As fear grew in Kashmir after 13 civilians were killed in October, life slowed down, especially work on infrastructure projects. Affected by the recent deaths of civilians and migrant workers, however, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has signed an agreement with the Dubai government for the development of various projects across the region.
The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry of Kashmir, Piyush Goyal said in a recent statement that by signing the MoU with the Government of Dubai, Jammu and Kashmir has demonstrated the speed with which it is moving on the development path. .
“This MoU sends a strong signal to the entire world that J&K has an important role to play in the way India is transforming into a global power,” Goyal said in a written statement.
According to the administration of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dubai will create infrastructure in the conflict-hit region of Kashmir which will include industrial parks, IT towers, multipurpose buildings, logistics centres, a medical college and a specialist hospital.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, President and CEO of DP World, Dubai, has said, “We are dedicated to bridging the gap between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India. We know how to do it and overcome the challenges ”
Although details of the agreement were not disclosed, Sulayem has said that his company’s investment will be part of the Modi government’s Made in India campaign.
This will be the first investment arrangement with the UAE, especially after the Indian government unilaterally revoked Kashmir’s quasi-special status in August 2019.
The timing of the investment and the MoU has surprised many in Kashmir. Hoteliers Club general secretary Tariq Rashid Ghani sees the signing of an agreement between the two governments as a positive development.
“This will not only uplift the infrastructure, but it will boost the flow of international tourism to the region,” Ghani told VOA.
According to data released by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy – an independent think tank and business information company – the unemployment rate in Jammu and Kashmir has jumped from more than 13 per cent in August to 21.6 per cent in September.
Amid the backdrop of high unemployment rate, Ghani stressed the need to involve local people in these development projects to increase employment opportunities for local youth.
According to the Jammu and Kashmir Finance Department, 9,514 physical projects were completed in 2020-21 at a cost of around $520 million.
Mehraj Gulzar, former president of the Association of Information and Communications Technology, said, “I see this as more of a political statement than an economic one. The local economy is shattered, and building infrastructure without an ecosystem is of no use to local entrepreneurs.” It will be interesting to see how much it can help in improving our economy.
“As far as the conflict is concerned,” Gulzar said, “I think the UAE has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indian government for investment in Kashmir, which legitimizes the Indian stand on Kashmir. , which is a major victory for India and points to the opinion of the international community, as well as the Islamic world, towards the Kashmir conflict.”
11 years later, GoFirst, a low-cost Indian air carrier, became the first to resume direct flights between Srinagar and Sharjah. India’s Union Home Minister Amit Shah celebrated the first Srinagar-Sharjah international flight on 23 October in the presence of Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. Air India Express started a once-weekly service from Srinagar to Dubai in February 2009, but was discontinued due to low demand.
Irfan Mushtaq, a local entrepreneur who has ventured into infrastructure development, told VOA that two parallel things have emerged recently: direct flights to the UAE and the agreement between Dubai and Kashmir.
“This will provide some impetus to the local economy along with job creation. However, sustaining such initiatives is a major challenge in Kashmir,” Mushtaq said.
Kashmir’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries President Latif A Bhat told VOA that this part of the world has been troubled for a long time and such MoUs may be based on politics rather than real growth opportunities. He added that genuine investors usually avoid turbulent sectors as it is very difficult to make profit. The most important industry for the region may be the development of medical tourism by local investors.
“Our experience is that due to the cut-off zone, the general industries in the valley have mostly become ill and electricity is not available to run such industries. Natural beauty is available in abundance, which has to be preserved and protected keeping in view the ecology. needs to be developed. Tourism may be the only industry providing employment and energy to the economy, which has suffered during the turmoil.”
India is looking for greater trade ties to help restore its economy, especially after a deadly second wave of the virus earlier this year. Before the outbreak, the country was the United Arab Emirates’ second largest commercial partner with nearly $40 billion in non-oil commerce.
On a recent visit to New Delhi for meetings with Indian Commerce Minister Goyal, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al Zayoudi said that the two governments are negotiating an economic partnership aimed at stimulating commerce, investment and jobs. are ready to start.
According to the UAE, bilateral trade could reach $100 billion in five years after the signing of the treaty, and Goyal indicated that this figure could be reached.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, did not respond to an email from VoA requesting comment.
Last week, the India-UAE-Israel Economic Summit was organized jointly by India and Israel to discuss possibilities of cooperation on trilateral initiatives. The summit, which was attended by over 250 attendees from those three countries, including leading business executives, government officials and experts, examined strategies for maximizing trilateral trade and investment opportunities.
According to Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai, the event provided significant impetus for cooperation in both public and private sectors for the three countries.
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