How to plan for livelihood and employment in J&K

How to plan for livelihood and employment in J&K

J&K is under stress for providing livelihood to growing number of educated youth, literate and semi literate people including women. There are about four lakh government employees in a state having a population of 1.25 crore, which provide some of the services the state has undertaken on itself, it has resulted in inefficiency and huge burden on state in the form of salaries and pensions, leaving very less funds for investment in infrastructure, social services, education and health sectors. The state exports goods for about Rs 12,000 crore and imports goods and services in to the state for about Rs 65,000 crore annually. The flight of capital from the state is one of the major reasons for increased unemployment and poverty in the state. This has upset the advantages the state had in the form of uniform land holdings due to land reforms, absence of private money lenders, and a robust cooperative system which existed till 80s the state has emerged as consuming state, the economy does not seem to pick up in spite of the fact that there is lot of potential in the form of fertile land, good climate, availability of English speaking young energetic and intelligent human resource.

There is no document in public domain which will indicate that the state is working on any livelihood generation plan in existing economic activities, or developing new areas of livelihood for its population, an analytical view of the resources and demand  indicates that it is possible to add up additional 2 lakh new livelihoods from woollen and textile sector, 1.50 lakh  from  IT and IT enabled services , 2 lakh from horticulture including walnut and almonds, I lakh livelihoods from Sports goods industry including cyclic cultivation of willow for cricket bats and other 2.5 lakh livelihoods from manufacturing activities in  areas of import substitution, cultivation of roses, scent plants, medicinal and aromatic plants. The advantage that outside business houses cannot purchase land here has not been converted in to opportunity for industrialisation of the state, capital subsidy, tax benefits to industry in the form of sales tax exemption by the state till last year, now GST remission, interest subsidy, income tax exemption together contributed to about 20% exemption in taxes has also not helped to produce the goods even for our local consumption not to think of exports to other states. In the liberalised regime technology and machinery is freely available the state is still made to believe that we are not suitable for big industries on account of being away from railway head etc ,which is bogus and misleading .

 The reason of our industrial backwardness is that we are the 2nd  generation literate  and some of our boys and girls are now venturing in to small and tiny enterprises for livelihood, they have no knowledge of business and investment, they have to identify the  business activities themselves , they go to govt departments for registration , processing of loan cases etc  all this is a horrible experience through which these youngsters have to go, in due course of time they become tired , disinterested and give up . We need to know that business idea is short-lived it has small shelf life if it does not materialise in a given time the potential entrepreneur gives it up.

J&K Industries and Commerce department  has mandate to  developing heavy and small scale industries  and promote commerce in the state and the deptts like Industries, Handloom , Handicrafts and corporations associated with these institutions like SIDCO, SICOP have failed to deliver and industrialise the state. Industries department has restricted itself to registration of SSI units and provide some incentives to these units and formulate Industrial policy of the state after every few years. There is lack of vision in the department, they do not make any effort to educate and identify entrepreneurs, and the deptt works without targets as to how many industries in what activity we should set up in the three regions of the state in next five years and in what services we should promote. As such a new look in the functioning of this deptt, and corporations associated with it has to be made .They should visit sales/GST deptt and prepare a list of goods being imported and prepare a trade manual quarterly on the pattern of Director General Foreign trade and identify the items we can manufacture in the state on our own or  in collaborations with others, .  we are importing  goods which we can be manufacture here at a cheaper price, goods like tweeds , Towels , socks, handkerchiefs , ball pens, note books, plastic shoes etc for which there is demand here can be manufactured  by using same technology and machinery,  we can manufacture them cheaper here, as we have some tax incentives, than companies selling them here.  We need not have big factories, we must copy Japanese manufacturing, where small components are supplied by ancillary vendors, and they have assembly line, quality standards and brand, back home we have similar experience in shawl and other handicrafts manufacture, wool is produced by someone, others spin it, different person weaves it, and yet other washes and does embroidery work on it.

We have missed the IT revolution of 1990-2015, only a few IT units whose collective  sales in  IT, IT enabled services is not more than Rs 20, crores in a year are  here while cities like Bangalore , Delhi  and some small cities contribute to more the Rs .25000 crores per year in IT earnings.  IT deptt, is contented with implementing some govt, projects and does nothing in developing IT and IT enabled services in the state. It is time to fix a target for them that they should in collaboration with NASCOM , identify  the areas of activity where work is available both within the country and outside which can be done  here as we have cheaper manpower, of course our engineers need training in cutting edge skills which IT deptt  in collaboration with such training providers can arrange, all this can be done without state having to pay anything from exchequer but needs proper planning in the deptt and fixing of  targets as to how many IT units in private sector should be in place in a year, by identifying entrepreneurs,  tie ups and trainings on job and visits to such units.

There are only few hundred private limited companies and less than ten public limited companies listed from the state it has reduced our growing potential as small on man business activities have more chances of winding up and closing  than private or public limited companies who  can generate more finance, skills etc, there are about 3.00 lac small one man business activities in the form of retail stores selling day to day needed goods , about 90% of them have a turnover of less than Rs one crore/ year,  Some of them buying similar goods  can come together and pool their requirement  and bargain for better price and terms from the manufacturers, other business activity in the state is contractors executing govt infrastructure projects, there are about 7000 contractors in the state, a close look  indicates that 90 % of them are executing  small works up to  in Rs 100 lacs . very few of them have managerial skills, eligibility , resources , skilled manpower and machinery to compete in the bidding process of  big electrical roads and infrastructure projects, some of them working for similar projects can merge together, this will help them to pool resources and participate in bidding for bigger projects, there are about 35000 small industrial units  manufacturing some of the things like steel fabrication,  furniture for schools, house hold furniture etc with very small production, they should upgrade to private limited or public limited companies and enter in joint ventures , technology up gradation and diversification for producing  goods and services needed in the state. We have done very good in cement production, the state which depended on import of cement from Rajasrhan and other states is almost self sufficient in cement production. We need to analyse into the reasons as to why we have failed, in spite of the fact that loans are readily available from banks, and there is good demand in liberalised world trade regime for high quality goods and services in India and world over. We need to look in words to find answers to these issues; otherwise our future is very bleak, if we are not in a position to provide employment and livelihoods to our growing number of educated, semi skilled, and un-skilled youth entire society can fall in turmoil.    

Developing economy  and industry is a professional job for which IAS or KAS is  not the requirement who are generalists, having few months to a year on a decision making position  at one place they stick to the status quo, minimum that the state can do is to bring professionals both from within and outside  the country for some time ask them to   prepare plans for different activities and then implement them under their supervision, this will work out cheaper and will be effective than the babu culture we have at present.

The author is national resource person on livelihood, empanelled with NIRD & PR, Hyderabad