PM’s Visit

IN a telling statement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday assured the youth of Kashmir that they will not suffer the way their parents and grandparents had in the past as he addressed the 30 lakh elected rural local body members across the country on the occasion of Panchayat Divas celebrations from the Samba district’s Palli village. He asserted that he will live up to his word and that he had come to Jammu and Kashmir to give the people this assurance. The PM also inaugurated and laid the foundation stones of a slew of projects for the Union Territory.

This was the prime minister’s first visit to Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 and was primarily meant to give impetus to the development activity in the union territory. Over the last two and a half years the centre has made every effort to bring investment to the UT. The results have not been to the expectations. But in the recent past, the attempt to bring investment has picked up some momentum. In March, the  CEOs from several Gulf countries  – mostly from real estate, hospitality, development, food processing and agriculture – visited Kashmir to explore the investment opportunities. The visit came two months after the J&K government inked several agreements with the global investors at the Dubai Expo2020.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said the government is hopeful to bring an investment of over Rs 70,000 crores in the next six months. The visit of the UAE CEOs has created some hope on this score. People in the UT would like the economy to grow to produce jobs. In recent years, unemployment among youth has become rampant. The reason for this, in part,  is the extended successive lockdowns over the last two years owing to political turmoil and subsequently because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This wrought havoc with businesses, particularly  tourism, the mainstay of the Kashmir economy which left a large section of the population without jobs.  But in recent months with the abating of the pandemic, tourists have made their way back to the Valley in thousands. This has given a leg up to the otherwise battered economy.

One can only hope that the situation looks up from here on. And the PM Modi has assured the people of the UT that they will. For widespread unemployment to end, the Kashmir economy has to look up. And this won’t be possible by the revival of tourism alone.

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