Beyond IAS frenzy

Naeem Akhtar
The celebrations around the selection of four Kashmir boys to the elite IAS are now assuming ridiculous dimensions. The topper of the year Shah Faisal is a deserving candidate for a call from the PMO and it should be viewed as well earned honor.
But everyone who felt related to the achievement of the boys was shocked to see a news item in the local press that Faisal’s Delhi trip has been sponsored by a local hotelier. There couldn’t have been a more scandalous or inauspicious beginning to the outstanding achiever’s career.
It is time to look beyond the current year’s civil services results. I recently came across a more fundamental and wholesome indicator of Kashmir’s arrival in the modern job market and a promise of future.
Indian Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) was established in its upgraded form in Srinagar in 2007 when the first batch of 100 students was enrolled through the usual all India competition. Lately the intake capacity has been increased to 150 for the degree course.
In the first batch for degree course only 15 boys from the state had got admission. This number is now growing with every passing year as awareness increases.
The good news for the state is that all the 15 local boys got recruited to the best hotel chains of the world whereas the same is not true of their class fellows from other states. The chains that picked up the boys include Taj, ITC and Radisson for their five and seven star properties. What is more important is the fact that all these chains have picked up all Kashmiri boys which means it is now they who have the choice to select their employer. The institute which had been declared a problem institute in the past bagged two national awards this year.
Hospitality industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country. But unfortunately the state has been lagging behind in this important field.
Middle East and Gulf are full of Malayalees. In fact they constitute the backbone of hospitality and other allied services there, thanks to a timely intervention by the governments there.
The oil boom in the Middle East spawned a huge service sector there in mid seventies of the last century. Kashmiris with their cultural inclinations, personality characteristics and a hospitality tradition could have captured the market almost without a competition. But unfortunately Sheikh Abdullah launched an incentive scheme for illiteracy through the ill advised carpet weaving centers.
When another opportunity came knocking with the IT boom around 1990 we busied ourselves in a completely different occupation. Naturally, the positives of globalization and market economy did not even touch us even though it took its toll through introduction of brazen consumerism and destruction of traditional value system.
The state does not need an overseas employment corporation as has been promised by government employee policy. Instead we need to create a base of skilled youth who will find jobs anywhere. Overseas corporation has ironically been prescribed four decades too late as a panacea for unemployment. Our planners still are not aware that India is now the largest market for the skilled personnel.
Truly we are living in darkness. The IHM boys have provided an opening out of it. Is anybody on look out?

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