India’s northwestern region of Jammu and Kashmir is home to more than 50,000 unemployed college graduates, 11,000 of which have already completed graduate or postdoctoral work. According to India’s National Conference and Congress, there has been little change since a 2008 report was released detailing the crisis and establishing a blue print for the alleged plan of action that would lower the unemployment rate and create jobs for highly educated citizens living in Jammu and Kashmir. Plans to better develop the region have remained inchoate while Jammu and Kashmir has seen youth unemployment skyrocket to the highest in all of India and overall employment to the highest in northern India.
Kashmiri activists have been quick to lay the blame both on regional policymakers in Jammu and Kashmir and national policymakers in New Delhi of colluding to hinder J&K’s development. Omar Abdullah, the incumbent chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, has championed his own efforts to eradicate unemployment, and has labeled them as “above all other political considerations.” The Sher-i-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Programme for Youth (SWEWPY) is an initiative established with the purpose of supporting entrepreneurship and job growth within Kashmir, though despite the statements of regional government officials, data has not been furnished that could shed light on the program’s effectiveness.
- The new border zone between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine has become heavily militarized in the last several days. Ukrainian military forces dug in, putting up sandbags, stringing out barbed wire, and performing infantry exercises. This weekend, Russian forces completed their expulsion of Ukrainian forces from the Crimean peninsula, seizing Belbek Air Force Base, the last major stronghold of Ukrainina military strength. At least one man was injured during the assault. Other bases werereported taken as well, including one at Novofyodorovka.
- On Friday, the European Union has slapped additional sanctions on senior Russian government officials, but followed a different strategy than the United States, whose sanctions were specifically directed at Vladimir Putin and his inner circle. Instead, the EU has focused its efforts on Russian military and government officials in charge of the invasion of Crimea. This announcement came just after Ukrainian PM Viktor Yatsenyuk signed part of the Association Agreement, which is the economic pact that former president Viktor Yanukovych did not sign and thus set off the firestorm of events that eventually led to his exile and the division of Ukraine and Crimea. The agreement will help stave off the severe economic impact of lack of energy resources from Russia.
- US Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire led a bipartisan delegation to Afghanistan last week to urge President Hamid Karzai to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement, which would allow US troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Ayotte criticized President Obama for not detailing what a post-2014 NATO presence in Afghanistan would entail, citing General Joseph Dunford’s recent address to the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that between 8,000 and 12,000 troops would be ideal for conducting light-footprint, anti-terrorism operations.
- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be visiting Kabul later this week to participate in celebrations of Norouz, the Iranian New Year. His visit will come just one week before elections take place on April 5.