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Nature’s bowl rolls out red carpet

The G-20 meet may herald a new era for Jammu and Kashmir and bolster its engagement with the international community.

Manoj Sinha

Third G-20 tourism working group meeting being held in Srinagar over next two days will be a defining moment for Jammu and Kashmir. The multilateral G-20 meet will provide an occasion to host and engage with the international community and offer a window to the world to see this nature’s bowl and a land of opportunities through visiting G20 delegates’ experiences when they return to their respective countries. The mist around Jammu & Kashmir formed due to unrelenting peddling of misinformation will also settle down eventually.


The G-20 meet will lend fresh energy and enthusiasm to work towards a new Jammu & Kashmir that is ancient in its wisdom, modern in growth, and rich in its diversities.

Transcending history of Jammu & Kashmir demonstrates the unimaginable outcomes that visionary and committed leadership in conjunction with mass effort can deliver. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to select the Union Territory as venue for the crucial global meet ignoring opposition from some international quarters reflects a confidence change. Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, as far as I remember never hosted any multilateral meet of this sort in recent past.

India, under leadership of Prime Minister Modi, has shown it’s willing to take a tough stand against interference by any foreign nation or nations in its domestic affairs. We want peace but not at the cost of our unity and integrity. I would not like to drag here futile attempts to manufacture a diplomatic row by a few. Still, the move to disrupt G-20 meeting does not surprise us. Acceptance of Srinagar as venue for meeting by G-20 countries – representing twenty of the biggest economies which together carry 75 per cent global trade, hold 80 per cent global GDP and represent 60 per cent of global population is a setback to adversaries.

Jammu & Kashmir people are looking for development and their share in socio-economic transformation in the slowly enveloping Union Territory. Change in Jammu & Kashmir is irreversible. This is not only because we in the administration are committed to confronting untouched challenges and don’t shy away from out-of-the-box solutions for people’s welfare but also because the people have smelt aroma of functional democracy. They dread the mere thought of the past striking back. And that’s defining and motivating for us.

Terrorists from across the border have lost local support. Strengthening of grassroots democracy through successful panchayat and urban local bodies elections and responsive delivery mechanism have nurtured hope for a sustained relationship between the people and the administration, which I think, is the harbinger of a new social order.

Jammu & Kashmir now wears the crown of Incredible India. Tourism drives the economy that aggregates associated industries such as hospitality and brings jobs. It trickles into people’s earnings and improves their standards of living. Declaration of tourism in Jammu & Kashmir as an industry along with accompanying factors is attracting massive investment. After a long pause of almost four decades, we have revived relationship with Bollywood and launched a film policy in 2021 to attract more investment and to make union territory the most popular film shooting destination. Last year alone, more than 300 movies were filmed in the region which is a sign of peace and prosperity.

Tourism contributed seven per cent to the region’s Gross Domestic Product last fiscal. About 18.8 million tourists visited Jammu & Kashmir last year and much of it is due to improved law and order situation and people-friendly policies. We partner with, rather than dictate to, people in tourism sector through our policy initiatives such as homestays and 300 new destinations to ensure that visitors go beyond age-old venues to explore the unexplored Elysian beauty that Jammu & Kashmir offers. In the process, more local communities get enriched and empowered.

Prime Minister has reshaped the policy that enables all sections of society to actively participate in Jammu & Kashmir’s growth and gains are more equitably distributed to bring qualitative change in the life of people. The youth no longer finds destructive rhetoric attractive. Young men and women with big dreams are now more ambitious, more aware and working hard to realise their aspirations. Transparent and accountable governance has brought transformational change in the speed and scale of project execution. Our speed to complete the project has gone up by ten times. In 2018, 9229 projects were completed whereas 92,560 projects were completed in financial year 2022-23. In last four years, we have registered 770,000 new entrepreneurs through self-employment schemes which mean that around 527 young people started their entrepreneurial journey per day. These figures are impressive but they do not fully capture the quiet transformation that is taking place at the level of women-led enterprises in the villages. More than 600,000 women entrepreneurs, through self-help groups are reaching global scale in quality and output.

Recruitment in government jobs is happening only on merit and through transparent ways to get rid of the culture of backdoor appointments that were the norm during previous regimes. Since 2019, more than 28,467 appointments have been made. Further, out of 12,000 vacancies identified in 2023, 6,000 are under process for referral. In a very short span of time, we are advancing towards building a digital society. We are offering more than 450 public services online.

G-20 is a tribute to the people’s willingness to come out of the trap of violence engineered by an immediate neighbour. The G-20 meeting is also a symbol of resurgent India.

(Author is Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Views expressed are personal. This write up was first published in Hindustan Times)

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