A part of the erstwhile Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu, the region is the subject of a territorial conflict among China, India and Pakistan. The western districts of the former princely state known as Azad Kashmir and the northern territories known as Gilgit-Baltistan have been under Pakistani control since 1947. The Aksai Chin region in the east, bordering Tibet, has been under Chinese control since 1962.
Jammu and Kashmir consist of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu is the winter capital. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India with a Muslim-majority population. The Kashmir valley is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, and Jammu's numerous shrines attract tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year. Ladakh, also known as "Little Tibet", is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture.
Maharaja Hari Singh became the ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1925, and he was the reigning monarch at the conclusion of the British rule in the subcontinent in 1947. With the impending independence of India, the British announced that the British Paramountcy over the princely states would end, and the states were free to choose between the new Dominions of India and Pakistan or to remain independent. It was emphasized that independence was only a `theoretical possibility' because, during the long rule of the British in India, the states had come to depend on British Indian government for a variety of their needs including their internal and external security.
Jammu and Kashmir had a Muslim majority (77% Muslim by the previous census in 1941). Following the logic of Partition, many people in Pakistan expected that Kashmir would join Pakistan. However, the predominant political movement in the Valley of Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir National Conference) was secular and was allied with the Indian National Congress since the 1930s. So many in India too had expectations that Kashmir would join India. The Maharaja was faced with indecision.
On 22 October 1947, rebellious citizens from the western districts of the State and Pushtoon tribesmen from the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan invaded the State, backed by Pakistan. The Maharaja initially fought back but appealed for assistance to the India, who agreed on the condition that the ruler accede to India. Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947 in return for military aid and assistance, which was accepted by the Governor General the next day. While the Government of India accepted the accession, it added the proviso that it would be submitted to a "reference to the people" after the state is cleared of the invaders, since "only the people, not the Maharaja, could decide where Kashmiris wanted to live." It was a provisional accession.
Once the Instrument of Accession was signed, Indian soldiers entered Kashmir with orders to evict the raiders. The resulting Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 lasted till the end of 1948. At the beginning of 1948, India took the matter to the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council passed a resolution asking Pakistan to withdraw its forces as well as the Pakistani nationals from the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and India to withdraw the majority of its forces leaving only a sufficient number to maintain law and order, following which a Plebiscite would be held. A ceasefire was agreed on 1 January 1949, supervised by UN observers.
A special United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was set up to negotiate the withdrawal arrangements as per the Security Council resolution. The UNCIP made three visits to the subcontinent between 1948 and 1949, trying to find a solution agreeable to both India and Pakistan. It passed a resolution in August 1948 proposing a three-part process. It was accepted by India but effectively rejected by Pakistan. In the end, no withdrawal was ever carried out, India insisting that Pakistan had to withdraw first, and Pakistan contending that there was no guarantee that India would withdraw afterward. No agreement could be reached between the two countries on the process of demilitarization.
India and Pakistan fought two further wars in 1965 and 1971. Following the latter war, the countries reached the Simla Agreement, agreeing on a Line of Control between their respective regions and committing to a peaceful resolution of the dispute through bilateral negotiations.
The primary argument for the continuing debate over the ownership of Kashmir is that India did not hold the promised plebiscite. In fact, neither side has adhered to the UN resolution of 13 August 1948; while India chose not to hold the plebiscite, Pakistan failed to withdraw its troops from Kashmir as was required under the resolution.
India gives the following reasons for not holding the plebiscite:United Nations Security Council Resolution 47 on Kashmir was passed by UNSC under chapter VI of UN Charter, which are non binding and have no mandatory enforceability. In March 2001, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan during his visit to India and Pakistan, remarked that Kashmir resolutions are only advisory recommendations and comparing with those on East Timor and Iraq was like comparing apples and oranges, since those resolutions were passed under chapter VII, which make it enforceable by UNSC. In 2003, then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf announced that Pakistan was willing to back off from demand for UN resolutions for Kashmir.
Moreover, India alleges that Pakistan failed to fulfill the pre-conditions by withdrawing its troops from the Kashmir region as was required under the same UN resolution of 13 August 1948 which discussed the plebiscite.
India has consistently told that UN resolutions are now completely irrelevant and Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue and it has to be resolved under 1972 Simla Agreement and 1999 Lahore Declaration.
The 1948–49 UN resolutions can no longer be applied, according to India, because of changes in the original territory, with some parts "having been handed over to China by Pakistan and demographic changes having been effected in Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas."
Another reason for the abandonment of the referendum is because demographic changes after 1947 have been effected in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, as generations of Pakistani individuals non-native to the region have been allowed to take residence in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Furthermore, India alleges that in Jammu & Kashmir state of India, the demographics of the Kashmir Valley have been altered after separatist militants coerced 250,000 Kashmiri Hindus to leave the region.
India cites the 1951 elected Constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, which voted in favour of confirming accession to India. Also, the 2014 assembly elections saw the highest voter turnout in the state in the last 25 years, prompting Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to claim that it reflects the faith of the Kashmiri people in the democratic system of India and that they have given a "strong message to the world".
In response Pakistan holds that:A statement from the British Cabinet Mission in India in 1946 confirmed that Jammu and Kashmir, a princely state at the time of partition, was a sovereign territory, and Article 7 of the Indian Independence Act of 1947 dealing with lapse of suzerainty of the British Crown over the Indian states reaffirmed this fact, so the Kashmiri people had a vested right of self-determination from the time of independence.
The Kashmiri's right of self-determination was further secured by the progressive development of customary international law in relation to this collective freedom. General Assembly Resolution 1514 (1960) firmly recognized the right of colonial people to self-determination; and General Assembly Resolution 2625 (1970) subsequently affirmed the right of internal self-determination, which the population of Kashmir has consistently been deprived of
The popular Kashmiri insurgency which erupted on 1989 demonstrates that the Kashmiri people no longer wish to remain within India. Pakistan suggests that this means that Kashmir either wants to be with Pakistan or independent.
According to the two-nation theory, which is one of the theories that is cited for the partition that created India and Pakistan, Kashmir should have been with Pakistan, because it has a Muslim majority.
India has shown disregard to the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the United Nations Commission in India and Pakistan by failing to hold a plebiscite to determine the future allegiance of the state.
In 2007 there have been reports of extrajudicial killings in Indian-administered Kashmir by Indian security forces while claiming they were caught up in encounters with militants. The encounters go largely uninvestigated by the authorities, and the perpetrators are spared criminal prosecution. Human rights organisations have strongly condemned Indian troops for widespread abuses and murder of civilians while accusing these civilians of being militants.
Diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan soured for many other reasons and eventually resulted in three further wars in Kashmir the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 and the Kargil War in 1999. India has control of 60% of the area of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir (Jammu, Kashmir Valley, Ladakh and Siachen Glacier); Pakistan controls 30% of the region (Gilgit–Baltistan and Azad Kashmir). China administers 10% (Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract) of the state since 1962.
The Chenab formula was a compromise proposed in the 1960s, in which the Kashmir valley and other Muslim-dominated areas north of the Chenab river would go to Pakistan, and Jammu and other Hindu-dominated regions would go to India.
The eastern region of the erstwhile princely state of Kashmir has also been beset with a boundary dispute. In the late 19th- and early 20th centuries, although some boundary agreements were signed between Great Britain, Tibet, Afghanistan and Russia over the northern borders of Kashmir, China never accepted these agreements, and the official Chinese position did not change with the communist revolution in 1949. By the mid-1950s the Chinese army had entered the northeast portion of Ladakh.
By 1956–57 they had completed a military road through the Aksai Chin area to provide better communication between Xinjiang and western Tibet. India's belated discovery of this road led to border clashes between the two countries that culminated in the Sino-Indian war of October 1962. China has occupied Aksai Chin since 1962 and, in addition, an adjoining region, the Trans-Karakoram Tract was ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963.
For intermittent periods between 1957, when the state approved its own Constitution, and the death of Sheikh Abdullah in 1982, the state had alternating spells of stability and discontent. In the late 1980s, however, simmering discontent over the high-handed policies of the Union Government and allegations of the rigging of the 1987 assembly elections triggered a violent uprising which was backed by Pakistan.
Since then, the region has seen a prolonged, bloody conflict between separatists and the Indian Army, both of whom have been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including abductions, massacres, rapes and armed robbery. The army has officially denied these allegations. However, violence in the state has been on the decline since 2004 with the peace process between India and Pakistan.
Jammu and Kashmir is home to several valleys such as the Kashmir Valley, Tawi Valley, Chenab Valley, Poonch Valley, Sind Valley and Lidder Valley. The main Kashmir Valley is 100 km (62 mi) wide and 15,520.3 km2 (5,992.4 sq mi) in area. The Himalayas divide the Kashmir valley from Ladakh while the Pir Panjal range, which encloses the valley from the west and the south, separates it from the Great Plains of northern India. Along the northeastern flank of the Valley runs the main range of the Himalayas. This densely settled and beautiful valley has an average height of 1,850 metres (6,070 ft) above sea-level but the surrounding Pir Panjal range has an average elevation of 5,000 metres (16,000 ft).
Because of Jammu and Kashmir's wide range of elevations, its biogeography is diverse. Northwestern thorn scrub forests and Himalayan subtropical pine forests are found in the low elevations of the far southwest. These give way to a broad band of western Himalayan broadleaf forests running from northwest-southeast across the Kashmir Valley. Rising into the mountains, the broadleaf forests grade into western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests. Above the tree line are found northwestern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows. Much of the northeast of the state is covered by the Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe. Around the highest elevations, there is no vegetation, simply rock and ice.
The Jhelum River is the only major Himalayan river which flows through the Kashmir valley. The Indus, Tawi, Ravi and Chenab are the major rivers flowing through the state. Jammu and Kashmir is home to several Himalayan glaciers. With an average altitude of 5,753 metres (18,875 ft) above sea-level, the Siachen Glacier is 76 km (47 mi) long making it the longest Himalayan 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 is sufficiently far west to average 40 to 50 mm (1.6 to 2 inches) of rain per month between January and March. In the hot season, Jammu city is very hot and can reach up to 40 °C (104 °F) whilst in July and August, very heavy though erratic rainfall occurs with monthly extremes of up to 650 millimeters (25.5 inches). In September, rainfall declines, and by October conditions are hot but extremely dry, with minimal rainfall and temperatures of around 29 °C (84 °F).
Across from the Pir Panjal range, the South Asian monsoon is no longer a factor and most precipitation falls in the spring from southwest cloudbands. Because of its closeness to the Arabian Sea, Srinagar receives as much as 635 millimetres (25 in) of rain from this source, with the wettest months being March to May with around 85 millimetres (3.3 inches) per month. Across from the main Himalaya Range, even the southwest cloudbands break up and the climate of Ladakh and Zanskar is extremely dry and cold. Annual precipitation is only around 100 mm (4 inches) per year and humidity is very low. In this region, almost all above 3,000 metres (9,750 ft) above sea level, winters are extremely cold. In Zanskar, the average January temperature is −20 °C (−4 °F) with extremes as low as −40 °C (−40 °F). All the rivers freeze over and locals make river crossings during this period because their high levels from glacier melt in summer inhibits crossing. In summer in Ladakh and Zanskar, days are typically a warm 20 °C (68 °F), but with the low humidity and thin air nights can still be cold.
Jammu and Kashmir consists of three divisions: Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, and is further divided into 22 districts. The Siachen Glacier, although under Indian military control, does not lie under the administration of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Kishtwar, Ramban, Reasi, Samba, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Kulgam and Shopian are newly formed districts, and their areas are included with those of the districts from which they were formed.
Municipal corporations: 2 – Srinagar, Jammu
Municipal councils: 6 – Udhampur, Kathua, Poonch, Anantnag, Baramulla, Sopore
Municipal boards: 21 – Samba, Ranbirsinghpora, Akhnoor, Reasi, Ramban, Doda, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Kargil, Dooru-Verinag, Bijbehara, Pulwama, Tral, Badgam, Kulgam, Shopian, Ganderbal, Pattan, Sumbal, Kupwara, Handwara
Population of ten major cities:
The major ethnic groups living in Jammu and Kashmir include Kashmiris, Gujjars/Bakarwals, Paharis, Dogras and Ladakhis. The Kashmiris live mostly in the main valley of Kashmir and Chenab valley of Jammu division with a minority living in the Pir Panjal region. The Pahari-speaking people mostly live in and around the Pir Panjal region with some in the northern Kashmir valley. The nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwals practice transhumance and mostly live in the Pirpanjal region. The Dogras are ethnical, linguistically and culturally related to the neighboring Punjabi people and mostly live in the Udhampur and Jammu districts of the state. The Ladakhis are people of Mongoloid stock and resemble in their ethnic character to the neighbouring Tibetan people.
Jammu and Kashmir is one of India's two administrative divisions (the other being the Union territory of Lakshadweep which is overwhelmingly Muslim) with a Muslim majority population. According to the 2011 census, Islam is practised by about 68.3% of the state population, while 28.4% follow Hinduism and small minorities follow Sikhism (1.9%), Buddhism (0.9%) and Christianity (0.3%). About 96.4% of the population of the Kashmir valley are Muslim followed by Hindus (2.45%) and Sikhs (0.98%) and others (0.17%) Shias live in the district of Badgam, where they are a majority. The Shia population is estimated to comprise 14% of the state's population.
In Jammu, Hindus constitute 62.55% of the population, Muslims 33.45% and Sikhs, 3.3%; In Ladakh (comprises Buddhists-dominated Leh and Shia Muslim-dominated Kargil), Muslims constitute about 46.4% of the population, the remaining being Buddhists (39.7%) and Hindus (12.1%). 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 and Punjab, as well as the city of Delhi.
Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and a few Christian, Jain, and Zoroastrian communities were once natives and made up a vast majority of the whole Kashmir province, as well as neighbouring states, and ancient and modern northern half of what is today India and Pakistan, but because of economic changes, political tension, military involvement, and foreign extremists resulted in vast majority of the followers of these religions to settle in the growing and advancing neighbouring regions and major cities in India over the years, often during no present borders or records. Hindu pandits were specifically affected in this region due to their status in the local society.
According to political scientist Alexander Evans, approximately 99% of the total population of 160,000–170,000 of Kashmiri Brahmins, also called Kashmiri Pandits, (i.e. approximately 150,000 to 160,000) left the Kashmir Valley in 1990 as militancy engulfed the state. According to an estimate by the Central Intelligence Agency, about 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits from the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir have been internally displaced due to the ongoing violence.
The pre-independence Census of 1941 recorded Muslims as constituting 72.41% of the population, and Hindus 25.01%. In the 1961 census, the first one to be conducted after the partition of the State, Muslims constituted 68.31% of the population and Hindus 28.45%. The proportion of Muslims fell to 64.19% by 1981 but recovered afterward, reaching 68.31% again by 2011.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the principal spoken languages are Kashmiri, Urdu, Dogri, Hindi, Punjabi, Pahari, Balti, Ladakhi, Gojri, Shina and Pashto. However, Urdu written in the Persian script is the official language of the state. Hindustani is widely understood by peoples. Many speakers of these languages use Urdu or English as a second language.
Urdu occupies a central space in media, education, religious and political discourses, and the legislature of Jammu and Kashmir. The language is said to function as a symbol of identity among Muslims of South Asia. Additionally, as the language is regarded as a "neutral" and non-native language of the multilingual region, its acceptance was broadly accepted by Kashmiri Muslims. The use of Urdu as the official language of Jammu and Kashmir has also been criticised by Rajeshwari V. Pandharipande of the University of Illinois on the basis that the language is spoken as a native language by less than 1% of the population, and has rendered Kashmiri, spoken by 53% of the population, into a functional "minority language," effectively restricting its use to home and family.
The Kashmir Valley is dominated by ethnic Kashmiris, who have largely driven the campaign for secession from India. Non-Kashmiri Muslim ethnic groups (Paharis, Gujjars and Bakarwalas), who dominate areas along the Line of Control, have remained indifferent to the separatist campaign. Jammu province region has a 70:30 Hindu-Muslim ratio. Parts of the region were hit by militants, but violence has ebbed there, along with the Valley, after India and Pakistan started a peace process in 2004.
Dogras (67%) are the single largest group in the multi-ethnic region of Jammu living with Punjabis, Kashmiris, Paharis, Bakerwals and Gujjars. Statehood is demanded in Hindu-dominated districts. Ladakh is the largest region in the state with over 200,000 people. Its two districts are Leh (68% Buddhist) and Kargil (91% Muslim population). Union territory status has been the key demand of Leh Buddhists for many years.
Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India which enjoys special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India, according to which no law enacted by the Parliament of India, except for those in the field of defence, communication and foreign policy, will be extendable in Jammu and Kashmir unless it is ratified by the state legislature of Jammu and Kashmir. Subsequently, jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India over Jammu and Kashmir has been extended.
Jammu and Kashmir is the only Indian state to have its own official state flag along with national flag and constitution. Indians from other states cannot purchase land or property in the state. Designed by the then ruling National Conference, the flag of Jammu and Kashmir features a plough on a red background symbolising labour; it replaced the Maharaja's state flag. The three stripes represent the three distinct administrative divisions of the state, namely Jammu, Valley of Kashmir, and Ladakh.
In 1990, an Armed Forces Act, which gives special powers to the Indian security forces, has been enforced in Jammu and Kashmir. The decision to invoke this act was criticised by the Human Rights Watch. Amnesty International has strongly condemned the implementation of this Act that grants virtual immunity to security forces from prosecution. Minar Pimple, Senior Director of Global Operations at Amnesty International states.
Till now, not a single member of the security forces deployed in the state has been tried for human rights violations in a civilian court. This lack of accountability has in turn facilitated other serious abuses
Like all the states of India, Jammu and Kashmir has a multi-party democratic system of governance with a bicameral legislature. At the time of drafting the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, 100 seats were earmarked for direct elections from territorial constituencies. Of these, 25 seats were reserved for the areas of Jammu and Kashmir State that came under Pakistani occupation; this was reduced to 24 after the 12th amendment of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir:
"The territory of the State shall comprise all the territories which on the fifteenth day of August 1947, were under the sovereignty or suzerainty of the Ruler of the State" and Section 48 therein states that, "Notwithstanding anything contained in section 47, until the area of the State under the occupations of Pakistan ceases to so occupied and the people residing in that area elect their representatives (a) twenty-five seats in the Legislative Assembly shall remain vacant and shall not be taken into account for reckoning the total member-ship of the Assembly; and the said area shall be excluded in delimiting the territorial Constituencies Under Section 47".
After a delimitation in 1988, the total number of seats increased to 111, of which 87 were within Indian-administered territory. The Jammu & Kashmir Assembly is the only state in India to have a 6-year term, in contrast to the norm of a 5-year term followed in every other state's Assembly. There was indication from the previous INC Government to bring parity with the other states, but this does not seem to have received the required support to pass into law.
Influential political parties include the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (NC), the Indian National Congress (INC), the Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party (PDP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other smaller regional parties. After dominating Kashmir's politics for years, the National Conference's influence waned in 2002, when INC and PDP formed a political alliance and rose to power. Under the power-sharing agreement, INC leader Ghulam Nabi Azad replaced PDP's Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir in late 2005. However, in 2008, PDP withdrew its support from the government on the issue of temporary diversion of nearly 40 acres (16 ha) of land to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board. In the 2008 Kashmir Elections that were held from 17 November to 24 December, the National Conference party and the Congress party together won enough seats in the state assembly to form a ruling alliance. In the 2014 election, the voter turnout was recorded at 65% – the highest in the history of the state. The results gave a fractured mandate to either parties — the PDP won 28 seats, BJP 25, NC 15 and INC 12. After 2 months of deliberations and president's rule, the BJP and the PDP announced an agreement for a coalition government, and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was sworn-in as CM for a second term, with Nirmal Singh of the BJP sworn-in as deputy CM. This also marked the first time in 35 years that the BJP was a coalition partner in the state government.
The state has two autonomous councils in Ladakh, these are the LAHDC Leh and LAHDC Kargil.
In 1989, a widespread popular and armed insurgency started in Kashmir. After the 1987 state legislative assembly election, some of the results were disputed. This resulted in the formation of militant wings and marked the beginning of the Mujahadeen insurgency, which continues to this day. India contends that the insurgency was largely started by Afghan mujahadeen who entered the Kashmir valley following the end of the Soviet-Afghan War. Yasin Malik, a leader of one faction of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, was one of the Kashmiris to organise militancy in Kashmir, along with Ashfaq Majid Wani and Farooq Ahmed Dar (alias Bitta Karate). Since 1995, Malik has renounced the use of violence and calls for strictly peaceful methods to resolve the dispute. Malik developed differences with one of the senior leaders, Farooq Siddiqui (alias Farooq Papa), for shunning demands for an independent Kashmir and trying to cut a deal with the Indian Prime Minister. This resulted in a split in which Bitta Karate, Salim Nanhaji, and other senior comrades joined Farooq Papa. Pakistan claims these insurgents are Jammu and Kashmir citizens and are rising up against the Indian army as part of an independence movement. Amnesty International has accused security forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir of exploiting an Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act that enables them to "hold prisoners without trial". The group argues that the law, which allows security forces to detain individuals for up to two years without presenting charges violates prisoners' human rights. In 2011, the state humans right commission said it had evidence that 2,156 bodies had been buried in 40 graves over the last 20 years. The authorities deny such accusations. The security forces say the unidentified dead are militants who may have originally come from outside India. They also say that many of the missing people have crossed into Pakistan-administered Kashmir to engage in militancy. However, according to the state human rights commission, among the identified bodies 574 were those of "disappeared locals", and according to Amnesty International's annual human rights report (2012) it was sufficient for "belying the security forces' claim that they were militants".
Separatist violence in the region has been observed to decline. However, following the unrest in 2008, which included more than 500,000 protesters at a rally on 18 August, secessionist movements gained a boost. Further the 2016–17 Kashmir Unrest culminated in the deaths of more than 90 civilians, with over 15,000 civilians injured.
The 2009 edition of the Freedom in the World (report) by the US-based NGO Freedom House rated Jammu and Kashmir as "Partly Free", while in comparison, the same report rated Pakistan-administered Kashmir as "Not Free."
Six policemen, including a sub-inspector were killed in an ambush by militants in Anantnag, Jammu and Kashmir on June 15, 2017, by trespassing militants of the Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Toiba. 116 illegal trespassing cases along the India-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir were reported in 2015 and 2016, including 88 in 2016. A total of 59 Army personnel have lost their lives in counter-terror operations in J&K since 2016.
Jammu and Kashmir's economy is predominantly dependent on agriculture and allied activities. The Kashmir Valley is known for its sericulture and cold-water fisheries. Wood from Kashmir is used to make high-quality cricket bats, popularly known as Kashmir Willow. Kashmiri saffron is very famous and brings the state a handsome amount of foreign exchange. Agricultural exports from Jammu and Kashmir include apples, barley, cherries, corn, millet, oranges, rice, peaches, pears, saffron, sorghum, vegetables, and wheat, while manufactured exports include handicrafts, rugs, and shawls.
Horticulture plays a vital role in the economic development of the state. With an annual turnover of over ₹3 billion (US$47 million), apart from foreign exchange of over ₹800 million (US$12 million), this sector is the next biggest source of income in the state's economy. The region of Kashmir is known for its horticulture industry and is the wealthiest region in the state. Horticultural produce from the state includes apples, apricots, cherries, pears, plums, almonds and walnuts.
The Doda district has deposits of high-grade sapphire. Though small, the manufacturing and services sector is growing rapidly, especially in the Jammu division. In recent years, several consumer goods companies have opened manufacturing units in the region. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has identified several industrial sectors which can attract investment in the state, and accordingly, it is working with the union and the state government to set up industrial parks and special economic zones. In the fiscal year 2005–06, exports from the state amounted to ₹11.5 billion (US$180 million). However, industrial development in the state faces several major constraints including extreme mountainous landscape and power shortage. The Jammu & Kashmir Bank, which is listed as a S&P CNX 500 conglomerate, is based in the state. It reported a net profit of ₹598 million (US$9.3 million) in 2008.
The Government of India has been keen to economically integrate Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India. The state is one of the largest recipients of grants from New Delhi, totalling US$812 million per year. It has a mere 4% incidence of poverty, one of the lowest in the country.
In an attempt to improve the infrastructure in the state, Indian Railways is constructing the ambitious Jammu–Baramulla line project at a cost of more than US$2.5 billion. Trains run on the 130 km Baramula-Banihal section. The 17.5 km Qazigund-Banihal section through the 11 km long Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel was commissioned. Udhampur-Katra section of the track was commissioned early in July 2014. The Katra-Banihal section is under construction. The route crosses major earthquake zones and is subjected to extreme temperatures of cold and heat, as well as inhospitable terrain, making it an extremely challenging engineering project. It is expected to increase tourism and travel to Kashmir. Three other railway lines, the Bilaspur–Mandi–Leh railway, Srinagar-Kargil-Leh railway and the Jammu-Poonch railway have been proposed.
Before the insurgency intensified in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmiri economy. The tourism economy in the Kashmir valley was worst hit. However, the holy shrines of Jammu and the Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh continue to remain popular pilgrimage and tourism destinations. Every year, thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit holy shrines of Vaishno Devi and Amarnath, which has had significant impact on the state's economy. It was estimated in 2007 that the Vaishno Devi yatra contributed ₹4.75 billion (US$74 million) to the local economy annually a few years ago. The contribution should be significantly greater now as the numbers of Indian visitors have increased considerably. Foreign tourists have been slower to return. The British government still advises against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of the cities of Jammu and Srinagar, travel between these two cities on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, and the region of Ladakh, while Canada excludes the entire region excepting Leh.
Besides Kashmir, several areas in the Jammu region have a lot of tourist potential as well. Bhau Fort in Jammu city is the major attraction for the tourists visiting that city. Bage-e-Bahu is another tourist destination. The local aquarium, established by the fisheries department, is visited by many. Tourists from across India visit Jammu in a pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi. Mata Vaishno Devi is located in the Trikuta Hills, about 40 to 45 km from Jammu City. Approximately 10 million Pilgrims visit this holy place every year.
Tourism in the Kashmir valley has rebounded in recent years, and in 2009, the state became one of the top tourist destinations of India. Gulmarg, one of the most popular ski resort destinations in India, is also home to the world's highest green golf course. The state's recent decrease in violence has boosted the economy and tourism. It was reported that more than a million tourists visited Kashmir in 2011.
Ladakh is famous for its unique Indo-Tibetan culture. Chanting in Sanskrit and Tibetan language forms an integral part of Ladakh's Buddhist lifestyle. Annual masked dance festivals, weaving and archery are an important part of traditional life in Ladakh. Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being thukpa, noodle soup; and tsampa, known in Ladakhi as Ngampe, roasted barley flour. Typical garb includes gonchas of velvet, elaborately embroidered waistcoats and boots, and gonads or hats. People adorned with gold and silver ornaments and turquoise headgears throng the streets during Ladakhi festivals.
The Dumhal is a famous dance in the Kashmir Valley, performed by men of the Wattal region. The women perform the Rouff, another traditional folk dance. Kashmir has been noted for its fine arts for centuries, including poetry and handicrafts. Shikaras, traditional small wooden boats, and houseboats are a common feature in lakes and rivers across the Valley.
The Constitution of India does not allow people from regions other than Jammu and Kashmir to purchase land in the state. As a consequence, houseboats became popular among those who were unable to purchase land in the Valley and has now become an integral part of the Kashmiri lifestyle.
Kawa, traditional green tea with spices and almond, is consumed all through the day in the chilly winter climate of Kashmir. Most of the buildings in the Valley and Ladakh are made from softwood and are influenced by Indian, Tibetan, and Islamic architecture.
Jammu's Dogra culture and tradition is very similar to that of neighboring Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Traditional Punjabi festivals such as Lohri and Vaisakhi are celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm throughout the region, along with Accession Day, an annual holiday which commemorates the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to the Dominion of India. After Dogras, Gujjars form the second-largest ethnic group in Jammu. Known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle, Gujjars are also found in large numbers in the Kashmir Valley. Similar to Gujjars, Gaddis are primarily herdsmen who hail from the Chamba region in Himachal Pradesh. Gaddis is generally associated with emotive music played on the flute. The Bakkarwalas found both in Jammu and the Kashmir valley is wholly nomadic pastoral people who move along the Himalayan slopes in search of pastures for their huge flocks of goats and sheep.
In 1970, the state government of Jammu and Kashmir established its own education board and university. Education in the state is divided into primary, middle, high secondary, college and university level. Jammu and Kashmir follows the 10+2 pattern for education of children. This is handled by Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education (abbreviated as JKBOSE). Private and public schools are recognized by the board to impart education to students. Board examinations are conducted for students in class VIII, X and XII. In addition, there are Kendriya Vidyalayas (run by the Government of India) and Indian Army schools that impart secondary school education. These schools follow the Central Board of Secondary Education pattern.
Notable higher education or research institutes in Jammu and Kashmir include the Indian Institute of Technology Jammu, Indian Institute of Management Jammu, National Institute of Technology, Srinagar, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jammu, Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar, Government College of Engineering and Technology, Jammu, Government Medical College, Srinagar, All India Institute of Medical Science Awantipora , Acharya Shri Chandra college of medical sciences, Jammu and Government Medical College, Jammu, University-level education is provided by University of Kashmir, University of Kashmir, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Srinagar, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu, Islamic University of Science & Technology, Baba Ghulam Shah Badhshah University, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Institution of Technicians and Engineers (Kashmir), Islamia College of Science and Commerce, Srinagar, Central University of Kashmir located at Ganderbal and Central University of Jammu located at Raya Suchani in the Samba district of Jammu.
The Kashmir Valley has a large capacity of fruit production. Apples, walnuts, almonds, cherries and pears are imported by many foreign countries.Kashmir rug
Sports like cricket, football are famous along with sports like golf, skiing, water sports and adventure sports. Srinagar is home to the Sher-i-Kashmir Stadium, a stadium where international cricket matches have been played. The first international match was played in 1983 in which West Indies defeated India and the last international match was played in 1986 in which Australia defeated India by six wickets. Since then no international match has taken place in the stadium due to the prevailing security situation.
Maulana Azad Stadium is a stadium in Jammu and is one of the home venues for the Jammu and Kashmir cricket team.The stadium has hosted home games for Jammu and Kashmir in domestic tournaments since 1966. It has also hosted one One Day International in 1988 between India and New Zealand, which was abandoned due to rain without a ball being bowled. The stadium has played host to one women's test match where India lost to West Indies and one Women's One Day International where India beat New Zealand in 1985.
Srinagar has an outdoor stadium namely Bakshi Stadium for hosting football matches. It is named after Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad.
The city has a golf course named Royal Springs Golf Course, Srinagar located on the banks of Dal lake, which is considered as one of the best golf courses of India.
Ladakh Marathon is held at Leh, is the marathon recognised by Association of International Marathons and Distance Races. Being held at height of 11,500 feet, it is known as the highest marathon in the world. In 2015, Ladakh Marathon was rated among "top ten nicest marathon" in the world.