October 2017 News

JK Too Dependent On GoI: VC NITI Aayog

28 October 2017
Rising Kashmir
Faisul Yaseen

Srinagar: NITI Aayog Vice Chairman, Rajiv Kumar Saturday said Jammu Kashmir was too dependent on Government of India (GoI) and called upon the State to make its private sector strong. 'J&K is too dependent on GoI and needs to get on its feet by developing a strong private sector business,' Kumar said delivering the inaugural address of the Jammu and Kashmir Conclave: Prospects for Economy and Role of Youth organised by a New Delhi-based socio-economic consulting company, BRIEF. He was referring to the earlier comments of Minister for Public Works, Naeem Akhtar, who, in his address raised the issue of New Delhi's continuous neglect toward Kashmir for the past seven decades. 'For the 70 years, we have not got an all-weather road and a distance of three hours from Kashmir to Kishtwar takes three days,' he said. Kumar said as the country's premier think tank, NITI Aayog was setting up benchmarks for all states and promoting both cooperative and comparative federalism. NITI Aayog, or the National Institution for Transforming India, a policy think tank, replaced the Planning Commission that was dismantled after Narendra Modi government took power at New Delhi in 2014. Terming Jammu Kashmir, the crown of India, he said the State had the youngest population of all states with 73 percent of the population below the age of 35 years and 60 percent below the age of 30 years. He said 93 percent of the population in the age group of 15 to 23 was literate, majority of who had completed secondary population. 'So the people of Jammu Kashmir are special and special people require special attention,' the NITI Aayog vice chairman said. However, he said thee worrying thing was that 41 percent of the people in the age group of 24 and 51 were unemployed, which was perplexing on seeing that a large number of migrant workers were coming to Kashmir for jobs. Referring to the failure of schools in providing skilled training, Kumar said the third President of India, Zakir Hussain had started 'Nai Talim' concept in India where localised education and skills were drawn up in the syllabus for education by the Zakir Hussain committee. 'The idea did not take off because the elite in India thought it was only for the poor,' he said. 'Now it is time in J&K to restart Nai Taleem so that students do not come out aspiring to be clerks.' The NITI Aayog vice chairman said Kashmir had incomparable handicrafts and skills and all it needed to do was develop human resources and infrastructure like roads, power, water and housing, have security and transparency and give good governance to the people. Earlier, in his address, Public Works Minister, Naeem Akhtar said why the educational institutions of the State were producing unemployed PhDs, doctors and engineers was an oxymoron. 'People of the State themselves have reconciled to any job but unfortunately, they show their children dreams of a white collar job,' he said. Akhtar said Kashmir owes its identity in the world to Cashmere (Pashmina) and praised Kashmiris for their marketing and trading skills. Chief Executive Office, BRIEF Mohammed Saqib presented the welcome address. In the first session, 'Tourism and Handicrafts', Chairman of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI), Kashmir chapter and Mushtaq Group of Hotels, and a prominent face of Kashmir's hospitality sector, Mushtaq Chaya spoke on the issues the hospitality sector of the State was facing. Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President, Javed Ahmad Tenga said he did not see youth joining Kashmir's tourism industry considering that it was become hard for those involved in the industry to hold on to their jobs due to low tourist footfall. Hotelier Aquib Chaya said the tourism stakeholders had been reduced to mere existence. 'Tourism does not get peace, peace gets tourism,' he said referring to the importance of having a political process that would lead to peace. Environmentalist Saquib Qadri said Kashmir continued to have virgin resorts but it was difficult for tourists to visit those places due to the failure of the governments in providing a proper network of roads and other infrastructure at these places. Founder of Kashmir Art Quest Syed Mujtaba Rizvi said the importance of the Hurriyat cannot be ignored. He said until New Delhi engages with them, things on the ground would not change as it was their writ that ran large in the State. Former KCCI President, Mubeen Shah said he took up the issue of Kashmir settlement with all visiting politicians from New Delhi and made it clear to them how it was hampering tourism but to no avail. Former Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Public Service Commission Muhammad Shafi Pandit said there would be no progress in Kashmir without peace. 'We can survive but not progress without peace,' he said. The first session was moderated by Director, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Kashmir, Parikshit Manhas. In the second session, 'Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises and Skill Development', Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) President, Rakesh Gupta said the youth in the State need professional counseling as the needs of the youth and market demands were different. Director, Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI), Muhammad Ismail Parray majority of the youth who were trained were not able to find jobs. 'Not more than three percent youth we were trained found jobs in the market,' he said. 'This too despite the fact that they had got proper skill sets.' Chief Executive Officer, Kashmir Industries, Farooq Amin Kanwal said the labourers of the State were not actually skilled and when skilled workers are hired in industries, they are found to have the certificate of certain skill sets but not possess those skills in reality. President Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK), Mohammad Ashraf Mir said the economy of Kashmir was on crutches and that there was a need to put in strenuous efforts to revive the economy. Director Skill Development Mission, J&K Government, G N Suhail Masoodi said the problem of the education system was it was churning youth with higher education while the requirement for government job was 10 2 and graduation. He said Kashmir did not have the political capital as it only send three members to the Parliament while economic capital too was not much. 'We only have the human capital but the problem with that is we only have unskilled labour force,' he said. Masoodi also raised an alarm that with the youth bulge without job opportunities was that they would be used in any direction. 'Besides, the highly educated are taking the jobs that are actually meant of the lesser educated,' he said. 'The technical education is the answer but the problem with it is that even the youth with various skill sets are looking for government jobs that do not require the skill sets they possess.' The Director Skill Development Mission said when the nature of jobs was changing, there was also a need to change the skill sets. 'Furthermore, the problem is that policies are framed in New Delhi without taking care of what is happening in Kashmir,' he said. Expressing hope that the Kashmiri youth would be able to do good, he said entrepreneurship in Jammu Kashmir had flourished despite the region being a conflict zone, a phenomenon not common in any other conflict zone. The session was moderated by Secretary General, Federation of Indian Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (FISME), Anil Bhardwaj. In the third session 'Horticulture', Khurram Mir, the founder Harshna Naturals, talked about how Kashmiri entrepreneurs were facing higher risks than entrepreneurs elsewhere in the world. 'Because of the situation in Kashmir, there is more financial risk and banks lend money charging higher interest rates due to these risks,' Mir, who owns the largest apple pack park in South Asia, said. 'However, the entrepreneurs are not able to charge more to the buyer because of the competitive market.' He called for less rent on money for the Kashmiri entrepreneurs and mitigating the risk by spreading it. 'For a Kashmiri youth, there is no floor below which they can fall,' Mir said. 'As they are staring at a black hole, they don't want to dive into it and what they look for an alternative to that black hole is a government job.' He called for having more schemes like Market Intervention Scheme (MIS). Secretary Department of Horticulture, Floriculture and Parks, Manzoor Ahmad Lone said the cold storage plants had been a game changer for the horticulture industry of the State. He said the farmers in the past eight years had been able to store 100,000 metric tonnes of fruit in cold storage units and get better value for their products. Lone said high density plantation would change the attitude of Kashmiri youth toward farming and that the industry would grow from Rs 7500 crore to Rs 50,000 crore in 20 years. The session was moderated by founder Cluster Pulse and Mentor on Road, Jagat Shah.