World

Youth join mainstream as India unveils development initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir

March 31, 2021
The initiatives that are being taken by the Indian government to boost sports in the Union Territory include recently organized programs like the second edition of the Khelo India winter games at Gulmarg in north Kashmir which ended this month. — Courtesy file photo
The initiatives that are being taken by the Indian government to boost sports in the Union Territory include recently organized programs like the second edition of the Khelo India winter games at Gulmarg in north Kashmir which ended this month. — Courtesy file photo



NEW DELHI — India’s federal government has unveiled a number of initiatives and programs in Jammu and Kashmir as part of its developmental push for the region in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370.

Youth from the region have responded positively to these development initiatives and have shown their desire to become a part of the progress and prosperity of New India. Even the local militants who gave up arms after Aug. 5, 2019, have been rehabilitated and have become a part of the national mainstream.

Most of the local leaders of Kashmir who used to claim that “if J&K’s special status is revoked no one will be left in Kashmir to hold the tricolor” have been proven wrong as one can visit Gulmarg and witness how much Kashmiri youth have draped themselves in tricolor and are holding it close to their heart.

The initiatives that are being taken by the Indian government to boost sports in the Union Territory include recently organized programs like the second edition of the Khelo India winter games at Gulmarg in north Kashmir which ended this month.

Recently, PM Modi in his inaugural virtual address pointed out that holding such an event is a step toward making India’s presence felt in the international winter games arena and also make Jammu and Kashmir a hub of winter sports.

The Indian prime minister stressed that these games in Gulmarg show that Jammu and Kashmir is eager to reach new heights of peace and development and these games will strengthen the resolve for “Ek Bharat, Shreshth Bharat” (One India, best India) objective. The government of India’s determination to build optimum sports infrastructure in the UT reflects in the development of two Khelo India Centres of excellence in Jammu and Srinagar and other Khelo India Centers in 20 districts, which will facilitate young players.

The central government’s special scholarship scheme for Jammu and Kashmir students has helped many youth from poor family backgrounds to get admissions in professional colleges across the country. In fact, many of them have completed their degrees and have even taken up jobs in big corporate houses within the country and abroad. The Indian government has remained firm in its decisions to ensure that the region is pulled from the quagmire of uncertainty.

With a view to boost tourism in Jammu and Kashmir and to bring the Union Territory back again on India’s tourism map, a number of initiatives have been taken recently by the government of India and the government of the Union Territory. One such initiative is opening up Asia's largest Tulip garden for the public since March 25, 2021, marking the beginning of the new tourism season in the region. The majestic tulip garden, previously known as Siraj Bagh, is located on the foothills of the snow-clad Zabarwan Mountains Overlooking the famous Dal Lake, and houses over 15 lakh tulip flowers of more than 64 varieties, and those will bloom in the garden to make it a tourist’s paradise during the scenic Tulip festival. Besides, tourists will also experience the warm hospitality of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In addition to the tulip garden, the government has also reopened (from March 21) the historic Badamwari garden in Srinagar that is currently witnessing an almond bloom also known as "Badam Waer".

In addition to focusing on various sectors concerning the development of tourism activity in Jammu and Kashmir, the effort is also being made by the authorities on the renovation and redesigning of key religious sites besides renovating vital markets. Under the “Smart City” project, 20 religious sites in Srinagar are set to get a facelift to attract a footfall of tourists into the city.

Besides renovation of religious sites which would be completed by the end of July 2021, vital markets in the downtown area of summer capital Srinagar would be redesigned while inducting modern technology into it apart from the uplifting overall infrastructural standard of the city.

Religious sites which are being renovated include Dargah Hazratbal shrine, Makhdoom Sahib shrine, Imam Bada Pandrethan, Syed Haider Sistaini Hyderpora, Ganesh Mandir Barbar Shah Srinagar, Razak Sahib Narwara, Jenab Sahib Soura, Ded Mouj Jinab Sahib Soura Anchar, Mirza Shah Sahib Hasanbad, Khankha Moa’la, Shankar Aschariya Temple, Naqsband Sahib Nowhatta, Chatti Padshahi Rainawari, Syed Mian Shah Nowpora, Saint Luke Church Dalgate, Raghunath Mandir Fateh Kadal and Gurudwara at HMT highway.

Among other developments, the first night flight has started operating from Srinagar Airport on March 18, 2021, marking the dawn of a new era indicating improvement in air connectivity to Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country. This significant development will boost the tourism sector of Jammu and Kashmir as it will increase the tourist footfall in the region and this will substantially help in the economic growth of the UT as the tourism sector forms the core of the economy here.

Jammu and Kashmir government is also geared up for a successful spring tourist season this year. With a view to boosting adventure tourism in this part of India, a proposal is also under consideration by the government of India to open a portion of Siachen Glacier, the world's highest battlefield, for adventure tourism.

It is, in this context, very much relevant to point out that the decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and completely merge it into the Union of India, has already started paying dividends in terms of economic growth and development of Kashmir valley.

The biggest change that Kashmir witnessed was the number of youth becoming a part of stone pelting mobs declined manifold as new avenues being open up for Kashmiri youth at a faster rate.

The government departments were asked to ensure that the benefits of the centrally sponsored schemes trickle down to youth so that they are enabled to choose a progressive path in life. In addition to the great scope being offered by the high potential tourism industry in the region, many Kashmiri youth have been imparted training under the “Himmayat” scheme and have been benefitted in terms of getting jobs in companies across the country.

During the past one and half year hundreds of youth have been placed and they are living decent lives. Recruiting agencies that had almost become defunct in Jammu and Kashmir advertised posts for the unemployed educated youth and the process to employ them was expedited. Many of them have been absorbed by different units in the country. The boom in sports activities allowed youth to come forward and showcase their abilities and skills. Youth-oriented initiatives taken by central government has infused new life and enthusiasm in Kashmiri youth, who during the past three decades were being misguided by evil forces to take up arms in a proxy war against a welfare state. — Agencies


March 31, 2021
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