Guiding the industry

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EDI programme is trying nurture industrial consultancy firms in J&K to boost the developing sector. Haroon Mirani reports.

EDITo plug the lacunae of professional consultants in Kashmir’s industrial sector, Entrepreneurship Development Institute(JKEDI) has embarked on a programme to create industrial consultants.

An industrial consultancy firm usually comprises of a chartered accountant, engineer and other professionals who prepare detailed project reports (DPRs) and evaulvate the viability of a project. There are around three dozen industrial consultancies registered with the state’s Industries department.

DR S N Alam, Chief Consultant Seed Capital fund Scheme run by Entrepreneurship Development Institute says that when they tried to locate these firms they could only find seven in Kashmir and five in Jammu.

“Many advertisements in local press did not elicit any response from many of these registered consultancy firms which might have shut shop,” he said.

Industrialists say the sector is badly affected due to lack of genuine industrial consultants.

“Whatever consultancy service is present here does not suffice to new age industrial needs,” said Shakeel Qallander. “The consultants lack the skills needed for helping prospective entrepreneurs.”

Many businesses in Jammu avail services of Punjab or Delhi-based consultants.
The registered firms also work more like an unorganized sector, with no websites, no information and rarely a project to compete with international or even national standards.

“The problem is that consultancy has not been institutionalized in Kashmir,” said S Khurshid-ul-Islam Associate Professor at JKEDI.

DPRs are taken just like an annexure of a file for getting loans or getting a project cleared, said an entrepreneur asking not to be named. “No thought goes into this important sector,” he added.

Other problems hampering the consultancy services, experts say, include old laws which are not in sync with present day needs.

“We have laws which were formulated in 1980’s to govern the industrial consultancy,” said a legal expert. “Under these laws and norms it is very difficult to get registration for setting up of a consultancy firm, there are so many formalities.”
J&K Bank has remained an exception, which off late has brought in some discipline in consultancy. The bank has made a manager responsible for good or bad business in his branch, so he takes pains to evaluate a project prepared by a consultant.
Dr Alam of EDI believes that there are 20 to 25 consultancy firms accredited with the J&K Bank.

The need for high class consultants is bound to increase as professionalism is getting trickled down to even smaller financial institutions and other government departments.

“Consultants need to be aware of the modern trends in marketing, technology and managerial skills,” said Qallander. “We need consultants who can guide our prospective entrepreneurs to get latest technology for high quality and competitive production.”

Experts say entrepreneurship development and consultancy are closely related.

“The key to entrepreneurship development in a state lies in the expansion of consultancy services,” Dr Alam said.

Therefore consultancy and its diverse role certainly affect the level and degree of entrepreneurship.

Whatever consultancy firms we have in the state are concentrated in urban Jammu and Srinagar, leaving a vast majority of the state without any avenue of proper guidance in entrepreneurship development.

Industrialists feel that the recently launched technology upgrade scheme by J&K Bank will not yield optimum results until consultancy services in Kashmir get fully professional. “These consultancy services can play a vital role in helping the industries in technology upgradation. But for that they themselves need to have exposure to such trends world over,” said Qallander. “Every technology is accessible to us at our fingertips and it is these consultants which can recommend best technology out of the maze to us, provided they themselves have first hand knowledge of the same.”

Keeping these needs in view, EDI has trained many young finance and engineering professionals, in creating their own consultancy firms.

The EDI has identified ten sectors where consultancy can play a very important role keeping in view potential, resources, raw material, market (at home, in other states & abroad). These include agriculture, horticulture, agro processing, fisheries, mutton & poultry, floriculture, information technology, handicrafts, tourism and constructions /infrastructure development.

It was in this backdrop that Consultancy Development Centre, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology Government of India assigned a study on “Capacity Building of Entrepreneurship Development by Consultants in J&K” to EDI.

“The objective was to study different schemes/ plans of the state and identify opportunities available for entrepreneurship, to identify, train and certify consultants, to initiate efforts for developing a model frame work for mentoring of entrepreneurs by the consultants, to develop a data base of consultants in the state,” said Islam.

The institute also conducted workshops with existing consultants, representatives from financial institutions, industrial promotional agencies and entrepreneurs (both successful and prospective) to understand the issues concerning industrial consultancy in the state.

The institute has formulated separate training modules for existing and prospective consultants.

It has received more than 200 applications for the programme.

“The reasons for low or nil entrepreneurship spirit is due to non- availability of proper guidance in the field of entrepreneurship development,” said an expert. “The worst part of the affair is that since people interested in going for entrepreneurship are not guided properly they therefore join the club of government job seekers.”
The EDI is targeting to create around 100 consultancy firms all over the state, so that expert help is available to prospective entrepreneurs at their doorsteps.

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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