Operation Sadbhavana

 

“Jawan Aur Awam, Aman Hai Muqaam”
(The soldier and people, peace is the destination)

 

Background


1.  Operation Sadbhavana (Goodwill) is an unique humane initiative undertaken by Indian Army in the State of Jammu & Kashmir to address aspirations of people affected by scrooge of terrorism, sponsored and abetted by Pakistan. The unique operation has provided succor to a large section of population of the State. As part of a grand design an insidious attempt was made by terrorist ‘tanzeems’ to systematically subvert Government officials, target property, public services and symbols of State authority in order to inflict hardship and alienate local population from the national fabric. It was in these challenging operational environment that the Indian Army as part of the overall Counter Terrorism strategy decided to use its footprint to wrest the initiative back from the terrorists, re-integrate the ‘Awaam’ (Locals) with the national mainstream and blunt the proxy war abetted by Pakistan.

 

2.  In a situation where the Army was looked upon as the last bastion which could provide relief to the masses affected by terrorism, Indian army swiftly launched ‘Operation Sadbhavana’ with a modest budget of Rupees four crores in 1998. The timely intervention was carried out with an aim of supplementing efforts of the State administration in restoring public services, rebuilding infrastructure and creating a conducive environment for development in the State. In the intervening years since 1998 the Army has spent in excess of Rupees 550 crores on various people centric development activities in the State.

 

Focus Areas

 

3.  The focus of Operation Sadbhavana is to improve the overall core social indices of Education, Women & Youth Empowerment, and Health care with simultaneous thrust on capacity building through implemention of community/infrastructure development projects. The underlying theme is to blunt Pakistan sponsored anti India propaganda and facilitate all around development of the State based on a participative model involving the local people, Army and the civil administration. Accordingly, the core of Operation Sadhbhavana theme gyrates around aspirations of local populace and India’s national interest.

 

Education

 

4.  Ever since the inception of Operation Sadbhavana Indian Army has established 46 Army Goodwill Schools and rendered assistance to approximately 1900 State Government run schools by carrying out renovation, modifications, infrastructure augmentation and provisioning of equipment. All Goodwill schools are affiliated to J&K State educational Board barring two residential schools, located at Rajouri and Pahalgam which are affiliated to CBSE Board. The popularity of Army Goodwill Schools can be measured by the fact that there is a growing clamor from local population for opening schools in almost all corners of the State. Approximately 14,000 students are currently enrolled and close to one lakh children have obtained primary/higher secondary levels quality education in last one and half decades of insurgency.

 

Figure 1 Army Goodwill Schools - Centre's of Excellence in J&K

 

5.  With an aim to provide equal opportunity to children from marginalized section of the society and those affected by terrorist violence Army has been sponsoring the cost of their education. Approximately 840 students are receiving scholarships for studies in schools within and outside the State. Army has assisted nearly 565 students to obtain admission in various institutions outside the State prominent among them being Pacific University, Udaipur, Global Research Institute, Kurakshetra, NOIDA International University, Greater NOIDA and Hunar-e-Tarash, a Rural Affair Ministry initiative. The state of J&K has a unique mix of population which also comprises Gujjar/Bakarwals (nomadic tribes) in sizeable numbers. These nomadic groups migrate every year within the State in summer’s months to upper reaches and to the lower foothills in the winters. While doing so they traverse all three distinct regions of the State. In order to ensure that their children get quality basic and middle school education, Indian Army is running special “Shepherds Schools”, a one of its kind initiative at various receiving areas which are frequented regularly by the nomadic groups.

 

Infrastructure Development

 

6.  Extensive damage to the State infrastructure was inflicted by terrorists and anti national elements in early 1990’s. Fear of terror inhibited government agencies to function freely and restore damaged infrastructure or undertake new projects, thereby, leaving a gapping void in the Sate’s infrastructure. Indian Army stepped in to bridge the void by providing assistance and undertaking number of small/large infrastructure projects under Op Sadbhavana and ameliorate conditions of the local population. Augmenting of water supply schemes, provision of road/track connectivity, construction of small bridges and electrifications projects are being undertaken to improve quality of life. The projects being undertaken are carefully planned and executed in conjunction with the State Government so that the local administrative machinery and elected representatives who are the real stakeholders in the development of the State are fully integrated from the inception stage. The underlying theme being that the projects should supplement and not supplant the efforts of civil administration.

 

Figure 2 Bill (Electrification), Pani (Water) and Sadak (Roads)

 

Health and Sanitation

 

7.  To cater for the medical needs of population living in remote and inaccessible areas, a number of medical aid/health centers have been constructed. These centers have been providing essential medical aid to local population and are equipped with modern equipment. Villagers are regularly being educated on family planning, child care, basic hygiene, sanitation and precautions against local ailments at these Centers. In FY 2014-15 approximately 1,27,019 people were provided free medical treatment in 283 medical camps organised in various parts of the State. Mobile medical teams have been regularly dispensing medical care and medicines at the doorstep of needy population through the medium of health camps. Motivated youth are identified during conduct of such camps in rural areas for further training in para-medical care and first aid by the Army Field Hospitals. Veterinary Camps are also being organized regularly in conjunction with representatives of Government Veterinary Department to provide veterinary care. A total of 149 such camps were organized where 1,66,728 animals were treated.

 

Figure 3 Health Care for All

 

Women and Youth Empowerment

 

8. Special emphasis is being laid to empower women by organising skill development training like operating of computers, knitting, tailoring, candle making, bag making, carpets / basket weaving, horticulture and fashion designing at various Vocational Training Centers (VTC) for them. Regular interactions with bank and government officials are being organised to initiate them into banking and financial management. Besides women, un-employed youth of the Sate are also being provided with opportunities for becoming self-employed. Numerous Youth Guidance Employment Nodes (YGENs) have been established across the State to create awareness about job opportunities, competitive exams and eligibility criteria for seeking employment in Government/civil sector. Competent trainers and counselors train the youth and assist them to develop skills for seeking jobs and availing employment opportunities on their own merit. Skill training as mechanics, machine operators, poultry farming, animal husbandry, compounders and tourist guides conducted at various Vocational Training Centers is assisting the youth to seek self employment.

 

Figure 4 Vocational Training and Skill Development

 

National Integration Tours

 

9.  National Integration Tours (Educational and Motivational Initiative) are being organized with an aim to integrate students and opinion makers from all regions of the State to national mainstream as also to provide them with an opportunity to experience the rich cultural diversity and varied traditions of other parts of the country. These tours enable the participants to experience development and growth in other regions and act as catalysts for channelizing their energies to achieve higher goals in life. It also provides them an opportunity to appreciate and evaluate various employment options that exist for them outside the Sate. On an average 70-100 such tours comprising 25-30 participants are being sent each year to various cities in the country.

 

Figure 5 National Integration Tour - Source of Education and Motivation

 

Conclusion

 

10.  Operation Sadbhavana is perhaps, the only ‘Winning of Hearts and Minds” initiative in the world wherein, an Army embroiled in conduct of intense Counter Terrorism operations is also actively assisting civil administration to bring back normalcy. The unique initiative stands as a dazzling example of commitment and dedication of the uniformed community towards the people of Jammu & Kashmir and has successfully blunted Pakistan sponsored anti India propaganda. It has complimented efforts of the State to ameliorate conditions in order to provide much needed succor to the population severely affected by decades long “Proxy War”. Initiatives likes these are reassuring not only because of the positive numbers and results, but also because in these initiatives exists a possibility of socially uplifting a section of the society which not only suffers socio-economically but also lives under a constant threat of geopolitical instability.

 

 “Our Motto … A Smile on Every Face”
“Army belongs to the people and its commitment will last as long as the involvement of the people lasts…..”