After an illustrious career spanning over 29 years when Dr Mohammad Ismail Parray, superannuated as Director of the J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI), he left behind hundreds of moist eyes and a legacy unmatched, at least in J&K. As the head of EDI, Dr Parray saw its growth from one room office space in state-run Institute of Management, Public Administration and Rural Development (IMPARD), at Srinagar, to sprawling campuses in all three regions of J&K.
His biggest achievement as EDI directors was institution’s Sempora campus, which he helped in emerging as a symbol of “corruption free” zone in India’s No 2, “most corrupt state”.
For 13 years as EDI’s head, Dr Parry made sure that the institution, despite being a training centre, remains financially self-sustaining. In 2016, heavily armed militants took refuge in two EDI buildings twice (February and October), triggering massive gunfights. The ensuing encounters that spread over days left both the buildings completely damaged. In February, a day after all three militants were killed, EDI was back to business from one of their hostel buildings. This was done despite the fact that the main building, where from entire EDI staff used to operate was still smouldering. The reconstruction of the main building was done in a record time under Dr Parry’s supervision.
Born in Akhal village of Kulgam, Dr Parray came from a modest background. An arts graduate, he chooses history for his masters and eventually did his PhD from the University of Kashmir’s Central Asian Studies department.
After getting involved with some academic projects at the University of Kashmir briefly, Dr Parray joined IMPARD as Assistant Professor in 1991 in the Rural Development faculty.
A few years later, Dr Parray was elevated to the position of Associate Professor and for a brief period was even elevated to the position of IMPARD’s Joint Director.
In 2004, the government asked him to conduct a training course for J&KEDI that had no physical address.
Within days of final decision to set up a training institute in J&K, Dr Parry was appointed as the OSD of non-existent EDI. To help him start the project, a few officers from the Industries Ministry were transferred to aide him.
Finally, under Dr Parry’s watchful eyes EDI took off and started operating from the IMPARD premises.
Initially, managing the yet to start EDI was an additional assignment to Dr Parray. To start with Dr Parray involved various Government of India promotional agencies to help youth in J&K get trained in various trades.
He ran small orientation and crash courses on gems and jewellery and other crafts with the help of various departments of state and central government. He managed forward linkages to help scores of farmers get into commercial floriculture.
A workaholic and hardworking man, Dr Parray legacy as EDI director would be his ability to work and deliver despite strife and a culture of corruption. Implementing at least three major self-employment schemes, there are a few thousand successful entrepreneurs working across the state as employers.
With Dr Parray out of the EDI, the government will have to get into quick decision-making and fill the void by appointing a new officer or officers who know how the EDI emerged, worked and delivered on the ground. It has been perhaps the only institution in J&K where time valued and hiring people was as good a norm as firing them. It was the institution where results of any examination would be out well before the candidate would reach home and a phone call would communicate the selection, days ahead the postman would deliver the communication.
– Shams Irfan