March 2018 News

JK Ministers Urge Indian Society To 'change' Outlook About Kashmir

10 March 2018
Rising Kashmir
Abdul Bari Masoud

New Delhi: Urging upon the Indian society to change its outlook about Jammu and Kashmir, a group of Ministers from the state said that Kashmir has an 'enormous potential for investment' in a range of sectors including food processing, horticulture, floriculture, handloom, handicrafts, tourism, IT sector and hydropower. Claiming that the J&K is as 'peaceful' as any the other states of India, they also sought increased 'interaction' with the rest of the country to end its 'isolation.' At a conference on 'Ambassadors' Meet' under the theme 'J&K: The Way Forward' organized by industry chamber PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on Friday evening, in collaboration with its Kashmir chapter, Finance Minister, Haseeb Drabu, said the three things J&K needs 'is progress, harmony, and development as it is a pre-sold destination.' Education minister Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari outlined the education scene in the state and said the major challenge was connectivity as state needs 'physical, economic, emotional and transport connectivity'. He said Kashmir's 'topography and environment provide huge potential for the small and medium scale industries.' Imran Raza Ansari, Minister for Information Technology, said Kashmir Valley 'is in the news not on a positive note and this negativity needs to be dispelled by disseminating the success stories.' 'No denying there is no problem but there are many success stories these need to be highlighted'. Ansari further said the State has 'huge youth population with a literacy rate of 92 percent which is higher than the national average while 57 percent are highly educated.' 'This needs to be harnessed as IT sector has a strong base in the state, ' he said. Kashmir's economy is predominantly dependent on its services sector and it has grown by an average 5.38% in the period between fiscal years 2012 and 2017 and it can register 8.5 percent growth in 2018. According to a note prepared by the PHD Chamber, services account for about 58% of the state's Rs 1.26 trillion 'economy, with industry and agriculture accounting for 23% and 19%, respectively.' The state is focusing on promoting small and medium enterprises as well as environmentally benign sectors like electronics, IT and IT-enabled services, biotechnology, food processing and pharmaceuticals. On the occasion, a document on the economic situation on J&K titled as 'Kashmir: The Way Forward' was also released that gives an idea about an investment opportunity in the state. On the occasion, a short video film depicting Kashmiri people's warm hospitality titled as 'The Warmest Place on the Earth' was screened. The PHD chamber invited more than 150 ambassadors and diplomats from the 40 countries to the conference and the staff of 30 to 35 foreign missions turned up for the event. Major countries like USA, UK and Turkey ambassadors did not attend the meet. In his opening remarks, Anil Khaitan, president PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, suggested that 'the state must focus on its inherent strengths which are its key industries namely agricultural, food processing, horticulture, floriculture, handloom, handicrafts and tourism, IT sector and others.' While extending support to the state government in 'fostering economic growth,' Khaitan said the J&K 'government's industrial policy of 2016 would create huge employment opportunities for the population of the state.' Chairman PHD Chamber Kashmir, Mushtaq Ahmed Chaya, said the state has a strong environment for the industries including horticulture, floriculture, handloom, handicrafts and tourism, IT sector. He said the state has a strong base of services sector as it 'contributes around 58 percent to the GSVA.' Sunil Kumar, president Travel Agents Association, said: 'there is no place in the world like Kashmir as I visited more 84 countries.'