Rahul invites biz leaders to interact with Kashmir students

Kashmir Times. Dated: 10/3/2012 12:31:23 AM

NEW DELHI, Oct 1(Agencies): Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi has invited the country’s top industrialists to a panel discussion and interaction with students in Kashmir, seeking to dispel corporate concerns about investing in the Himalayan state troubled by a long-running insurgency, a person familiar with the development said.
Among those invited to the October 5 event at the University of Kashmir in Srinagar are Tata group chairman Ratan Tata, Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, Housing Development Finance Corp. Ltd chairman Deepak Parekh, Bajaj Auto Ltd managing director Rajiv Bajaj and Wipro Ltd chairman Azim Premji.
The invitees have confirmed they would attend the programme, which will be the highlight of Gandhi’s two-day tour of Jammu and Kashmir, said the person cited above.
During his last visit to the state in September 2011, Gandhi interacted with students of the university who complained to him about the lack of job opportunities and the absence of top businesses in the state, which is the subject of a dispute with Pakistan and the cause of three of the four wars fought by India and Pakistan since 1947.
Gandhi had then promised the students that he would bring a delegation of business leaders to the valley to give the students a chance to convince them about business opportunities in Kashmir.
“The idea is to provide the students of Jammu and Kashmir with an opportunity to engage in a conversation with corporate leaders, and for students to share their aspiration for jobs and stable lives as well as to learn from the business leaders about their challenges for doing business in the state,” said an associate of Gandhi.
“The objective is also to create a greater understanding among the students about the economic opportunity that exists in the country from the industry leaders, which might begin to bridge the disconnect that currently exists,” the associate said on condition of anonymity.
After Gandhi’s last visit, the human resource development ministry has drawn up a slew of initiatives for the state.
In July, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh visited the campus to brief students about the scope of schemes such as Himayat—a placement linked skill development initiative for Kashmiri youth—and Udaan, a skill training and placement project; a five-member parliamentary delegation visited the university in September.
“Hundreds of our students have received training and placement under the Udaan and Himayat programmes of the central government,” said Showkat Shafi, a spokesperson for the University of Kashmir. “We believe the youth in Kashmir are same like anybody in the rest of India. They have aspirations and deserve a better life.”
The home ministry has asked several public sector units and private companies to help in the training of Kashmiri youth under the Udaan programme. Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), Wipro, Yes Bank Ltd and Future Group are some of the partners in this programme.
TCS and Infosys Ltd have already started programmes to train students from Kashmir, kicking off the Centre’s Rs.1,000 crore employment package for Jammu and Kashmir, under which as many as 40,000 unemployed young people of Jammu and Kashmir are to be trained for a year by corporate entities outside the state.
Mint had reported on December 6 that following a meeting between academicians and students of Kashmir with the government authorities in Delhi, the central government had released Rs.42 crore for the University of Kashmir and will give an additional Rs.43 crore shortly.
Altaf Ahmad, deputy registrar of the university, said the second instalment hadn’t been released yet. The first tranche of money is being used to expand the university.



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