Economic Freedom Should Not Be Subservient To Delhi: Mir

Awantipur – Stressing the need of joint efforts by the government, civil society and youth to curb counterfeiting and adulteration of products, Jammu and Kashmir minister for agriculture, Ghulam Hassan Mir, Friday said the menace posed a serious threat to the state economy.

Talking to Kashmir Observer on the sidelines of a function at the Islamic University of Science and technology (IUST) Mir said his concept of ‘economic independence’ was not subservient to New Delhi. “It (economic freedom) envisages that every individual and every region should be prosperous,” he said.

On the conversion of agriculture land for construction purposes, the minister said the government had formulated a law, which is with a select committee of the assembly. “Once the law is passed, there will be difference,” he said.

Earlier speaking at the “Aalav-Youth Festival on Consumer Rights,” organized by the IUST in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FICCI) and Rotary Club of Kashmir Valley, the minister said counterfeiting was a deep rooted evil, of which we should be ashamed of. “If we want to develop a society known for its characteristics, we should avoid counterfeiting,” Mir said.

He said such things were discussed at political and civil society levels, but had no impact unless youth were involved in the effort. “Youth can make people aware of the bad effects of counterfeiting,” he said.

Besides counterfeiting in products like saffron, handicrafts and handloom, the minister said, the adulteration in pesticides was a big challenge. Admitting the laws were soft about the criminality, the minister said, “at certain places we have to be harsher,” adding the criminals should be dealt with firmly.

Calling upon universities to start courses in counterfeiting, the minister asked them to lead the society on how such crimes could be curbed. He hoped the IUST would start such a campaign.

Speaking on the occasion, IUST vice-chancellor, Prof A R Trag, said such events were important for the revival of traditional cottage industries and saffron- which faced the brunt of counterfeiting.

He said it was shameful that in the name of Kashmir, shawls from places like Amritsar were being sold to unsuspecting buyers. Besides adulteration, Trag said, it was the non-implementation of modern technology, which was posing threat to saffron. “For better production, people should adopt modern technology,” he said.

In her address, head FICCI CASCADE (Committee against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy), Meenu Chandran, said the FICCI was of the opinion that the activities like counterfeiting and smuggling were going to destroy the economy. “FICCI wants to create an awareness level across the country,” she said, adding youth could contribute in this a great deal.

The president Rotary Club of Kashmir, Dr Amit Wanchoo, said Kashmir had suffered a lot on account of counterfeiting and adulteration. “We are losing our artisans,” he said adding it was an alarming situation. He said this was the first youth festival happening in India, and the IUST was the first university to hold it. The FICCI is going to have joint friendship with IUST in the near future. “Aalav will continue its efforts till we control counterfeiting,” he added.

Veteran journalist, Brij Bharadwaj, said education and awareness were fundamental and called upon students to be ready for the challenges ahead. He said such events should become a regular feature in colleges and universities.

To a question about the serious allegations National Conference additional general-secretary and chief minister’s uncle, Dr Mustafa Kamaal, had leveled against him at a party function in Jammu’s border areas recently, Mir refused to comment.

“My life is an open book and the people are my strength,” he said.

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