Dearth of IT sector hampers Kashmir growth

Published Nov 28, 2012 11:28am

Where other industries in Kashmir are struggling for improvement, the Information Technology (IT) sector continues to remain missing from Kashmir.– Reuters (File Photo)

SRINAGAR:  Decades of conflict have not only resulted in innocent killings, disappearances and custodial deaths, but have also stalled the development of Kashmir Valley.

Where other industries in Kashmir are struggling for improvement, the Information Technology (IT) sector continues to remain missing from Kashmir.

This has not only added to the unemployment issues but has also forced thousands of Kashmiri youth to leave home for IT related jobs elsewhere.

“The absence of an IT industry is a major void in our society,” said Nazir Ahmad from the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He said the industry could not only augment the state economy, which is mostly supported by tourism, but would also generate employment.

Adeel Shah, 26, has come home after seven months. He left Kashmir to pursue his career in electronic engineering seven years ago.

“I never wanted to leave home,” says Shah, “ but since there is no IT sector in our Valley, I had to move to Banglore.”

Adeel is working as a software programmer in Cognizant IT solutions.

Thirty-two-year-old Mohammad Shafat added from New Delhi that he wishes to come back home but dearth of IT jobs is standing in his way.

“I have been living away from home for 10 years now. I want to live in Kashmir but that is not possible unless some IT park is established there.”

Shafat has done software engineering from Delhi.

Besides IT parks and industries, Kashmir lags behind in IT education as well. Kashmir Valley has only one government engineering college, the National Institute of Technology (NIT), and one private school, the Srinagar School of Management (SSM) College of Engineering and Technology.

SSM provides only diplomas in IT, while it is the NIT that offers degrees. Students who cannot be accommodated in NIT have to move out of the state or study abroad.

SSM principal Dr N.A. Shah said it is imperative to develop the IT industry to secure the future of Kashmiri youth. “Our intelligent and hardworking youth are suffering because we do not have proper IT education and IT industries here,” he said.

IT-inclined students leave Kashmir every year, he added.

Students studying civil engineering courses are well absorbed in various sectors in Kashmir but those from the IT field suffer.

The privilege of getting education outside Kashmir is also limited to students hailing from affluent families. Those from the lower-middle class and poor families have no option but to switch to other options.

Twenty-three-year-old Mudasir always wanted to be an engineer. But the absence of related education forced him to switch to Arts.

“I love handling electronic devices. I have been repairing them since my teenage years. But I could not pursue engineering as there is just one college for it.”

He says he still dreams of being an engineer.

“But I cannot afford going to Delhi or other place for my education. I have to continue with humanities as my subjects.”

Scores of students who wish to make their career in IT sector feel anxious about their future.

“I want to pursue my career in the IT field but my parents will not allow me to move out of the Valley. I am really confused,” said Areeba, a student of Class 12.

She says even if she gets admission at NIT Srinagar, she has no job avenues here.

The state government, on the other hand, has been trying to woo various MNC’s to establish their companies in Kashmir.

Kashmir’s Minister of Science and Technology, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi blamed the conflict and disturbances in the Valley for the delay in the entry of IT companies.

“Disturbances are a major setback in this respect because multinational companies feel insecure in setting up their companies here,” Mehdi said.

He added that even as MNCs and other IT companies want to set up their offices here, “they feel insecure. They do not want to come to a place which is insecure and where work is affected.”

Some initiatives are being taken at the government level to set up the IT sector, Mehdi said, adding that   land in the outskirts of the Valley had been earmarked for an IT park.  “It will be funded by the government of India. We are pursuing the legal part and hope to work on it soon.”

He stated that the government intends to provide all possible incentives to various IT companies to motivate them to set up their offices and branches in the Valley.

More From This Section

Comments (40) (Closed)


Vishnu Dutta
Nov 29, 2012 12:54am
Equity in national prosperity has long been an issue in India. Its sad that kashmir has so few technical colleges, next time may be congress govt should stop pleasing mamta benargee and divert some funds to kashmir.
kay
Nov 29, 2012 01:38am
good
Vishnu Dutta
Nov 29, 2012 12:55am
But AJK doesnt have insurgency right, so whats their excuse?
Gohar Ali
Nov 28, 2012 05:40pm
Thats not true, life here in AJK is much better. We have several IT houses and employment rates are decreasing. Plus with all the expatriates who are returning to AJK, many new business have started. We are hoping that with the completion of the AJK motorway connecting us to the capital Islamabad things are only bound to improve. Infact, many of AJK's indicators are above the national average.
bala
Nov 28, 2012 11:59pm
I am from Kerala, a small, yet, a beautiful province in the Indian Union. We too don't have science parks or industrial houses or IT hubs. Most of our highly skilled people go to U.S, Australia. Besides U.S and U.K, our nurses tend to go to Europe. You can see large no. of skilled, and semi- skilled workers from Kerala in the gulf nations. Kashmiris too must seek better employment abroad. Why stick to the old birth place and rot in when we have two legs and a lot of dreams to roam. Before leaving, get a decent education. Then do one thing. Cheer up and be ready to roam. Be mobile. You are a free bird. Rest will seek you.
Aniket
Nov 28, 2012 11:49pm
Dear Sana, It is true that there is no IT sector is Kashmir. But then, that is the case with an overwhelming majority of the states. IT sector is concentrated primarily in Bangalore, Chennai, Noida and Hyderabad, with Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Trivendrum being the smaller IT centers. The complaint you're making is the same with people of bigger states such as Rajasthan, MP, Bihar, Orisaa, Assam, Punjab etc, who have to go to the above mentioned bigger centers for IT jobs. Even if IT parks have been established in these states, they have seen little or no occupancy by companies, as due to lack of growth opportunities, good executives don't really want to work over there. Therefore, insurgency and Army presence is not to be blamed for lack of IT in Kashmir. Not every state can have an IT sector - and as far as I can see, Kashmir cannot realistically aspire for a thriving one.in the near future. It's better to move out - Delhi/ NCR isn't that far - if you want to make a career for yourself in IT.
Rajesh
Nov 30, 2012 01:16am
Very interesting view from across the border. I do agree that companies are avoiding being a terror target. However, I have read very little about the life in Pakistani Kashmir - why is it so? Is it such a non happening place that it is never in news or the news is suppressed? Want to know if Pakistani Kashmir youth have better life than their counterparts. I want the author to honestly do a fair comparison.
Karthik
Nov 30, 2012 08:13am
Kashmir is not the only state with lack of IT jobs. There are other states like Jharkand and Chattisgarsh. Ofcourse Kashmir's economy has been affected more thanks to terrorism.
banerjee
Nov 29, 2012 03:41pm
Very misleading article. How did it die when it has not even seen its birth!!!! You want progress in the State, integrate with rest of the country. Who wants to invest, if an Indian citizen can not buy property there?
xeroxus
Nov 29, 2012 07:27pm
probably he means that IT's presence in Kashmir is better than in many other parts like khyber pakhtunkhwa
VK
Nov 29, 2012 06:04am
Well, IT industry has its own needs and expectations, just like other specialized industries - and cannot come up everywhere. Leave aside J&K, even Guajart, the most idustrialized state in India does not have IT indsutry worth claiming. Gujarat has peace, security and lot of enggineering colleges. Aspirants leave their home town/state in search of better education and jobs propsects is so very common in the modern world including other states of India.
saber techno
Nov 29, 2012 03:46pm
pointless article ..... not worthy of Dawn! The same holds true for many parts of india pakistan and even use! so your point is....?
Nitesh
Nov 29, 2012 05:36pm
It means you are also realizing that kashmiris want to live happily and want to job anywhere in india and want to contribute...... Good Article......we Indians take care of every one
aks_USA
Nov 29, 2012 05:36pm
give me a website of any one IT company functioning from Pakistani side of Kashmir --I am sure its difficult to find one ;)
Saurabh
Nov 29, 2012 04:36am
States like bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh, MP, seven sister states, Anadaman Nicobar, Lakshwadeep, daman and diu, HP they too dont have IT industry. In India IT industry is limited to metro cities such as bangalore, chennai, mumbai,pune, NCR, Chandigarh, Kolkata etc
ROHIT PANDEY
Nov 30, 2012 10:17am
Magic carpets genies out of a bottle and assorted stories tally with your post-same genre!
Shridhar Subrahmanyam
Nov 29, 2012 03:17pm
I was in Srinagar this summer and was heartened by the fact that there is considerable improvement in the security situation and people are now looking for a normal life with opportunities. The first order of priority is to set up two top class engineering colleges to attract the best and the brightest of the youth. Ditto medical colleges. I was hoping that Rahul Gandhi's initiative in taking the movers and shakers of the Indian industry to Srinagar last summer would bring in more investments and jobs.That has not happened. The Indian Administered Kashmir Government has to be more proactive in attracting more investments and visit major industrial centres i.e. Bangalore, Chennai. Delhi, Pine, Hyderabad, Kolkata and persuade some of the biggies there to set up industrial and IT parks in the Valley.
suraj
Nov 29, 2012 12:03pm
so what! i m also from odisha but now in hydrabad for an it job. it is not different for kashmir only.
raja hindustani
Nov 29, 2012 01:45pm
Terror & development couldn't go hand to hand........
Virkaul
Nov 29, 2012 03:41am
Peaceful environment is the prime requirement of investment and industry.
Ankit Sharma
Nov 29, 2012 10:56am
The setting up of IT industries in Kashmir is a far fetched dream. As already pointed out there a lot of tier 2, and even tier 1 cities that do not have a big IT industry presence. It is concentrated on metros only. Thousands of youth move out of their homes for better job opportunities from other states as well. The one difference I can think of is the lack of transport options to Kashmir from major Indian cities which makes it difficult for people living elsewhere to visit home often. In a way, I prefer kashmiri youth moving out of kashmir as it will help them integrate with India in a better way as compared to them living inside kashmir. That is very important pre-requisite for peace in the region. However, there is no justfication for having a small number of professional institutes in Kashmir. The government and even the private institutions must invest in Kashmir to make education easier and accessible for the local possible. I suspect finding the right people (teachers and support staff) for setting up the institutes to be a bottleneck as it will be difficult to encourage people from outside kashmir to come and work there. Initially, Kashmir may not have the right number of teachers and support staff possible. I dont expect funding to be an issue though. Again - everything comes down to people's perception of how peaceful and safe is living in Kashmir. Surely its improving but more needs to be done to change this.
Aniket
Nov 29, 2012 10:53am
Yeah, even I'm curious. Which are the IT houses that have set up shop in AJK, Gohar?
Ahmed Sultan (Mumbai)
Nov 29, 2012 09:34am
Several IT houese?? Can you name some of them??
suresh shenoy
Nov 29, 2012 05:20am
Dear Sana A truly written article, forget Multi National Corporations(MNC) even Indian IT Giant Infosys & others have refused to invest in Kashmir or set up a office because of disturbances & insecurity. Regards Suresh Shenoy-Bombay
Abhishek
Nov 29, 2012 02:31am
even worse may be
abc
Nov 28, 2012 06:19pm
Same case with Pakistan in its entirity. There is no place in Pakistan, which is safe and peaceful for condcting uninterupted IT jobs
Shah Deeldar
Nov 28, 2012 02:25pm
Companies do not appreciate terror, plain and simple! It is up to Kashmiris to renounce the violence and make the valley prosperous and booming.
Pablo
Nov 28, 2012 03:46pm
Whats wrong in moving to better places in search of better career? Good for national integration!!! True Indian
Morad786
Nov 28, 2012 02:58pm
dont agree! because I know as I am one of them!
khurran
Nov 28, 2012 01:43pm
same case with pakistan AJK/GB.
Roh_London
Nov 28, 2012 04:22pm
Better for the youth of Kashmir to go to an other place as this might integrate them more as Indians, than working in Kashmir and fighting for an independent Kashmir when financially established.
alien
Nov 28, 2012 03:56pm
People have to be flexible in global village. Majority of Kashmiris are rigid and arrogant. They are abusive to minorities.
Gautham
Nov 28, 2012 04:00pm
his is not something specific to Kashmir although speaking of Kashmir as a victim of sorts may generate readership. I’m from Hyderabad, India and I ever since I finished my Engineering I have been on the move. One, because the IT sector was not that developed in early nineties; two, the number of jobs available were just not enough for local population; three, the advanced end of IT services were not that great. As a result, I worked in Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, UK, Australia and the USA. Again, several cities in the UK and the USA. The IT sector is doing great in Hyderabad today. There are a couple of reasons. One, the IT Businesses thought that it makes sense to start the shop in Hyderabad as the city achieved critical mass in talent supply chain. Two, the then Govt of Andhra Pradesh promoted the city in a big way with incentives to industries. Three, it all starts small - first the BPO services, then the lower end of IT, then the higher end of IT. What Jammu & Kashmir needs is more colleges and more people willing to go to BPO first and the Govt incentives for Businesses - tax breaks and importantly, security. If these basics are in place and if the Talent supply increases, IT will come searching to J&K.
follower
Nov 28, 2012 04:32pm
in india every univesity have additional separate qota for kashmiri student with scholarship.so dont blame govt alone young student shuld not make execuse of it
hakunamatata
Nov 28, 2012 03:24pm
good. Kashmiri youth are getting to see the rest of their country..
arpan
Nov 28, 2012 06:14pm
Only a few states in India have a developed IT sector. Kashmir is not unique in not having an IT sector. Most of professionals in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Noida etc. are not locals but come from different states to make their carriers.
kris
Nov 28, 2012 07:12pm
First clear the weed. Then you can grow the vegetables and fruits.
dhk
Nov 28, 2012 04:54pm
vicous circle.. no jobs leads to more fertile ground for protests and violence which leads to less jobs. hopefully with more families having their children go out of Kashmir might create a change in outlook and lead to peace in the valley.
aks_USA
Nov 28, 2012 05:23pm
well I laugh when u guys are so worried about Kashmir, Palestine and so on...... Frankly are you doing well enough to care for others......JUST ASK THIS QUES TO URSELF AND YOUR LEADERS
Vijay Kaul
Dec 07, 2012 12:36am
Being a Kashmiri of Pandit Origin, I had set up a Computer training Institute in Kashmir and had to flee Kashmir due to "Azadi" disturbances in 1990. Given the everyday uncertain atmosphere, no business can survive leave alone thrive. Kashmiri people have to embrace pluralism and tolerance before normalcy returns to the valley.