Kashmir worst state for business: WB
Views from Srinagar
NISSAR BHAT NEMPLOYMENT is one of the grave problems Jammu and Kashmir has been facing. The shortcuts that we have over the years used to deal with this did not work obviously for the reason that this problem could not intrinsically be dealt with shortcuts. It needs vibrant policy intervention.
Finance minister was right in pointing out there is urgent need to have a new policy vis-à-vis the current scenario and not the one formulated decades ago. But before working on such a policy, we need to have a comprehensive review of all those measures adopted over the years in this regard. We need to find out why such measures failed.
One of the fundamental flaws with government policy interventions has been that they have not been able to do away with the government-job-dependency-syndrome in Kashmir. Instead, many government policies have proved harmful than helpful in this regard. Like for example, when all over the world the developed economies have facilitated shifting of people from the agriculture towards the industry and service sectors for the purpose of achieving growth across sectors, we have done something that is unheard of.
We have brought people out from the agriculture
Uto engage in government sector as rehbar-e-taleems, rehbar-e-zirats, etc. By doing so we have done disservice both to the agriculture as well as to the government sector! While on the one hand we have burdened our state exchequer, on the other we have made the agriculturally rich Kashmir a net food importing state. Not that we should not have shifted people from the agriculture— where there is huge underemployment. But their shifting should have been for industry and service sectors and those remaining in the agriculture should have been strengthened with every possible support by the government.
Secondly, although we have an industrial policy in place offering ample incentives for establishing manufacturing units, we have not been able to provide our entrepreneurs the supporting atmosphere like in terms of better roads, electricity, etc. Modern day industries thrive on road and communication connectivity that we are lacking in both.
Our general trade and commerce too has suffered for want of better infrastructure. The decrepit inter-district road connectivity is one of the major reasons stifling the growth of home grown industries in the rural belt in Kashmir. Governments across the world create enabling atmosphere for businesses to grow, industries to thrive, service to boom, but our story is different. We don’t create enabling atmosphere for across-theboard growth in different sectors; we instead enable youth to become more and more dependent on government service.
The World Bank recently ranked Jammu and Kashmir among the ‘worst states’ for business. In its report ‘All India Assessment of Business Reforms’, Jammu and Kashmir was ranked at 29th place among 32 states in India in the list of ‘best performing states in implementation of reforms’.
This amply demonstrates the failure of the successive governments in the state to bring about necessary reforms for the promotion and growth of business and investment in the state.
According to the list, only Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh are behind J&K, while Gujarat tops the list scoring 71.14 per cent in the status of implementation of the 98-point Reforms agenda as against 5.93 per cent secured by Jammu and Kashmir. While the political uncertainty that has dogged this state over the years is surely one of the reasons for stifling the growth of its business and industry, the role of the successive state governments in this regard has not been encouraging either. That this state has so far failed to evolve and adopt a well-devised investment policy having potential to attract large scale investments into the state is shame.
Although, some may argue that our investment policy offers ample incentives to the investors, yet the point that needs to be pondered upon is as to why it has failed to bring in investments into the state. At a time when other states in India have attracted massive investments, why the state of Jammu and Kashmir is starving?
While the World Bank assessment is a serious indictment of the successive state governments, it nonetheless offers an opportunity for the present coalition government in the state to gear up and focus on new ways and policies to attract investments.
The former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed had made certain efforts by visiting some reputed business houses in the country inviting them to come to Kashmir. Such efforts need to be continued while simultaneously there is a lot of scope in improving our investment policy. We need to improve upon the infrastructure deficiencies so as the investment in Kashmir becomes easier. Also, the state needs to encourage the local investors and NRKs to make investments in the state.
In the backwatered economies jobs remain obscured in certain sectors, while people try to find them elsewhere. That is our story. Let the government help people find those jobs. The job is difficult, but not impossible. —Courtesy: GK