Omar Abdullah on Times Now: HDI to Poverty, Are Ex-CM's Claims on J&K Accurate?

·6 min read

Ahead of the second anniversary of abrogation of Article 370, Times Now Group Editor Navika Kumar interviewed former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah and spoke about development in the erstwhile state.

Abdullah argued that the move hasn’t done any good for Jammu and Kashmir and went on to state a few facts and figures to prove his point.

In the context of this conversation, we looked at some of the statistics cited by the former chief minister to see if the indicators given by him were correct and if Jammu and Kashmir had indeed performed well on these socio-economic indicators, even before Article 370 was effectively revoked.

Also Read: ‘My Life in Kashmir’ – A Year Since the Abrogation of Article 370

1. LIFE EXPECTANCY

Abdullah pointed out that Jammu and Kashmir is third in life expectancy as compared to the rest of the country and that UP is the lowest in the country.

Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the number of years an average person is expected to live.

According to the data by the Reserve Bank of India, for the period 2013-2017, Jammu and Kashmir ranked number three in life expectancy in the country. The life expectancy at birth is 74.1, which is higher than the national average.

The RBI data also shows that the life expectancy has improved from 73.5 between 2012-2016.

And the ranking for Uttar Pradesh is indeed the lowest.

2. NUMBER OF DOCTORS IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR

The next thing that Abdullah pointed out was the number of doctors in Jammu and Kashmir. He said, “We are seventh in terms of the number of doctors available for the population, we were seventh before 2019.”

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), there should be one doctor for every 1,000 people. And, as per an answer given in the Lok Sabha in August 2018, in Jammu and Kashmir, one doctor serves 3,060 people.

The number is better than a lot of other states but is higher than the WHO's guidelines on the doctor-patient ratio.

Also Read: Did Article 370 Prevent Development in J&K? Here Are the Stats

3. POVERTY INDEX

Abdullah also said that in terms of poverty index, "Jammu and Kashmir is amongst the lowest states in the country.”

According to RBI, India’s poverty index in the year 2011-2012 was 21.9 percent whereas that of Jammu and Kashmir was 10.4 percent.

Poverty rate is the lowest for the state of Goa at 5.1 percent, followed by Kerala at 7.1 percent and Sikkim at 8.2 percent.

The states with the highest poverty index are Chhattisgarh at 39.9 percent, Jharkhand at 37 percent and Manipur at 36.9 percent.

Also Read: Misinformation, Rumours Behind COVID Vaccine Hesitancy in Kashmir

4. INFANT MORTALITY RATE

Abdullah also pointed out that Jammu and Kashmir is tenth in the country in terms of infant mortality rate.

The infant mortality rate is the number of deaths per 1,000 live births under the age of one. It is the overall indicator of the health status of a country.

As per the SRS bulletin, the infant mortality rate for India is at 32, while that of Jammu and Kashmir is at 22. Jammu and Kashmir indeed has lower infant mortality rate as compared to many other Indian states and UTs.

5. HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX

While speaking about the human development index, Abdullah said that Jammu and Kashmir ranks higher than Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

As per the 2019 Human Development report published by the State Bank of India, Jammu and Kashmir ranked higher than Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh on the parameter in 2017. While J&k ranks 9, Gujarat ranks 12 and Andhra Pradesh ranks 19.

Also Read: ‘No J&K Civilian Knew of Art 370 Abrogation’: Govt To Rajya Sabha

Further, Abdullah credited several projects such as medical colleges, central universities, construction of tunnels and widening of a national highway, to the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government.

But, here's the full picture.

  • "Ghulam Nabi Azad as health minister gave the medical colleges": In 2014, the then Union Health and Family Welfare Minister had sanctioned five medical colleges in Jammu and Kashmir. However, as per a 2018 article published by The Tribune, the colleges weren't functional. Former Union Health Minister JP Nadda and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had laid the foundation stones of three of the five medical colleges in 2016, and of the remaining two in 2017.

  • "Manmohan Singh gave the central universities": While it is true that the UPA government did sanction two central universities in 2009, one for Jammu and there other for Kashmir, however, according to a 2019 PTI article, the present NDA government approved expenditure for setting up of 13 new central universities with Jammu and Kashmir getting two of them.

  • "Manmohan Singh gave the four-lane highway between Jammu and Srinagar": In 2009, the then minister of state in the ministry of road, transport and highways, RPN Singh answered a question in Lok Sabha mentioning that the National Highway from Jammu to Srinagar "is to be four-laned under National Highways Development Project (NHDP)" and that it was targeted to be completed by 2015.

A PTI article published on The Hindu quoting officials in Jammu in 2011 mentioned about the commencement of the work related to widening the said highway. Further, a 2015 answer given in Rajya Sabha stated that the four-laning work was in progress and that it was targeted to be completed by June 2017.

However, another PTI article from 2020 quoting a senior government official stated that the widening of the said highway would take another 1.5 years for completion.

  • "The tunnel in Banihal, the tunnel in Nashri, were started when Manmohan Singh was prime minister": The construction of Chenani-Nashri tunnel started in May 2011 and the work finished in December 2016. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated it in April 2017. Regarding the Banihal-Qazigund tunnel, the work began in 2011 and, according to a PTI article, it took 10 years to build the 8.5 km-long tunnel at a cost of Rs 21,00 crore.

Clearly, Abdullah's assertion that Jammu and Kashmir was doing well even before Article 370 was revoked is mostly supported by the data that he has provided.

Also Read: 1 Year Post Abrogation of Article 370: ‘India Left Kashmir Behind’

. Read more on India by The Quint.Pegasus Project: SC Registrars, Lawyers of High-Profile Clients in Leaked ListOmar Abdullah on Times Now: HDI to Poverty, Are Ex-CM's Claims on J&K Accurate? . Read more on India by The Quint.

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