Dr Singh’s redundant prescription for Kashmir
Rx Rangarajan I, Rangarajan II, Rangarajan III
Srinagar, Aug 12: From free rice in 1953 to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s present Rs 30000 cr economic package, New Delhi has constantly been mistaking wood for the tree in Kashmir. Going by the new and unorthodox expression received by the Kashmir problem, courtesy new breed of articulate voices from here and a somewhat more understanding response from elsewhere, it was hoped a fresh start was on the anvil. While Dr Singh’s televised speech granted certain mercies like avoiding the “sponsorship” of current protests, two concrete points were made by him. One was the reference to upcoming Panchayat elections and the other about unemployment problem. About Panchayat elections in present painful context less said the better.
To tackle the unemployment problem in Jammu and Kashmir, which the Government of India feels is one of the reasons for the prevailing unrest, Dr Singh, in his address to the all party delegation from JK announced setting up of an Expert Group to formulate a job plan for the state.
To be headed by former RBI governor Dr C Rangarajan who is presently the chairman of the prime minister’s Economic Advisory Council, the members of the expert group include, NR Narayanmurthy - Infosys founder, Tarun Das - former director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), P Nanda Kumar – of the Wipro Infotech and Shaqeel Qalander – president Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK). Qalander, by the way, has expressed surprise over his name figuring in the panel, as according to him he was never consulted nor his consent was sought for inclusion in the expert group. The group has to recommend measures for increasing employability in the State – in both public and private sector - and has to submit its report within three months.
Pertinently, the state government had on December 5, 2009 launched, with much fanfare, an employment policy called Sher-e-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Policy for the Youth (SKEWPY), which is yet to have any impact on the ground.
How the latest initiative on employment generation in Jammu and Kashmir by the Prime Minister is going to work or not work, only time will tell, but it is a fact that the recommendations made earlier by two panels on economic development of Jammu and Kashmir are gathering dust somewhere in the power echelons of Delhi. Paradoxically, both these panels were also headed by C Rangarajan.
Going back, Prime Minister Dr Singh had on March 29, 2005 constituted the Task Force on Development of Jammu and Kashmir, headed by C Rangarajan. The members of the Task Force included; Dr Haseeb Drabu – economist, Sunil Mittal – Bharti Telecom chief, Sunil Kant Munjal – MD Hero Cycles Ltd, Moosa Raza – a former chief secretary o the state, SHH Rehman – former home commissioner JK, Analjit Singh – founder chairman Max India Ltd, Dr GC Srivastava – a former IAS officer, TN Thakur – expert in power reforms, Dr D Subbarao – former RBI governor and Sanjay Mitra - then Joint Secretary in Prime Minister’s Office.
The Task Force held eight meetings between April 2005 and October 2006 and submitted its 61-page report to the Prime Minister in November 2006.
Some of the key recommendations of the Task Force included; transfer of 390 MW Dulhasti Hydel Power Project from NHPC to J&K, transfer of 1020 MW Bursar Storage Scheme from NHPC to J&K for execution in the state sector, tying up long-term capacities in IPP projects in power sector, particularly based on coal and gas and providing intense road and telecom connectivity in JK.
No follow-up action was taken on the recommendations of the Task Force especially relating to transfer of Dulhasti power project to the state.
Among the five Working Groups on Jammu and Kashmir constituted by the Prime Minister Dr Singh in May 2006, the third Working Group on ‘Economic Development of the State” was again headed by C Rangarajan.
The Rangarajan-headed Working Group while reiterating the implementation of the recommendations made by the Prime Minister’s Task Force regarding transfer of Dulhasti and Bursar power projects from NHPC to the state, also called for increasing the state’s power share in the central projects. The Group also called for prioritizing the four-laning of Srinagar-Jammu highway and early completion of the Qazigund-Katra rail project.
The Group had also called for vacating the properties in possession of the security forces and the army, especially those relating to industrial activities.
Pertinently, in its recommendations regarding ‘Employment and Education’ the Working Group while calling for upgrading the existing vocational and technical training institutions suggested inviting private sector to open high-end IT training institutions in the state.
While the fate of the recommendations regarding transfer of power projects by NHPC to the state is known to everybody, how the proposed plan of the Reliance Industries to establish the prestigious Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DAIICT) in the outskirts of Srinagar was sabotaged by the state government in 2006 is perhaps known to everybody.
In a scenario laden with inertia, it is to be seen what would be the fate of the latest initiative on formulating a job plan for Jammu and Kashmir.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 12 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 12 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 13 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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