar on the new govern­ment’s foray in nu­clear diplo­macy by rat­i­fy­ing the In­dia spe­cific safe­guard agree­ment called the additional pro­to­col of the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency. At the same time, France is step­ping up its de­fence and nu­clear co­op­er­a­tion with In­dia, while it is await­ing for the Rafale deal to come to a clo­sure. These are big steps be­ing taken by the Naren­dra Modi Govern­ment and would cer­tainly have a bear­ing on the ro­bust­ness of the govern­ment. We look for­ward to your feed­back as to im­prove our cov­er­age. Happy read­ing !

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