The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has remained without an elected government for over 10 months now. This has created unique challenges for the administration and the people, especially in the middle of a global pandemic. To make it worse, the 4G ban has widened the communication gap between people, media, and the government.
While the city administrations of Jammu and Srinagar have innovated by leveraging the power of social media and a strong grassroots network to connect with the people, the remote districts and villages are still struggling to close the existent communication gap and tackle the lack of awareness. The UT is witnessing rising cases in the north and south Kashmir regions. This can have ripple effects that can cascade to other parts of the UT if containment measures are not enacted.
On the other hand, the economic paralysis that the J&K has seen over the last 10 months has led to impatience within the masses who want to resume their businesses at full thrust.
The administration has amplified their testing routines and widened the scope of public health measures, keeping up pace with the trends in the rest of the country. Strategies like airport screenings, containment zones, quarantine periods, and rigorous testing are tools that the administration is relying upon to flatten the coronavirus curve. Unfortunately and consequently, it has also created economic consequences for the UT that has seen a dramatic halt of economic growth since August 2019.
To ensure public support during the pandemic, the government will have to figure out a way to ensure the smooth functioning of the education and commerce sector. Various ideas have surfaced and are being tested. Only time will tell if those measures succeed in steering the UT out of economic stagnancy. While the visible challenges that J&K faces are well within the radar of policymakers and law enforcers, the hidden challenges like the rise of mental health issues is something that will haunt it for a long time to come.
Of greater concern is the state of the education sector and the ban on 4G is not helping either. It’s a catch 22 situation for the government and a race against time itself.