Jammu and Kashmir is a state of a special category in the Indian Republic. It is located mostly in the Himalayan mountainous region.
It has an international border with China in the north and east, while Line of Control (LOC) separates it from Pakistani controlled territories in the west and north-west. And it shares the border with the Indian States of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to the south.
Jammu and Kashmir consist of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir valley, and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital and Jammu is the winter capital of the State. Because of the wide range of elevations of Jammu and Kashmir, its biogeography is of diverse character. Around the highest elevations in the north, there is no vegetation-simply rock and ice. But in the low elevations of the far south-west, there are thorn scrub forests and Himalayan subtropical pine forests. The Jhelum River is the only major Himalayan river which flows through the Kashmir valley. Besides, there are several Himalayan glaciers including the longest—Himalayan Siachen Glacier.
The climate of Jammu and Kashmir varies greatly owing to its rugged topography. In the south, around Jammu, the climate is typically monsoonal, though the region in the north is dry and cold.
Kashmir has a historical background. Hari Singh had ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1925 and was the ruling monarch at the conclusion of the British rule in the subcontinent in 1947. One of the conditions of the Partition imposed by Britain was that the rulers of princely states would have the right to opt for either Pakistan or India or remain independent. On 26 October 1947 Maharaja Hari Singh signed the agreement of accession, and it was accepted on 27 October by the Governor-General of India. However, a part of the erstwhile Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu is disputed among China, India and Pakistan.
As per the 2011 census, Jammu and Kashmir in India have a total population of 12,548,926. In Kashmir, Islam is practised by 97% of the population, and the remaining are Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs. And in Jammu, Hindu As constitute 65% of the population, Muslims 31% and Sikhs 4%. In Ladakh, Buddhists constitute about 46% of the population and the remaining are Muslims and other minority groups. Kashmiri and Urdu are the official languages, and the literacy rate is 66.7% on average.
Administration and Politics
Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India that enjoys special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India, according to which no law enacted by the Parliament of India, except in the field of defence, communication and foreign policy will be applicable in Jammu and Kashmir unless it is ratified by the State legislature of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court has been extended over Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, it is the only Indian state that has its own official flag and constitution, and Indians from other states cannot purchase land or property in the State.
As for administration, Jammu and Kashmir consist of three divisions— Jammu, Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh. The Siachen Glacier, although under Indian military control, does not lie under the administration of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Since 1990, the Armed Forces Act, which gives special powers to the Indian security forces, has been enforced in Jammu and Kashmir, though this Act is criticised by the Human Rights Watch.
However, like all the States of India, Jammu and Kashmir have a democratic system of governance with a bicameral Legislature (of 89 +36 seats).
Kashmir, especially Ladakh, is famous for its Indo-Tibetan culture. The Dumhal is a famous dance in the Kashmir Valley, performed by men, and the Rouff is another traditional folk dance performed by women. Shikaras, the traditional small wooden boats, and house-boats are a common feature in lakes and rivers across the valley.
Jammu and Kashmir’s economy is predominantly dependent on agriculture, horticulture, cottage industry and tourism. Agricultural and horticultural exports include apples, barley, cherries, millet, oranges, peaches, etc. The cottage industry exports include handicrafts, rugs, and shawls.
Tourism plays a vital role in the Kashmiri economy. The State has become one of the top tourist destinations of India for its beautiful mountainous landscape. Gulmarg, one of the most popular ski resort destinations in India, is also home to the world’s highest green golf course. Besides Kashmir, Jammu region too has a lot of tourism potential. There are various places in Jammu which are worth seeing. Bahu Furt in Jammu City is the major attraction for tourists. Bag-e-Bahu is another tourist destination. The holy shrines of Jammu are popular pilgrimage and tourism destinations. Every year, thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit holy shrines of Vaishno Devi and Amarnath. Ladakh, also known as ‘Little Tibet’, is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture. Thus tourism has a significant impact on the State’s economy.