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Industries in Kashmir; then and now

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When we talk about industries in Jammu and Kashmir we need to go back to the era of mid-1970s. It was the first time when Kashmir witnessed the industrial environment. The building and development of industries was a whole new exposure given to Kashmiris but during the 1990s the political unrest that was present in Kashmir at that point of time, created an environment where the industries got caught up really bad in the situation, their condition got miserable, all the investors, whether of Kashmiri origin or of non-Kashmiri origin left their investments, and decided to take a time out from investing in the industrial sector over here and as well from their hard established industries. Some of them had to leave due to certain reasons and the others had to back away from industries, leaving behind the ruins of once well-established business and industries.
Leaving the hard earned and hard settled business to writhe and die in agony…it has been reported by industrial experts time and again that the state government has failed drastically to revive the industrial environment in Jammu and Kashmir. It’s almost like the government gave up on Industrial sector in Kashmir and has never been serious about reviving it. The government does make some efforts but none of them is ever good enough to get our industries revived back to the state of glory they once was.
Ever since the era of 1990s land and infrastructure resources has not been utilised as it should have been. Early on the blame was primarily put upon the government for not having best suited industrial policies for Kashmir. But we all know that is not the sole reason of such low industrial exposure here.
Now, as every Kashmiri is well aware of the turmoil that has been going on for ages over here, it was very hard for the youth of Kashmir to imagine themselves as being entrepreneurs or starting a business amidst all this unrest, although the image has started to change again.
Since past few years even when our youth has started to take interest in developing their ideas into businesses the official figures still state that that till February 2014 there were 368 industries in Kashmir that were sick and in miserable condition owing to reasons known to each and every citizen here.
Due to all this lack of industrial exposure, the unemployment rates have touched the skies over here, how many of youth do we see actually studying and making efforts because they dream of starting a business of their own and develop an industry?
The answer is a few to none, we all have this notion of government jobs, where settled in life means having a government job, working from 9 to 5 and that’s it, and this notion has killed the creativity, uniqueness and the ability to take risks to do something big in life among our youth.
The biggest industrial investment in Kashmir from the government was in terms of HMT (Hindustan Mission Tools), a hugely invested in industry by then prime minister Indira Gandhi, it used to employ 1500 people but unfortunately this unit was shut down, due to various factors at play volunteer retirements were made and this unit went into a deadlock.
Even though the local industrial board tried to convince the government to re-establish this industry, all the efforts were in vain as this unit still remains sick, covering several acres of land the re-establishment of this industry could have helped cope with a huge amount of unemployed youth here in Kashmir. This is not it, there are hundreds of units like this Industry that can provide the bread and butter to hundreds of families if retained, re-established and restarted, but unfortunately everyone seems to have turned the other cheek towards the industrial sector of Kashmir.
Taking this all into consideration, going through the history and coming to the future of industrial sector in Kashmir, there is a hope, there is a chance, there is an opportunity which needs to be taken and well utilised, as our local youth have taken the dream of entrepreneurship and Are investing and working hard to establish this long lost industrial sector and refurbish it in their own colours and in the colours of Kashmir with a modern touch.
Undoubtedly there are obstacles and hindrances that a local entrepreneur continuously comes in contact with but still these young people are putting in all their effort, their sweat, Skill and hard work to make the private industrial sector walk its way through and reach the heights of success. Even though it is said that the government is making efforts to develop a well suited revival policy for these industries and has been working towards it, we still need policies that will ensure the growth and Survival of these industries.
Even when we have many well established industrial areas, such as; Lassipora, Khanmoh, Akhnoor, Gangyal, we still need growth in our industrial areas. Young entrepreneurs cannot do all this by themselves, they cannot re-establish this lost empire by getting financial support from banks and various institutions, government needs to come up with policies that will not only support these young entrepreneurs financially but will also enable these entrepreneurs to get their idea to a table and build from it what has been lost.
The entrepreneurs who had somehow gathered the courage to start up their own ideas and make their own business and turn their ideas into industries have all suffered losses due to the current turmoil that was build up here in Kashmir revolving around the article 370 abrogation and many of the businesses got shut down because of the fact that they couldn’t return the loan money at time. Then the banks coming after them have also let many of our young entrepreneurs down.
The government needs to see into the matters and lead the entrepreneurs to a more bright and secure future from now onwards.