Economic development and disparities it creates globally are the issues confronted by the policy makers. These issues are emanating and giving way to new issues and challenges like a never ending conundrum. Same is the story of India and the widening gulf between Haves and Have not.
While some states have achieved new economic heights, but the social indicators of the so-called economically developed states lag behind. Among other issues, forced migration has been a very contentious issue.
Traditionally migration is witnessed in areas of high economic activity. But in Kashmir, we witness an intriguing phenomenon. Here economic activities are limited, industrial development trying to pick up since ages and resources constrained. But still every year people from other states flock here to the extent that it has created a public discourse. Among the migrated lots, begging remains to be the issue we encounter every other day.
You board a local bus or walk down a street, scores of mendicants will pounce on you. These people come in different age groups and states but the most disheartening is to see children who should have been going to some school. It is startling how children across India are being guaranteed right to education and increasing efforts are made to provide them a skill set yet, we seem to overlook these unfortunate children.
We are sure if their issues are taken as a case study and investigated, glaring human rights violations are evident to surface. It is simply unfortunate to see these children in dilapidated state yet we overlook them and walk past as if they are no better than the stray dogs just sitting next to them!
There is yet another aspect to it. This begging has emerged as a silent industry wherein people have business associated to it. It still remains a question as to how people who cannot even walk an inch manage to travel thousands of miles and end up in Kashmir. This won’t be possible unless it is being sustained in a systematic way.
Our cities had a unique distinction of being slum free. But over these years, we have seen how government lands which could be used for vital interests of the state and its people are turned into dark patches. With the result, the unregulated flux of beggars is emerging as a law and order problem where we have seen numerous instances of crime being committed by these people.
Kashmir has been an open society and it is known for its hospitality for ages. Having said that we need to make a clear distinction between people who come from outside to work here and contribute towards its progress and its people. We acknowledge the hardworking people so much that villages, which traditionally were dominated by local labour, are increasingly becoming lucrative for outsiders. They can be seen working even in our paddy fields!
So there is a dire need to identify the non-state subjects and issuing work permits besides taking corrective efforts to handle this mess of begging. This would not only help to regulate labour, ensure human rights to these unfortunate people, but also throttle the people who facilitate this murky affair.
This won’t be a difficult task for the government looking at the way Adhaar project was implemented with full political will and policy support. This would also contribute to streamline the unorganized and organized segment of our economy.
For this government needs to take this issue with state and Delhi besides bringing necessary legislations. If this issue is not taken seriously now, this is bound to engulf our state in ways we cannot even imagine of.
Sajad-ul-Haq Lone is an engineering student aspiring to be an IAS officer.