Having turned tourism in the region into an industry which is active around-the-year now, the benefits from this reform stands to help millions who depend on this sector for livelihood. The transformation of the state into a Union Territory has opened tremendous avenues of opportunities for the region to prosper and develop … writes Dr Sakariya Kareem
The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir rung in the new year with musical festivals and carnivals for the people in the region, amidst a fresh batch of snowfall. The year saw the heaviest influx of nearly 26 lakh tourists in the region- the highest in the history of the Territory- pouring in to celebrate the new year in the snow clad mountains.
Having turned tourism in the region into an industry which is active around-the-year now, the benefits from this reform stands to help millions who depend on this sector for livelihood. The transformation of the state into a Union Territory has opened tremendous avenues of opportunities for the region to prosper and develop. In the recent past, there has been an unprecedented flow of economic resources into the region, as the government’s dream to develop the area to its full potential comes to fruition with conscious, concrete efforts.
By mid-December of 2022, the UT had received investment proposals worth a whopping Rs. 64,000 crores; out of which Rs. 2,500 crores had already been received by the J&K government. To top it further, the J&K administration is expected to receive inbound investments crossing the collective mark of Rs. 75,000 crores by the end of this year.
The schemes which the central government is releasing particularly for the common man in the region have successfully been reaching the target population. With mechanisms in place to not only launch initiatives, but also create awareness amongst the people who can benefit from the opportunities being created for them, the region has seen the organization of numerous camps to ensure that the benefits are being discharged accurately to the concerned population.
The region’s primary source of employment being agriculture with nearly two-thirds of the region’s population being involved in the sector, the J&K administration proposed a new agricultural policy in 2022 to tackle the problems that have been brewing for years. The policy aims to double the agrarian yield to Rs. 65,701 in a few years, from the current figure of Rs. 37,559. The policy is crafted in a way to provide nearly 2,88,000 new jobs by way of creating 18,861 additional enterprises, while catering to the livelihoods of 13,00,000 agrarian families.
Moreover, the youth in the region, which previously depended on the hopes of securing government jobs, has also found a lucrative avenue of employment in agriculture. The administration has taken significant steps to introduce new initiatives such agro-processing, artificial intelligence, digital agriculture, agricultural mechanization, to make this sector attractive and sustainable for the youth population; the introduction of these technologies has helped organize the sector to a great extent.
With the focus on creating employment and improving the employability of people, the unemployment rate in the region has commendably declined from 6.7% in 2019-2020 to 5.9% in 2020-2021, as reported by the annual PLFS6. Various government schemes, such as the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY) have been launched to incentivize employers to create more employment; Jammu and Kashmir has seen the benefit of Rs. 35.39 crores for 19,340 recipients under this scheme alone.
Others schemes like Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) and Deen Dayal Antodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) etc. for employment generation have been implemented in the region with considerable success.
Over the last year, entrepreneurship (within and beyond the sector of agriculture) has seen a massive rise in popularity within the region as a lucrative means of employment. Government plans for small business enterprises, such as the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) has extended collateral-free loans upto Rs. 10 lakhs for the expansion of people’s businesses, a scheme which has benefited the people of J&K for a total amount of Rs. 4,209 crores.
Beyond agriculture, J&K has seen a drastic rise in youth entrepreneurs in recent years, and the administration has placed its full weight to support these enterprising individuals. Programmes under Mission Youth, such as Mumkin, SAHAYTA, Tejaswani, have been launched to provide financial support to promote entrepreneurship; projects like Spurring Entrepreneurship Initiative work to inspire the youth to innovate and start new businesses, particularly women.
The most admirable change this past year has brought in the region is that of a year of relative peace and a smooth sailing society under improved administrative control. The education sector saw a welcome change in that schools remained open for 200 days in the academic year, owing to a decrease in civil unrest and the usual “hartal” culture of the area.
According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), the enrolment of students between ages 6 to 14 in schools has also increased by 1.2% since 2018, while the dropout rate has decreased.
The Kashmir Police Chief Additional Director General, Vijay Kumar made the statement, “No hartal, no street violence, no stone pelting incident especially at the encounter sites, no internet shutdown, no funeral procession of killed terrorists, no glamorisation of terrorists, have benefited all the sections of society.”
The infrastructural development of the city has geared up to match the existing aesthetic beauty of nature in the region. Smart city projects being applied in Jammu and Srinagar means substantial work has been undertaken to implement changes to improve the quality of life of the territory’s people. Projects include those of constructing flyovers, highways as well as better connectivity by means of railways.
With the larger responsibility of development falling within the domain of the J&K government, an astounding 50,627 development projects were completed in the fiscal year 2021-22; while 29 projects out of a total of 53 have been completed or reaching completion.
The region also had the inception of two medical institutions established like the AIIMS, as well as a number of healthcare centres throughout the districts and sub-districts. This year gone by also saw the achievement of an Indian Institute of Management and an Indian Institute of Technology being established and turned functional in Jammu.
The Territory has been on the rise since the doors were thrown open for unhindered opportunities to come in. 2022 was the first year since the pandemic that the region could have been expected to truly see the effect of the reforms and reorganization made within the erstwhile state. Now that the implementation of the present administration’s targeted aims is in full swing, the region has started to blossom into its full potential, more of which we hope to see in the time to come.