(Last Updated on : 03/04/2013)
Jammu and Kashmir is an Indian state on extreme north of the country and adorned with the Himalayan Mountain Range. It has three divisions: Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh
. The state has two capitals, Srinagar
being the summer capital and Jammu as its winter capital. In recent years Jammu and Kashmir has been the subject of international focus. Unfortunately, misunderstanding of the State`s history and its present situation has largely flawed discussion on the issue. The state is working for the overall socio-economic development of the state. Infrastructure sectors such as, roads, irrigation and basic minimum services like education, health and water supply are the areas of major thrust in the state. Given the vast opportunities, the sector constitutes one of the topmost priorities of the state. There are many districts of Jammu and Kashmir that are distinct and are important in their own way for the over all development of the state.
Kashmir is popularly known for its stunning mountainous backdrop. Jammu
attracts numerous Hindu and Muslim devotees and pilgrims through out the year. Ladakh is popular for its barren mountainous topography and the presence of Buddhist culture and monasteries. In Jammu & Kashmir, Muslims are a majority. Though Islam is practiced by 80% of the population, the state has significant minorities of Hindus. Also found in a considerate number are Buddhists, mainly in Ladakh, and Sikhs.
History of Jammu and Kashmir
The Nilamata Purana describes the Valley`s origin from the waters, a fact corroborated by prominent geologists. The name of the land was derived from the process of desiccation. Ka means "water" and Shimir means "to desiccate". Hence, Kashmir stands for "a land desiccated from water". Jammu and Kashmir came into being as a single political and geographical entity following the Treaty of Amristar between the British Government and Gulab Singh, signed on March 16, 1846. The Treaty handed over the control of the Kashmir State to the Dogra ruler of Jammu, who had earlier annexed Ladakh. Thus, a new State comprising three distinct religions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh was formed with Maharaja Gulab Singh as its founder and ruler. Jammu and Kashmir was one of about 565 princely States of India on which the British domination lapsed at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947. While the power was transferred to the people in British India, the rulers of the princely States were given an option to join either of the two Dominions- India or Pakistan.
Geography of Jammu and Kashmir
Strategically located Jammu and Kashmir State constitutes the northern most extremity of India. The state is bordered with Himachal Pradesh
to the south, Azad Kashmir to north and west, Pakistan to the southwest and People`s Republic of China to the northeast and east. Situated between 32.17 degree and 36.58 degree north latitude and 37.26 degree and 80.30 degree east longitude, the total area of the State is 22,22,236 sq km including 78114 sq km under the illegal occupation of Pakistan and 42,685 sq km under that of China, of which Pakistan illegally handed over 5130 sq km to China. The State is bounded by Pakistan, Afghanistan and China from the West to the East. The State ranks 6th in area and 17th in population among the States and Union Territories of India. The State consists of 14 districts, 59 Tehsils, 119 blocks, 3 Municipalities, 54 Towns and notified area Committee, 6477 inhabited villages and 281 uninhabited villages.
Flora and Fauna of Jammu and Kashmir is also very rich and diverse. In Jammu, the flora ranges from the thorn bush type of the arid plain to the temperate and alpine flora of the higher altitudes. In the hilly regions, varied range of wildlife can be found, including Leopard
, Cheetah, Deer
, Wild Sheep, Bear
, Brown Musk Shrew, Muskrat etc. Varieties of Snakes, Bats, Lizards and Frogs are also found in the region. The game birds in Jammu include Chakor, Snow Partridge, Pheasants, and Peacock. The dense forests of Kashmir contain Ibex
, Snow Leopard
, Musk deer
, Red bear, Black bear
Demographics of Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India that has a Muslim majority population. Though Islam is practiced by over 70% of the population of the state and by 95% of the population of the Kashmir valley, the state has large and vibrant communities of Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs. In Jammu, Hindus constitute 66% of the population and Muslims approximately 30%; In Ladakh, Buddhists constitute a little over 50% of the population, the remaining being Muslims. The people of Ladakh are of Indo-Tibetan origin, while the southern area of Jammu includes many communities tracing their ancestry to the nearby Indian states of Haryana
, as well as the city of New Delhi.
Culture of Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir has a very unique and distinct culture that has evolved and influenced by the various religions that exist in the state. In Kashmir, Dumhal is a popular dance form that is performed by the male members of the Wattal region. Women also practice a number of dance forms like Rouff. Moreover, handicrafts and fine arts are also well developed in the state. The house boats or Shikaras are a unique feature of this region that a sail through the beautiful lakes in the valley. The Dogra culture of Jammu has several similarities with that of the Punjab. Punjabi occasions like Baisakhi and Lohri
are celebrated by the people with great enthusiasm. Some of the popular performing traditions of Jammu and Kashmir are Kud, Heren, Fumenie and Jagarana, Bakh/Gwatri/Kark/Masade, Gwatri , Karak, Benthe, Bhand Pather, Chakri , Sofiana Music , Marriage songs and dance , Jabro , Alley Yate, etc. Some of the major festivals of Jammu and Kashmir are Gurez Festival, Khir Bhawani Festival, Baisakhi
Festival, Tulip Festival, Saffron Festival, Amarnathji Yatra etc.
Ladakh is renowned for its Buddhist culture in monasteries. Various Buddhist festivals and Tibetan food make the culture of this region completely different form that of Jammu and Kashmir.
Education in Jammu and Kashmir
Until 1970, Jammu and Kashmir has its own Boards and University that provide the opportunities to the residents. The education is divided into primary, middle, high secondary, college and University level. The state follows 10+2 pattern for education of children. This is handled by Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education (JKBOSE). Various private and public schools are recognised by the board to impart education to students. In addition there are various Kendriya Vidyalayas, Army schools and Sanik Schools that also impart secondary school education.
The technical college level education is carried out by various colleges such as Government College of Engineering and Technology, NIT Srinagar, Government Medical College Jammu. The general education is provided by general colleges spread across various districts. University level education is provided by University of Jammu
and University of Kashmir
Administration of Jammu and Kashmir
The flag of Jammu and Kashmir is the native plough on a red background; that is a symbol of labour, designed by New Delhi and the three stripes represent the three Indian regions namely Jammu, Vale of Kashmir, and Ladakh of the disputed territory. Like all the states of India, Jammu and Kashmir has a multi-party democratic system of governance. Main political parties include the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference, the Indian National Congress and the Jammu and Kashmir People`s Democratic Party (PDP).
The Constitution of India grants Jammu and Kashmir special autonomous status as a temporary provision. However, some Kashmiri political parties demand greater autonomy and sovereignty, while others would like to see the state fully integrated into India. Jammu & Kashmir National Conference is the largest political party in Jammu and Kashmir, India. Led at the time of Indian Independence in 1947 by Sheikh Abdullah, it has since then dominated electoral politics in the state, and is currently led by Omar Abdullah
. But it was defeated by a huge margin by Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party, which was founded in 1999 by the former Union Home Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.
Economy of Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir`s economy depends mainly on farming and animal husbandry. Though the manufacturing and services sector is small but it is growing rapidly. Several consumer goods companies have opened manufacturing units in the region. Horticulture is also a major contributor in the economy of Jammu and Kashmir with a yearly turnover of around Rs. 300 Crores.
Before insurgency intensified in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmiri economy. Jammu and Kashmir has reaped the benefits of the recent surge in India`s economy. In 2006, the state`s GDP rose to 12 billion USD in current prices. The New Kashmir that the local people had adopted as their programme, as early as 1944, has been the target of economic development of the state ever since 1947.
Tourism in Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir used to be a paradise for Indian tourists. But after the emergence of terrorists in the region, tourism has taken a blow. But recently tourism is gradually improving as Indians from various states are heading for the most popular tourist destination in India once again. Some of the most popular tourist locations in the state are- Kashmir valley, Jammu valley, Patnitop, Leh, Kargil
, Dal Lake
, Shalimar Garden
, Nubra Valley, Sruinsar Lake, Chashma Shahi Garden
, Mansar Lake, Amar Mahal, Katra
, Mantalai, Sanasar, Batote and many other gorgeous places.
Kashmir`s two major natural advantages are its mountains on the one hand, and lakes and rivers on the other. These waterways enhance the beauty of the land and are one of the chief sources that attract tourists to its verdant valleys. But more than just a means of pleasure, the water-ways and mountains are an activity oriented way of discovering new leisure sports that are appealing more visitors to the region.