Rural Development in J&K

By Dr. Banarsi Lal and  Dr. Pawan Sharma

Srinagar : Jammu and Kashmir is endowed with huge untapped natural resources and is acknowledged as the paradise on the earth. The state is blessed with lush green forests, which is one of the most important natural resources of the state. The unique climatic conditions found in the state contribute to its diverse soil and vegetation. If this state is facilitated and promoted well, then it can emerge as one of the biggest employer for the people. This state can also add to the growth and income of the country. The total area of Jammu and Kashmir is 2, 22,236 and is the 6th largest state in India occupying 6.76 per cent of the geographical area in India. The state is surrounded by the hills and comprises of 22 districts, 86 towns and 6551 villages. As per 2011 Census, the total population of the state is 1, 25, and 41,302 which is 1.04 per cent of the total population of India and occupies 19th rank in population. Literacy rate of the state is 68.74 per cent. As per 2011 Census, the population density of the state is 124 persons per sq. Km. as compared to 382 per sq. Km. of India. The state ranks 8th among states and Union Territories in terms of population density. The ISOCODE assigned by the International Organisation for Standardization for Jammu and Kashmir is JK.

Rural development implies both the economic betterment of people as well as greater social transformation. Increased participation of people in the rural development process, decentralization of planning, better enforcement of land reforms and greater access to credit and inputs go a long way in providing the rural people with better prospects for economic development. Improvements in health, education, drinking water, energy supply, sanitation, housing, attitudinal changes etc. facilitate in the development of any region. J&K is unique in many respects and needs special policy interventions.  In spite of being endowed with rich natural resources in terms of forests, biological diversity, hydroelectricity, but still the region has not gained desired development.

A good infrastructure and wide connectivity are the key factors for growth and development of the state. The region needs infrastructure to support and ensure significant investments and developmental aids. The region has civil conflict, lack of development, poverty, unemployment. All the districts in the state have different developmental prospects and resources to support their efforts in contributing to the regional as well as national economy. A critical appraisal of the key economic indicators along with a detailed sketch of the individual strengths of the states is necessary to achieve a holistic framework for the growth in the region

Around 10.35 per cent of the population falls under Below Poverty Line (BPL) category in J&K with rural areas having more poor people than urban areas. Rural poverty is inextricably linked with low rural productivity and unemployment. With the renewed efforts by the government to develop the state, it can be brought into the mainstream by the development. It is imperative to improve productivity and increase employment in rural areas of J&K. More employment needs to be generated in order to generate higher output. Employment is miserably low in the state and rural income is already a problem at a greater magnitude. The rural economy in J&K can be improved by the development of rural infrastructure, by the development of agro-based, horticultural based, forest based small scale industries, by the development of floriculture and mushroom cultivation, by imparting the need based  trainings for entrepreneurial activities, by supporting projects to build up infrastructure and take up other economic development programmes, by harnessing the Central grants for development of info-tech infrastructure, by setting up marketing infrastructure, by changing the educational policy with main focus on technically educated manpower and by financial   support to the rural people by the financial institutions. Governance, capacity building, connectivity, power, social infrastructure, active involvement of the grass-root social institutions in development planning, public- private participation and Look east policy constitute are the critical parameters for the development. Agro-based Industries such as apple industry, saffron industry, Basmati industry, fruit and vegetables processing industry, etc., forest-based Industries such as plywood industry, saw-mill industry, paper and paper pulp industry, match industry, hard board industry etc. and other industries such as power generation industry, fertilizer industry, printing press, brick and tiles industry, ice industry, chemical industry, cement industry etc. should be promoted in the state so that more and more employment and income can be generated. In search of employment the rural people migrate from rural areas to urban areas. The rate at which the population eligible for work is growing in the urban areas is much higher than the rate at which industries are growing. The most important type of urban unemployment is the educated unemployment which is also a socio-economic problem with far-reaching consequences. The unemployment rate in J&K represents is higher than that of unemployment in the country with an unemployment rate close to 24.6 %, against the national average of 13.2%.

Under-utilized natural resources, primitive agriculture and slow industrial growth and population pressure are the main factors responsible for the menace of unemployment in J&K. Unemployment in the region is also aggravated by sub-division and fragmentation of land holdings.

Applications of modern methods of agriculture on such uneconomic holding are limited due to which the farmers do not get high crops yields which is also the reason of un- employment opportunities in agriculture in J&K. Without a sound industrial growth, the problem of unemployment in the J&K could hardly be tackled .State also lacks technical education institutions. Large number of matriculates, undergraduates, graduates and post graduates are coming out every year leading to the increasing gap between employment opportunities and job seekers among the educated youths.

Professional guidance and training facilities need to be improved in the state. In J&K, the educated people have apathy in accepting trade and commerce as a profession. Due to this the educated people of J&K are sometimes not availing the employment opportunities available to them, leading to the growth of widespread unemployment in the state.

Adequate steps should be taken for rapid economic development of this state, especially through quick and diversified industrialization. This will create new employment opportunities, especially for the educated persons and skilled workers. Modernized methods of agriculture should be introduced to increase the employment potential of agriculture. Spread of new farm technology will help the economy of J&K by raising their agricultural productivity. The system of education prevalent at present can to be changed.

The present literary educational system must be replaced by technical and vocational education system to make it production oriented. For enlarging the scope of self-employment, liberal institutional finance should be made available. In order to establish the small industries and business, special assistance should be provided to individuals and small groups of people. The entrepreneurial spirit should be stimulated enough among the indigenous people of the area. The efficient implementation of Self Help Groups (SHGs) model can generate income and employment especially among the rural women. The agriculture, dairy, food processing, poultry, handloom etc. are some of the industries which have immense growth potential in J&K.

Source: Daily Excelsior

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