Srinagar: If Congress
leader Rahul Gandhi was hoping to strike the right chord with
students in Kashmir, his effort seemed to have been fully rewarded
at the interaction they had with him and the high-powered business
leaders delegation accompanying him here Friday.
Students of Kashmir University, at the varsity's overflowing
auditorium, interacted frankly and freely with the top bosses of
India's leading businesses and industries as Gandhi told them he
was here to forge a long-term and sustained relationship with
Kashmir, especially its youths.
"I am here to bridge the gap between corporate India and the
Kashmiri youths as I look forward to a long-term partnership and
interaction with you," he told the participants.
The top corporate bosses promised internships, campus placements
and the setting up of a centre for innovation to generate jobs for
Shabina Siddiqui, from the university's department of education,
asked Ratan Tata: "The students of Jammu and Kashmir are very
talented, but why don't they get to work with big international
firms and be a part of them?"
The Tata Group chairman assured her that local students would be
"We always look for people with merit. Tata Group of companies
will get into contact with the University of Kashmir to launch an
internship programme so that the local students can work side by
side for permanent employment. It is a commitment given by me," he
Responding to Abdul Waheed, a student from the south campus of the
University who pointed out the lack of a technical centre for
students of Kashmir to do their IT internships, HDFC chairman
Deepak Parekh promised a centre for innovation so that the local
students benefit from it.
Asked by Omar Ifftekhar, a student of the university's business
school, if the absence of technology and lack of resources in
Kashmir was why big business houses were staying away from the
state, Parekh said peace was the biggest requirement.
"These are not the real reasons. Peace is the biggest necessity
for establishment of any industry. Credit is the lowest in Kashmir
Valley as it presently stands at just 40 percent," he said.
"We need to provide funds to small entrepreneurs and we should
increase the credit flow to Kashmir so that there is economic
stability to begin with. It would only be after that that the big
houses would turn their attention to Kashmir," Parekh said.
To Yasmeen, another management student, who wanted to know why
there was hesitation in affording credit to the people of Kashmir,
Parekh said the local tourism industry has started showing growth
because the conditions here have shown drastic improvement.
But it has been noted that the local hotels do not have sufficient
rooms to cater to the tourist inflow, he noted.
"Our institutions are ready to provide credit in this sector and
it is for the people to now start approaching us for credit, which
would be promptly provided to them," said Parekh.
Intervening at this point, Gandhi told the students that peace
will have to precede big investments in Kashmir. Only then would
all the big businesses come and establish their concerns here, he
Other leading corporate leaders who interacted with the students
included K.M. Birla of the Aditya Birla Group, Rajiv Bajaj of
Bajaj Auto, and Ashoka Reddy of MindTree job consultancy/placement
At the end of the session, Bajaj promised he would again return to
the university in December to interact with the students regarding
job placements and creation of innovative opportunities for them.
Interestingly and against the expectations of some, participants
did not ask any political questions during the interactive session
which lasted for over two hours.