Prioritize

Two of the three regions that make J&K have an inherent problem. They are far away from the market and the raw material. These two regions – Ladakh and Kashmir, are two sensitive and fragile ecological units that may not sustain certain huge industrial initiatives. Jammu, Kathua and Samba are perhaps only three places that can hazard to host any industry including the agro-chemical units which otherwise are banned in most of the Indian states.
For obvious reasons, the argument is not against industry. This sector is the only area that can help J&K in accommodating the hoards of young educated youth that pass out from colleges, year after year. But J&K would need to make a long term policy of what it actually wants, its requirements and priorities; its targets and possibilities; its weaknesses and strengths.
J&K has certain inherent strengths. Apart from tourism, it is the main apple basket in the region; it has monopoly over almonds, walnuts, apricots, sea-buckthorn and many other fruits. It has huge forests and many sectors that fetch it raw material for specific industrial activity.
Three things must be the immediate priority of the government – rehabilitating the units that are sick and in bad shape because of the situational crisis, encouraging the initiatives that have local raw material and local market and all those entrepreneurs who are producing material to substitute imports.
Over the years, a new genre of entrepreneurs has emerged. They go to study abroad and return to take care of the businesses their families have established. There are some good success stories in the industry in which these young men and women have shown their mettle. Unlike past, J&K has no problems as far as funds go because all the banks operating across J&K are flush with funds.
Jammu’s industrial environment is suited for everything because it is very close to the market and the raw material. But Kashmir and Ladakh are not. There is no harm in getting investors from outside but it should be in areas that will not mar the prospects of locals. Joint ventures and hand holding arrangements will help locals to gain experience and lead to technology transfer. Before that state government must mark an end to the disparity and offer an enabling environment and level playing field for entrepreneurs.

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