Societies grow and develop to their true potential if they have the access and freedom to manage and exploit resources that belong to them. In the case of J&K however that is not the case. One entity that exemplifies the problem is the Indian state-owned hydropower giant, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation or NHPC. The figures that have come out reveal how skewed the relationship between the people of the disputed state and their natural resources has been made to be. Over the last 14 years the NHPC has made profits of Rs 19,431 cr, while the state government has bought back electricity from it paying Rs 4,179 cr. It is important to remember that the NHPC that has been likened, even by some officials, to the British East Indian Company, generates almost all of its energy from J&K, leaving the severely energy-deficient territory reeling under perpetual shortage. Consequently, Kashmir, the source of this energy has had to suffer stunted economic growth.
Experts have often pointed how the hydro-giant has flouted agreements hindering the return of the power projects it operates in Kashmir to their rightful owners. Crucial files are lost and arguments about the return of hydropower protects have been deliberately and so dizzyingly complexed up that the issue has now become one of a political favour should New Delhi ever decide to shower it on a pro-India political party in return of more wholesome collaboration.
The NHPC issue actually exemplifies the entire relationship between New Delhi and Srinagar. The policy and legal structures thrust on the state, which many eminent constitutional experts have successfully argued is unconstitutional or illegal, extends to all the natural resources of the disputed territory – most significantly, the land. Article 370 may have bestowed the title of the land and other natural resources to the people themselves but it is the policies made by New Delhi that decide what can be done with those resources or how they should be exploited! As it is, policy is rarely a public debate in India and much less so, or even totally absent, in Kashmir. Rarely do we see pro-India politicians or the state administration interested in evolving independent policy, or debate it in the public sphere. Instead, the state legislature has historically copied legislation, with meaningless technical changes here and there, the Indian parliament passes and which is then applied to the state. It is in this way that democracy ends up disempowering the people, courtesy the pro-India political groups who act as the vassals of the Indian state J&K.