NRKs To Set Up British-Kashmir Business Council
14 November 2003
The Daily Excelsior
London: Newly set up Jammu and Kashmir Economic Renewal Initiative Group comprising some well meaning Non-Resident Kashmiris (NRKs) in UK has decided to set up a joint British-Kashmir Business Council for economic revival of Kashmir. This was decided at the end of 2-hour long meeting of the Group with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed here last evening. The Group has been the brainchild of a member of the Commonwealth organisation and leading NRI Dr. Mohan Koul. The Group has offered private initiative to help the people of Kashmir at this hour of need and sought Government's role of a facilitator. They are in touch with Vice Chancellors of both the universities besides technocrats. Tourism Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir and PDP chief Ms Mehbooba Mufti were also present. After detailed discussions, sectors like education, hydroelectric projects, information technology and health were identified for private initiative. Interaction with NRKs for exploring possibilities of investment back home was an important engagement of the Chief Minister during his tour to London. Appreciating their urge to do something for the people of their motherland, the Chief Minister asked them to invest in establishing a good public school to provide quality education to the students. Quoting similar effort of DPS, he said they have agreed to set up a chain of their schools in Jammu and Kashmir with reservation of 20 per cent free seats for poor students. He said development of human resource is the most vital aspect of overall economic development and needs to be attended to. Mufti Sayeed also sought private initiative in launching mobile medical vans with specialized diagnostic and curative facilities for gynecological patients. Such specialized and well-equipped vans need to be launched in far-flung areas that have deficiency in gynecological facilities in primary health centres and sub-district hospitals. Information technology and power are other sectors on which this Group can give focus for investment. He said the Government has notified a dozen micro and small hydel power projects for private investment. Cable car projects for different areas of Kashmir and Jammu could also be considered for private investment, he said. Inviting the leading members of the Group to Jammu and Kashmir next month to finalize projects, the Chief Minister said that his Government would prefer small effort to begin with rather than big projects that usually remain on paper. He said thousands of orphans too need their attention as part of private initiative. Mr. Mir too appreciated the initiative and said that the Chief Minister has rightly focussed attention on education. He said that it is due to poor quality of education that all ills like copying etc. have gone into the system. The government is keen to give fillip to economic development and private participation is indeed a welcome step. Ms Mehbooba Mufti, who also participated in the meeting, said that it is a paradox that the Chief Minister is chasing Ambanis and DPS for setting up good schools in Jammu and Kashmir, but our own people who are affluent, never thought of setting up of a good public school. Various suggestions were made at the meeting. They wanted the Government to prepare projects and organize an Investment Mart at Srinagar. All investors should be invited to it. Another suggestion that came up was establishment of hassle-free single window for such investment. They even suggested total reorientation of post-graduate courses at the universities of Kashmir and Jammu to make these more relevant to the market needs of human resource. The meeting was marked by the pronounced common urge of well to do Kashmiris to help their brethren and sisters back home. They came forward only because of change in situation in Kashmir and matured and serious leadership that is keen to change the situation in the State. However, they made it clear that it is only their urge to help their people and has no politics in it. Secretary Tourism Najmus Saqib and other officers of the Tourism Department were also present.