Back in the 90s, when Jammu & Kashmir used to be even more violent than Mortal Kombat or Madworld, it was pretty tough to imagine things returning to normalcy. In the time when it was constantly being rattled by whatever could go boom, the spirit of Kashmir emerged as the ultimate sufferer. The nauseous cocktail of militants and anti-national elements not only resulted in the bloodbath but also strangulated the essentials of any progressive society – education, healthcare, infrastructure development and youth empowerment.
However, considering the current situation of J&K, one might ask:
- How was it salvaged from the death messengers?
- Why mass massacre has become a thing of past?
- How did it come back to the national mainstream?
- How were the development schemes rolled out in remote areas?
Indian Army is the answer.
Having championed the fundamentals of War and Peace, it foremostly hushed the guns of terrorists by scattering counterinsurgency grid in entire affected areas and then launched Operation Sadbhavana to connect with people struck by instability.
Operation Sadbhavana (Operation Goodwill) was launched by the Northern Command of the Indian Army in 1998. Lt. Gen. Arjun Ray, while serving as the Commander of 14 Corps, played a particularly effective role in promoting this wonderful initiative in the militancy-affected region.
To revitalize the marginalized Kashmiri population, it follows Winning Hearts and Minds (WHAM) doctrine along with “an iron fist in a velvet glove” policy.
It conducts regular healthcare programs in remote areas where civil health workforce does not cater to need of populace. Doctors in uniform are real blessings for the war-torn communities.
Under this Operation, Army Goodwill Schools (AGS) are established in economically backward areas to educate underprivileged children who have limited or nearly zero access to schools. With well-qualified teachers, state-of-the-art facilities and rigorous monitoring, these schools come as a great help in creating a better society.
To broaden the learning environment and inculcating curiosity for the unexplored, children from Kashmir are offered to visit different parts of India under Operation Sangam. Similarly, under Operation Maitree, children from other states are toured to J&K in order to get a first-hand experience of cultural diversity.
One of its primary tasks is to renovate villages reeking of gunfire and shelling by repairing footbridges and damaged roads. Their efficiency in installing infrastructure projects is simply laudable.
Senior citizens from J&K are offered ample chances to travel to new places and socialize with people over there.
Operation Ujala, a continuation of Operation Sadbhavana, was launched to reconstruct schools which were reduced to rubble in terrorist attacks.
In areas where a conventional academic route is too gruelling and so the job opportunities, Indian Army offers vocational courses so that locals can envision a better tomorrow.
Community Development Centres have been established in order to improve the living standards of economically backward sub-populations and focus on their immediate well-being.
Disadvantaged youths in sparsely inhabited areas who can’t lead a sustainable life despite having skills are offered jobs in several local projects. The youth empowerment activities of Army also promote rural entrepreneurship.
Orphanages and hostels for children are constructed to provide them basic life amenities. A lot of kids have lost their families in terror attacks.
Under the constraints of limited resources, livestock plays an integral role in the livelihood of local communities. To keep them away from any kind of threat, veterinary camps are organized focusing primarily on preventive and curative treatment for livestock.
To cope up with the fast-growing digital world, computer centres in far-flung areas have been set up to give elders as well as children a window to the outside world.