As the election for the 21-member executive committee of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) would be held on Saturday, one group of contestants, 'United 21' while intensifying their campaign, said they are fighting the elections with an agenda to "unite" Kashmir's business community.
This year, the contestants are divided into two groups – 'United-21' and 'Credible-21' – competing against each other for the 21-member executive committee. Those who get highest number of votes, will form the executive committee of the 1300-member chamber.
Addressing members of the business community at a campaign event held at a Srinagar hotel on Thursday, convener of "United 21", Nasir Hamid Khan said the group is in the fray for forthcoming chamber elections with a focus that " core challenge for the economy is the disunity among the business community which needs to be overcome soon,". "This disunity has further led to the division among the business community. Before any effort is made for the betterment of the economy, it is incumbent for us to unite the Kashmir Inc," Khan said.
Highlighting the fragile situation of Kashmir's business community and efforts needed to overcome the distress, a contestant from "United 21", Sheikh Ashiq Ahmed, while asking for electing the 'United 21' said the key concerns of trade and business will be tackled appropriately by the group. "Getting together of 21 candidates from different sectors, age groups and with varying experiences as a well-balanced group could be the appropriate message of unity to be sent to our business community in these times of distress," Ashiq said, adding apart from veteran industrialists, foray of first and second generation entrepreneurs in the elections is a welcome step.
A young woman entrepreneur Arifa Jan who is known for reviving Namda, the traditional Kashmiri rug, is contesting as the only woman for a seat in the 21-member executive committee of KCCI.
Hotelier and chairman of J&K Hoteliers Club and Kashmir chapter of PHD Chamber, Mushtaq Chaya while addressing the gathering said agenda of any active business chamber in the Valley "instead of doing politics" should be to become an active participant in development of technology and infrastructure so that "we can provide a boost to general trade and tourism in the Valley".