Following the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 (a), attracted to the beauty and land of Jammu & Kashmir many individuals and corporate houses organizations have started queuing up with their investment plans in J&K and Ladakh. Though this is an initial phase and as the potential investors are waiting for normalization of the present conditions and for the special packages and incentives those might be declared by the governments. Pending formal notification of declaring J&K and Ladakh as Union Territories, the Director of Industries (J&K) and many political people are travelling across the country to woo the investors to set up their respective industries in the UT’s. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, during his recent visit to Gulf countries made an appeal to NRI’s and big industrial houses to come forward with their investment plans. However, the investment summit that was planned at Srinagar in October 2019 has been postponed for an indefinite period.
The attempts are not new to invite investment in J&K state to boost economy to create job opportunities for the youth those otherwise are failing prey to the separatist’s propaganda. Even if assumed that the Article 370 was a major obstacle in attracting the investment, now since it has been abrogated the investment, sooner or later, should start flowing in. But a careful thought is necessary as to in which areas it should come and in which manner. Mr. Sanjay Nahar of Sarhad has proposed an investment model for J&K and Ladakh that now is being known as “Pune Model” and has been appreciated by Central and State government as well. All the new investments those may contribute to the economy of both the Union Territories are expected to follow this model and many proposals from Maharashtra, through Sarhad led by Mr. Nahar, are based on this model.
We need to understand this model. It is a well-known fact that Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh’s geology is fragile. Heavy industries along with chemical, engineering or electronics industries are very difficult to establish there because it won’t be a commercially viable options for the lack of availability of the raw material and huge transportation costs.
Only possibly viable industries will be tourism, education, food processing, health and animal husbandry. The investment should come in these and allied areas only and that too with the local partnership, leadership, and management that will preserve the self-respect of the Kashmiris.
Sarhad has already taken an initiative in this direction. Sarhad will open the schools with local leadership and partnership in the areas that have been severely affected by terrorism like Doda. A co-operative credit society is being formed to provide micro loans to the small but budding entrepreneurs. Sarhad also will provide training to the local teachers and equip them with the latest technologies. Land ownership will remain with the locals. Teachers and management also will be local. Investing partners will have financial control and will supervise the activities. According to Mr. Nahar, this model will not only boost the self -respect of the Kashmiris but also will feel that they are not just being looked upon as the vulnerable lot.
Mr. Nahar has proposed this model with the Maharashtrian education institutions and other industrial houses those have submitted their proposals with the J&K government and has been successful in gaining their initial consent. Vishvakarma Institute, Dr. D. Y. Patil University, S.P College, JKS and Arham are such leading institutes among many have made their proposals based on “Pune Model.” This is a good start and other industries, not only for Maharashtra but from the rest of the country are expected to follow this model.
“Self-respect, employment generation and local leadership” are the key points which need to be focused. If the sole purpose of any investor is to grab lands and take disadvantage of government packages without taking into the consideration locals and their aspirations, such attempts are bound to fail. Also, the government needs to make a law that if the land bought by any investor is not used for the purpose it has been bought within five years, the ownership of the land should go back to the original owners or else investors possibly will misuse the lands. All potential investors need to think in which areas they should invest and in which manner. No industry that may prove harmful to the local ecology of Kashmir, Jammu, and Ladakh should be forced upon the people. Sensing possible danger to ecology Ladakhis already have started raising voice against industrialisation that may endanger ecology and culture.
While preserving the natural beauty of Kashmir we certainly need to boost the economy, latest education facilities, employment opportunities but it has to happen in a manner that local dissatisfaction, angst, and distrust is not fuelled. This is why Pune Model proposed and being implemented by Sanjay Nahar becomes path-breaking and commendable!
(The author is Historian)