New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is seeking greater people-to-people engagement with the rest of the nation to come out of the crippling isolation it faces on account of perceptions about the Himalayan state, said state finance minister Haseeb Drabu.
At a conference on J&K: The Way Forward, organized by industry chamber PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Drabu said that the state is a “pre-sold destination" and the only word that needs to be spread for its progress is that it is a peaceful state.
Drabu told the gathering of businessmen and ambassadors that the state’s economy needs to be built through collaborative efforts of civil society and institutions rather than by approaching problems as government-to-government or political issues.
According to the minister, perceptions about the state can be changed by better interaction between people. “Every person visiting J&K is a very powerful interlocutor," said Drabu.
The central government had last October appointed former director of the Intelligence Bureau Dineshwar Sharma as its interlocutor for sustained dialogue with all the stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure lasting peace.
The minister said the Jammu and Kashmir government wants to signal to the rest of the world that it is a peaceful state. The state’s economy, which is predominantly dependent on its services sector, has grown by an average 5.38% in the period between fiscal years 2012 and 2017.
Services account for about 58% of the state’s Rs1.26 trillion economy, with industry and agriculture accounting for 23% and 19%, respectively, according to a note prepared by the industry chamber.
Drabu appealed to domestic and overseas investors to include the state in their investment agenda, saying that Jammu and Kashmir is pursuing “peace, harmony and development".
Another industry chamber, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, recently decided to facilitate its members’ expansion in Jammu and Kashmir as policymakers sought to give a boost to the state’s economy by reforming labour laws, building industrial infrastructure in rural areas and cutting logistics costs, Mint reported on 18 January.
The state is focusing on promoting small and medium enterprises as well as environmentally benign sectors like electronics, IT and IT enabled services, biotechnology, food processing and pharmaceuticals.