One of the criticisms leveled against India’s SEZ policy is that the zones are too small to make a real difference. But there’s a very big zone that could be an SEZ, especially if the state’s politicians—who are all for ‘autonomy’—decided economic freedom is something that is well in their capacity to achieve. And set an example for the rest of India.
That’s one of the proposals Sushant Singh puts forward in his article on moving towards an endgame in Jammu & Kashmir:
…unemployment among the youth of the valley remains to be adequately addressed. Handing out of doles and packages to the state government and public sector institutions is not the solution. An alternative would be to incent the private sector, perhaps even outside the state, with an offset to employ a certain percentage of people from Jammu & Kashmir.
The idea of converting the entire state into a virtual special economic zone (SEZ) has been mooted. The state has a special status under the Indian Constitution. So do SEZs. What is required is the repositioning the state to one that leverages its special status to achieve socio-economic development.
It would also require a rebalancing the distribution of fiscal transfers from the central government between the public and private sectors.
This will undermine the separatists’ main economic grouse—step-motherly treatment by the Centre and no attempts at development in the state. [Pragati - The Indian National Interest Review]