Days after Article 370 was scrapped, both big and small firms, such as the Trident Group, Medanta Group, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), CureFit and Policybazaar, have announced plans to invest in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

From fitness centres and hospitals to providing jobs, India Inc. has made many announcements. Mukesh Ambani-led RIL said it will set up a special task force to prepare plans for the region’s developmental initiatives. Trident Group chairman Rajinder Gupta said he plans to invest 1,000 crore in J&K.

“We’ll provide good healthcare facilities to J&K in the near future. Healthcare is also a big employment provider and, with new hospitals being opened, there will be multiple job opportunities created in the region," Naresh Trehan, chairman, Medanta Group told ANI.

Welcoming the move, Ankur Bisen, an analyst who leads the retail division of Technopak Advisors, said some of these projects have a long gestation period and their execution will depend on factors such as easing of restrictions, normalcy returning to the valley and launch of infrastructure projects. “I feel need-based category consumption was happening in Jammu and Kashmir so far. With the scrapping of Article 370 a set of aspirational categories will emerge. Also, the region has to be divided in Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir. While Jammu is like any other north Indian state, Ladakh is sparsely populated and accessible for limited months in a year. Meanwhile, north Kashmir is more peaceful. Accordingly, brands need to slice and dice their investments," he said.

Apart from big firms, startups have also jumped on the investment bandwagon, extending their support to J&K.

While Policybazaar announced that it will hire 4,000 candidates from the region, health and fitness startup CureFit said it will open fitness centres in the Union territory. Interestingly, while the Union government is all set to host J&K’s first investor summit in October, the 1,500-crore project to build a multi-modal logistics park (dry port) by the Dubai Ports Group was shelved earlier this month. The development reflects the alarming reality of the sensitive nature of the conflict-prone region. The MoU of the project was signed in February 2018.

“These investments need good enabling conditions in terms of infrastructure, connectivity and peace and none of these factors are present in the region currently. These are good intentions but I’m not sure if they will translate into anything real on ground," said former finance minister of Jammu and Kashmir Haseeb Drabu.

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