Introduction to KashmirForum.org Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

Please send your personal suggestions or relevant news clips by clicking here and these will be posted at the earliest opportunity. Differing points of view are welcome and encouraged. Thank you.

Vijay Sazawal

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Tourism is nice, but it does not create adequate jobs in our State that has predominantly agriculture based economy

Develop leather sector in JK

(Dr. Mazaffar Bhat from Chandoora, Budgam district, argues for private sector development in an agrarian economy.)

LETTER PUBLISHED IN THE DAILY ETALAAT, 2 JANUARY, 2008

We all know that Jammu Kashmir state has been going through a worst kind of political, social and psychological turmoil since last nearly two decades. In addition to political instability many more socio-economic problems have increased manifold which are eating up the vitals of our society. One of the most important socio-economic problems is the problem of un-employment. This is a global problem nowadays but as for as our state is concerned unemployment has crippled the life of our educated unemployed youth who in spite of being highly educated are jobless. The government departments are already overflowed by the employees. We all have to acknowledge this hard fact that there are hardly any avenues in government sector now plus JK state ranks number one with regard to number of government employees (population wise). If we talk of private sector it is still under-developed in our state. Only a few sectors are being explored by the state government. Moreover our politicians lack political sagacity with the result we find lot of restlessness in our youth.

In order to generate more jobs for our unemployed youth, government has to explore the possibilities of developing private sector in Jammu Kashmir state. There are many private sectors other than tourism, handicrafts and horticulture, which have enormous potential if they are exploited in a more professional way. One of such sectors is leather sector. In Jammu Kashmir as per the statistics of Jammu Kashmir Kisaan Tehreek (a Peasants Organisation) an estimated nine lakh cattle including buffallows,12 lack goats,19 lack sheep are being consumed annually. But this is a matter of grave concern for all of us that in spite of such a huge consumption of mutton and beef we still do not have any well established large sector leather industry. We do not find any high-tech leather processing units or tanneries in our state. Every day we see trucks loaded with animal skins and hides are being transported to cities like Ludhiana, Jallandher, Agra and Delhi where there are many large scale and small scale leather industries. This is a shame on part of our politicians and policy makers that in spite of such a large amount of raw material availability in this sector still our state government is unaware of it. Nothing has been done to develop leather sector. This is clear sign of depravity on part of the state government. Our government is only putting its efforts to develop handicrafts, tourism, etc and consequently problem of unemployment is increasing with each passing day. Our state government must ensure setting up of large and small scale leather industries. I request the business class of our state to come forward and play their role to ensure establishment of leather processing units. This sector has a lot of revenue generating capacity and above all it will open up many, many new job opportunities for a large chunk of our educated unemployed youth. I hope our state government will soon adapt a policy about establishing leather processing units in the state on much larger scale.

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
Gopalpora, Chadoora, Kashmir

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