Jammu and Kashmir badly needs zero profit investment to kickstart economic revival.
BISMAH MALIK ,SRINAGAR, Nov 25: It has been a year almost since Chief Minister Omar Abdullah laid the foundation stone of a BPO run by a big corporate house of India, ESSAR group of industries at Rangreth Industrial Area in Srinagar. This was not any other foundation stone which is usually overlooked by the people. This foundation stone had its roots in the aspirations and ambitions of a politically tired and change enthused young generation of Jammu and Kashmir who want to embrace the dynamism of globalization and end the era of utter dependence.
But all that happened for the year was renovation of the building where the BPO wing was supposedly thought to be established, with the process of its setting up still under wraps.
Quite ironical, that how a big corporate gun of India has been unable to set up its BPO wing in a span of 12 months and more ironical how despite countless assurances from the government of roping in big business conglomerates , nobody has turned up.
Jobs, better salary packages for educated and skilled manpower of the state sounded lucrative enough for a capable but desirous population to come out of the shackles of dark period of frustration and poverty and the anticipated results were thought to be worth the wait.
But has the year long wait really been worth? Of the 40,000 jobs related with the private sector that were promised in the initial phase of employment generation promise, not even a single job has been bestowed.
One fails to understand the reason behind the monotonous assurances from government on boosting the private sector of the state with the help of non-local entrepreneurs when they are least bothered about the state economy, forget about investments.
And the words from horse’s mouth Narayan Murthy, one of the pioneers of Indian IT revolution say it all “Kashmir valley does not make any sense to Infosys in particular and investor community in general.”, which is what he said on the sidelines of J&K Bank’s Corporate Office launch few years back.
The latest Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) report in November, 2009 went on to suggest the peace measures to be adopted for J&K instead of focusing on the potent sectors where corporate India could cash in hence reinforcing the stereotype of its minimal interest in invigorating the state’s jeopardized economy.
Though Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) was quick enough to reciprocate the FICCI statements with oppositely justified comments, nevertheless KCCI also took the refuge of state government when it came to capitalizing on self-sufficient industrial units and exploring the naïve ones.
What a major portion of the state’s business community opines is that instead of wasting our time and some money on luring foreign investors to leverage their so called “potentialities “on our gifted resources, there could have a formidable strategy chalked out by both governmental and non-governmental organizations towards reviving some of the old industries which have been worst hit in the last two decades.
Even though sectors like tourism and agriculture have received a genuine part of consideration from government and deservingly so, there are many other sectors which have not even been restored to their lost merits.
For instance, a significant sector which had begun having its impact on state’s economy in 1980s was”electronics and communications industry” when the sector was at its thriving best.
This was an era when the state could have been described as heading towards social and economic growth thanks to the complementing natural and man-made resources.
Electronics and Communication wave had just hit the rest of the country and the investors were closely monitoring the probable areas where they could set up their units. Kashmir, it seemed was everyone’s favourite destination. In Electronics and Communication sector alone, a public sector undertaking- “KashCon” was established as early as in 1983 which was a Televison Assembling Plant.
Later some local entrepreneurs who were mostly engineering graduates started their small ventures which dealt with making hardware for the companies outside the state .There existed a local company by the name of “Maple circuits” which was fabricating PCB boards for computers and it achieved a phenomenal success in a short span of time when computers were making their presence feel all over the country.
Similarly, some well known brands like Videocon, Onida, and Philips established their manufacturing units here employing local man power and contributing to economy inadvertently. The veterans say that at that time, it was thought unwise of an engineering graduate to move out of state for seeking employment opportunities when there was an exceptional demand for the same in this state.
And now the tables have completely turned and the picture is wide clear.
Government jobs dictate the employment opportunities. Privatization is nowhere to be seen. Non-local investment seems day-dreaming. True, economy has been on a backtrack ever since, but the clichéd reasoning of unavailability of adequate financial and skilled resources hold no ground in present times when the Below Poverty Line(BPL) ratio of the state is diminishing and eligible job seekers are increasing with each passing year.
Therefore, it becomes imperative for both the government and the emerging corporate sector to shake hands, rethink the policy of quick, short-term investment in both natural and human resources backed sectors so that the ”dark period of our economy” becomes history soon.