Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is the “strength” and “honour” for Jammu and Kashmir and the special status would not be threatened by the New Industrial Policy, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Thursday even as she promised to review the controversial proposal.
She said that the New Industrial Policy, which is being opposed by various parties as well as separatist groups, is completely in tune with the one promulgated by the then Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1975.
“Article 370 is our strength and our honour,” Mehbooba said in the Legislative Council about the provision in the Indian Constitution which grants special status to the state.
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“Nobody should harbour any misconceptions that there is any threat to J&K’s special status by the Industrial Policy,” she said while answering a question on New Industrial Policy.
At the same time, the Chief Minister added, “We have decided to review the policy to remove any misconceptions in this regard.”
The announcement for reviewing comes against the backdrop of a controversy over it. Separatist groups have already declared their intent to launch a “campaign” against the new policy.
“We enter this august House (Legislative Council) by swearing by the State Constitution and it is empowering for all irrespective of the party grouping,” Mehbooba said.
She said skill development in traditional arts and crafts of the state would be incentivized to keep these treasured crafts alive and create employment avenues for the youth.
The Chief Minister also said that Jammu and Kashmir has to capitalize on its competitive advantage, especially in traditional arts and crafts, for sustained economic growth. Arming the local youth with adequate skills will also be the key component of this process
According to the 57-year-old Chief Minister, skill-enhancement in heritage arts like shawls, carpets, paper machie, wood carving, Basohli crafts and Ladakhi craftsmanship would be incentivized so that the new generation of the state’s youth is motivated to take up these high-value crafts as a means of livelihood and at the same time contribute towards the state’s economic growth.
“We have to develop localized skill strategies so that the skills supply matches the skills demand. It is not just the supply of skills which needs to be addressed, but also the demand for skills and the utilization of skills in the local workplaces,” Mehbooba said.
She said the corporate houses like National Hydroelectric Power Corporation(NHPC) and various Cellular Companies operating in Jammu and Kashmir have been asked to adopt at least one ITI or polytechnic to train the local youth in specific trades so that they get employment locally.
The Jammu and Kashmir government has asked the Education Department to start part-time skill development courses in traditional crafts in schools and colleges to attract the youth towards distinct heritage arts of the state, the Chief Minister said.
She said the Skill Development Initiative is still in infancy and a lot needs to be done to draw the desired results from this ambitious programme.
Earlier in June, during the first meeting of the Governing Council on National Skill Development Mission (NSDM) held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, Mehbooba said there was consensus among the participants that skill development has to be area-specific and need-based to make the initiative productive.
“The time has come to change the mindset and uplift the skilled people… In J&K also, we are working out a model of skill development which will be in sync with the local arts and crafts and the market need,” she said.
Mehbooba said the government shall have to intervene to ensure adequate promotion and marketing facilities for the heritage arts of J&K which are otherwise facing severe pressure and competition.
“While we train the youth in traditional crafts, we have to also ensure adequate market facilities to ensure good returns for their products,” she said.
“We want to partner with the industry to train people, certify them and offer them jobs,” she said.