Rahul seeks big biz houses help for development of trade, industry in J&K

Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, Oct 5:  Congress general secretary, Rahul Gandhi, today urged the big industrial houses of the country to come forward for development of trade and industry in Jammu and Kashmir. He sought more powers for Panchayats of the State but left the issue of amendments to the Panchayat Act to the State Government.
Rahul while speaking at the high level interaction session organized by him between the entrepreneurs of State and the big industrial houses of the Country here at Kashmir University told the industrial- ists to be important player in the stupendous goal of catapulting economy of Jammu and Kashmir and expanding employment orbit for the youth of the State.
He hoped that big Industrial houses of the country and entrepreneurs of the State would jointly work for development of trade and industry in the State that has been ravaged by over two decades of militancy.
Ghandi was accompanied by Chairman Tata Group, Ratan Tata, Chairman Aditya Birla Group, Kumar Mangalum, Chairman HDFC Ltd., Deepak Parekh, Chairman Bajaj Auto Ltd., Rajeev Bajaj and MD and CEO Team Lease, Ashok Reddy to the Kashmir University.
Later speaking to the media after an interactive session with students of Kashmir University and interactive session between industrial houses and local entrepreneurs, Rahul pledged to do his bit in building a long-term relationship with the youth of the State and fulfill their aspirations.
“I think we have some of the brightest children in the room behind us. We need to work together with them and with other youngsters like them in Jammu and Kashmir to show them what can be achieved and what the future is and that they should take part in it”, said Rahul.
The Congress general secretary said his main aim was to build trust and a long-term relationship with the youth of the state. “They are very very happy to speak with the businessmen and they are aspirational and we want to fulfill as many of their aspirations as possible. My aim is to develop trust and a long-term relationship with the youth of Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.
Gandhi said that the students of the University had mentioned to him that they would like to speak to some big businessmen and discuss job placements. “So I had brought some of the titans of the industry to Kashmir to have a word with them”, he added.
The Congress General Secretary said he and the businessmen had a nice conversation with the “very very bright students and we want to try and see if we can build a future together”.
Rahul said the symbioses between the big business houses of the country and local entrepreneurs would result in the economic development and job creation for youth in the State. He said hydro power generation, agriculture and allied sectors, software engineering, horticulture, food processing, handicrafts and handlooms are sectors offering greater promises to the industrialists of the country.
The local entrepreneurs had comprehensive and wide-ranging discussion with the big industrial houses of the country on the launch of joint, independent and PPP mode projects in the State.
The industrialists of the country showed keen interest in launching joint projects with the local entrepreneurs in feasible areas. They appreciated the endeavour of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah for providing condusive conditions for outside investors in the State. “We would like to invest here”, they said and added that all possibilities would be explored for investing in various areas in the Valley in collaboration with the State Government and local entrepreneurs.
The industrialists lauded the efforts of Chief Minister for encouraging industrial houses of the country to launch projects in the State. “You have opened new vistas for us to launch projects in the State”, they told the  Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister invited them to venture in thrust areas particularly hydro power generation, tourism, handicrafts, health, horticulture and agriculture which have great potential.
Tata Group chairman, Ratan Tata said: “It has been a real step forward to be able to have a conversation with a great wealth of human capital that exists in Kashmir”. He said: “What Mr Gandhi has done is not open a window but open a door”.
Tata said it was for the industry leaders to do something for people of the state so that they become a part of the growth and development of the country. “It is for us as people in the industry to look beyond our normal places of endeavour to do something in the state, to do something with State and to do something for the people that will bring prosperity and change,” he added.
Tata said the interactive session with the students has displayed the intelligence as also the ability and keenness to participate in the growth and development of India. “The potential is enormous and I think what has happened is today that the doors have been opened,” he added.
Kumara Mangalam Birla from Aditya Birla group announced that they are exploring ways to facilitate an exchange program for the students of the University of Kashmir within next 3-4 months at countries prestigious BITS Pilani which will enhance the practical skills and know how of the students and increase their employability in the corporate world.
Responding to a query about the campus placements in the University Deepak S Parekh from HDFC group said: “We have made it a point that every year the HR personnel from our bank visit the Kashmir University and identify the best talent for the job opportunity. We have been doing it for the past few years since we started our business in the valley and in future we will continue with the practice.”
Rahul Gandhi later inaugurated the IT block of the University of Kashmir, and laid foundations for Research scholars hostel for boys which is coming up at
Zakura campus and Lal Ded girls hostel of the University of Kashmir for which funds have already been sanctioned by Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Later in the afternoon speaking to around 3000 Panchayat members at SKICC, Rahul Gandhi said implementation of amendments empowering Panchayats was the prerogative of the State Government, putting to rest speculation of a rift with Congress ally National Conference on this issue. “Implementation of 73rd and 74th amendment of Panchayati Raj Act was the prerogative of the state government”, he said.
However, Rahul Gandhi faced embracement as some of the Panchayat leaders walked out of a meeting with him at SKICC, Srinagar. Expressing their displeasure, the Panchayat leaders said that they were angry with the Congress leader as they were not offered anything in the meeting.
They said that Mr Gandhi spoke to them about more empowerment for the panchayat, but didn’t commit to changes in the Panchayats Act that would allow this. Angry Panchayat members, raised slogans in protest and demanded that the Act be amended. They said that Mr Gandhi had promised in Delhi that all issues would be discussed. “Very few actually were discussed here”, they added.
Rahul had, at a meet in Delhi with a Sarpanch delegation from the State, had said that the State Government needed to provide greater security to them. The Sarpanch leaders demanded that they be issued gun licences so that they could take care of their own security.
Speaking to reporters, Rahul avoided questions on the walkout by the Panchayat leaders, but reiterated that he was in Jammu and Kashmir “to build bridges”. “Hopefully we will be able to build another tunnel. Panchayats are not getting the rights they are entitled to,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the security environment in Jammu and Kashmir was congenial for multinational companies to come to the state and help in its economic growth.
During a luncheon meeting with top businessmen of the country including Ratan Tata and Kumar Manglam Birla besides Kashmiri entrepreneurs, Omar spoke about the various areas where India Inc could step in and help in rebuilding the economic sector of the state, sources privy to the meeting said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who was also present at the meeting, asked business leaders to look for ways and means for spreading their trade to the state.
Talking about the state, Omar said the security situation in the state has shown considerable improvement and his government’s main aim was focused on reducing the unemployment.
The improved security situation should instill confidence among the business houses, he said.
Sharing the same thoughts, Tata group Chairman Ratan Tata said that India Inc would definitely like to be an economic stake holder in the state.
Besides Tata, Aditya Birla group Kumar Manglam Birla, HDFC chairman Deepak Parikh and Managing Director of Bajaj Auto Rajeev Bajaj, Chairman of Sun Silk Sheikh Imran, Managing Director ‘Tresh’ (mineral water) Farooq Amin were present at the meeting.
Omar said the vast talent of students needed to be tapped and the India Inc could play a major role in this regard.
Some of the industrialists present at the meeting including Tata assured that their companies would hold campus recruitments.
Earlier, Tata met Omar at a breakfast meeting and expressed his desire to expand his group’s activities in the state.
During the meeting, they explored the possibility of cooperation in information technology, hospitality, agro-product and horticulture sectors, the sources said.
Both agreed that a top-level delegation from the state government and the Tata group will meet soon to discuss mutually beneficial areas.
The 74-year-old industrialist recalled his fond memories of visits to the Kashmir Valley with his grandfather and stay at a house boat in Nigeen lake.
Omar extended an invitation to Tata to relive his childhood memories.


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