Referring to the huge potential of micro, small and medium enterprises in employment generation, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, on Sunday sought greater financial support and technical knowhow from the Centre in revitalizing the state’s industrial sector.
She also highlighted the predicament of the people of J&K, who, she said become the first casualty of any hostile environment between India and Pakistan. She said only sustained peace in the region can allow her government to resuscitate the state’s financial health by reviving core sectors of economy, including small scale industries. “Since partition, Kashmir, the paradise on earth, has been caught in a web of violence. This has adversely affected our economy and prevented our state from realizing its full potential,” she stated.
The Chief Minister was addressing a gathering, after jointly inaugurating the first-ever National Khadi Exhibition with Union MSME Minister, Kalraj Mishra, here today.
Minister for I&C, Chander Parkash, Legislators, Anjum Fazili and Ramesh Arora, Chairman, KVIC, V. K. Saxena and Union Secretary MSME. K. K. Jalan, were also present on the occasion.
Reflecting upon India’s relations with Pakistan and former Prime Minister, A. B. Vajpayee’s efforts in ending years of deadlock, the Chief Minister said her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, made a historic beginning in 2003 to bring Kashmir out of the quagmire of violence. She said during his first tenure as Chief Minister, peace returned on borders and India and Pakistan talked business for the very first time. “When the bus carrying visitors from across the LoC arrived here from Muzaffarabad, people could not believe the unfolding of a new era of peace and stability in the region. Unfortunately, that peace initiative was not taken forward,” she lamented.
The Chief Minister also spoke about the efforts made to revive the cross-LoC trade at Chakan da Bagh, in Poonch and Salamabad, in Uri, Baramulla, by navigating to the banking system of operation from barter trade. She also spoke about broadening the scope of LoC commerce by incorporating more tradable items in the approved list as well as opening additional crossing points to boost travel across the LoC.
Referring to the fractured mandate of 2014 elections in which no party got a clear cut majority, Mehbooba Mufti said she chose to follow in the footsteps of her father, who had chosen the toughest option of aligning with BJP, which alone guarantees a representative government that respects the wishes and aspirations of people in all the three regions of the state and could revive the peace process in the region. “With thaw in relations between the two neighbours, I am hopeful that dividends of peace will reach the people with dignity and honour,” she added.
Drawing the attention of the people towards India’s growing international stature, the Chief Minister hailed the way its visionary leaders, over the years, have nurtured its powerful democratic institutions. “There is freedom of speech and people holding contrarian views can voice their opinions publicly,” she added.
Seeking Centre’s support in promotion of famed handicrafts of the state, Mehbooba Mufti vouched for cluster approach for which, she said detailed discussions have been held with the Union Minister. She urged Kalraj Mishra to pay special attention towards this sector, which has a huge export market overseas.
The MSME Minister, in his address, said the khadi exhibition will help young industrialists to find buyers for their products. He said the Union government will extend all possible help to the young entrepreneurs in the state and also referred to his meeting with the Chief Minister in which issues of skill development and promotion of MSME sector were discussed in detail.
After inaugurating the exhibition, the Chief Minister, along with the Union Minister, went around the stalls and interacted with the entrepreneurs, particularly inquiring about the marketing and institutional support extended to them. She also appreciated the quality of products on display, ranging from hand-woven items to sports goods.
During the month-long exhibition, more than 200 stalls of genuine khadi and village products from J&K and outside will be on show where people can buy wide array of products on affordable rates.
Khadi & Village Industries sector has come up a viable option to mitigate unemployment. It has so far created job opportunities for about two lakh workers and artisans in the state under different schemes of the government.
Also present were Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Hassan Samoon, Secretary Tourism, Farooq A. Shah, DC, Srinagar, Farooq A. Lone, CEO, KVIB, Mir Afroz, Director I&C, Kashmir, Nazim Zai Khan, Director, Tourism, Kashmir, Mahmood Ahmad Shah and MD Handicrafts (S&E) Corporation, I. A. Drabu.