In an attempt to draw business leaders, investors, industry captains, agriculturalists and economists from all over India, a two day Davos type economic conclave will be held at skiing resort Gulmarg on 27 February 2019. It would be one of the most prominent events of the year. Like World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meets, first of its kind, the two day conclave at Gulmarg would engage experienced and promising business leaders, investors, etc to exchange business ideas and share views in order to boost business environment of the state. Through successive efforts over the years, the Ski resort may soon become a hub for the exchange of business ideas and Davos Dream may soon become real.
Over 150 economists, business leaders and trade heads from all over India with head-full of knowledge and experience would participate in Kashmir Economic Conclave, 2019. The conclave would throw light on 12 segments on issues related to tourism, handicrafts, environment protection and solid waste management, job market and others. There would be panel of discussion and workshops to high-light potential economy of the state judiciously. The event would be organized by the founding editor of Ziraat Times, and a development economist, Arjumand Talib.
The Davos Dream of Kashmir Economic Conclave was propagated by the former state finance minister, Dr. Haseeb Drabu. His aim was to provide a platform for local businesses which in lieu will create employment opportunities. In a hopeful forecast, Kashmir Economic Conclave is aimed at to exploit potential economy of J&K in a meaningful way. Ex-finance minister in Mufti’s regime recommended promoting Gulmarg as Davos of India where country’s top business and policymakers can hold annual summits to frame new strategies in economic development.
J&K troubling economy have faced number of hurdles in recent times. The greatest hurdle is posed by prevailing political upheaval, which does not suit foreign investment and also retard local business growth. During 2014 floods, the economy of J&K incurred losses worth thousands of corers, with heavy damages to trade, hotels, restaurants, horticulture and handicraft. The highest losses incurred to tourism sector which directly or indirectly affected allied sectors. The confidence of small as well as medium and large scale business units was shattered. Unfortunately, J&K have not yet come out of economic losses brought by 2014 floods when centre came with haunting instrument of demonetization and later on imposition of GST. All these instruments together contributed to economic crisis of the state. There is no substantial progress in state economy since 2014 floods. J&K has shown zero progress in ease of doing a business in 2018. In addition, the negative business propaganda propagated by some national news channels to earn TRPs has badly impacted tourism and its allied sectors of J&K state.
In the Ease of Doing Business State Ranking, jointly prepared by the World Bank and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Government of India, Jammu and Kashmir has been ranked low at 22nd position among 34 States and Union Territories in the country. Surge in militancy is another hurdle in establishing a business here. Frequent internet shutdowns and poor road connectivity make it impossible to extend business. The greatest hurdle in doing a business here is ‘lack of a business temperament.’
Though it would be wrong to compare Gulmarg meet with Davos, but there is a dire need of exploring potential resources of J&K which would be possible once there would be exchange of ideas. These are not castles in the air; such types of meets will boost J&K economy and may create business and employment opportunities. Like J&K Bank, others premier institute of J&K would extend their business and provide platform to unemployed youth to harness talent. The success of Kashmir Economic Conclave would help in curbing unemployment rate of state. No one can deny it; the J&K Bank has huge contribution not only in strengthening the financial and economic institutions, but also in the development of entrepreneurship in the State.
As the prestige of conference will grow, it would attract more and more experts, businessmen and policy makers may be global investors. The attendees would keep in view both potential resources of state and unemployment rate, where equal attention would be laid on both.
(Opinions expressed are author’s, not of the institution he works for)