With India having the presidency of G20, it is a great opportunity for J&K UT to rise to the occasion of exhibiting and showcasing Kashmir – its cultural assets, ecotourism ventures, and business opportunities to the world powers.
By: Dar Javed
Just three years ago, not many people could have even imagined that Jammu and Kashmir would host the G-20 international summit. However, times have changed, and for the better. All this is taking place at a time when the people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) are facing near-starvation circumstances, and we Indian Kashmiris are progressing at a fast pace. The message is very simple: the entire Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the Union of India, and there is no argument. G20: A Move to Showcase India’s Geostrategic Significance
The government’s decision to hold a meeting in Kashmir in the year when India is holding the presidency of the world’s major and systematically leading economies is a grand geostrategic move. Its members represent 85% of the global GDP and 75% of international trade. Among all other reasons, the choice of the place has a different resonance than other cities hosting the events. And this is not just about the beauty of the city of Dal Lake and Mughal Gardens watched by the Zabarvan hills. It is the geopolitical importance that it holds, which Delhi knows, and so does the rest of the world, which will matter the most.
All eyes are focused on New Delhi, which, by displaying a more assertive and independent role in international affairs and foreign policy matters, has transformed and made India’s diplomatic approach more proactive. Many feel that due to ongoing terrorism in Kashmir, holding the G-20 summit here is not advisable. However, the flip side is that holding this meet here will dispel many myths and fallacies being peddled by our neighboring country.
At the moment, there are plenty of positives. The people are looking forward to the international event with hope and promise. They want to show the world the good image of Kashmir that has been lost over the decades, especially since 1990 when the armed conflict peaked and made Srinagar a city of expanding graveyards and almost daily funerals because of the men and women killed by bombs and bullets. Kashmir was censured as a no-go zone by several foreign countries, including the US, UK, Germany, and France – which are now leading lights of the G-20.
Since the top government officials and leaders of powerful and stable countries will gather in Jammu and Kashmir for the G-20 meeting, the people’s confidence in India’s democratic system will increase further. The ‘bad’ image of India created by our neighboring country and its backed lobby in the world through propaganda about J&K will be shattered like a house of sand.
With this, the message will go loud and clear to the world that the valley of Kashmir, once known for its bad reputation, is hosting its first International Summit with the world’s top leaders. Apart from this, our neighboring country and its lobbies will not be able to run any propaganda in the UNSC or at any other platform regarding Kashmir.
This is a manifestation of the economic urge among the people of J&K, for they know that a successful G-20 international summit would bring them economic benefits. The economic benefits won’t only be measured by the arrival of more tourists like Kashmir saw the highest record of tourists visiting in 2022 but also by creating a stable destination for investments. This would work two ways: the local Kashmiri youth will get training in different professions enabling them to compete internationally, and the global talent reaching them.”
This, in a way, is a hidden urge to place Srinagar city, and by extension, Kashmir, as a place as high and vibrant as the top cities of the world like Shanghai and Dubai, which stand on their own by way of their economy and investment destinations. The beauty of this event will be that it will enable global leaders to have first-hand information and a personal feel about Kashmir.
No wonder China has been supporting Islamabad’s stand, and they even approached Saudi Arabia and Turkey to thwart India’s move. However, their objection to the G20 summit being held in Kashmir has no legal or moral standing, and as such, it is a non-issue for the international community!
ECONOMIC BENEFITS FOR KASHMIR
Last year, Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital, Srinagar, was listed among the Creative cities across the world by UNESCO, which is playing a vital role in bringing more investment and benefiting thousands of artists associated with handicrafts.
At the same time, the Jammu and Kashmir administration is busy giving a new look to the city. Srinagar is being converted into a smart city, and the work is going at a fast pace. Most of the work is likely to finish before May 2023. The project, which has a budget of about $360 million, has $244 million allotted for the line departments. These departments are working in convergence with Smart City Limited on various projects. Smart City Limited, on its own, has a budget of around $100 million.
Thriving tourism Kashmir is a tourist haven with eco-tourism and adventure tourism being brought to the forefront with the likes of skiing and the iconic shikara, the houseboat that depicts the blend of luxury and rich heritage Kashmir offers. J&K is a tourist favourite for its scenic splendour, snow-capped mountains, exquisite monuments and hospitable people. The message that lies with G20 international summit being scheduled in Kashmir is clear — presenting Kashmir – as a truly transformed, exotic valley, with its rich culture and heritage, to the world.
As the top diplomats of the G-20 countries take stock of the situation here, the insecurity in a common man will also end. And its effect will be seen in the form of an increase in the number of tourists. Since Kashmir is known for its picture-postcard scenery, if tourism increases, many Kashmiris will get employment, which will improve their household economy. And when Kashmiri youth will be engaged in jobs, then the situation will be normal soon because it will be difficult for peace disruptors to mull Kashmiri youth for anti-national activities.
Agriculture is the mainstay of Jammu and Kashmir. International delegates will get a firsthand opportunity to view the tremendous potential of agriculture (millets, apples), horticulture (saffron), and floriculture that Kashmir offers. These crops also hold potential for high-value addition to the local economy since they garner high international demand. As Kashmir’s premier trade body, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), said that the G20 event in Jammu and Kashmir will give a massive boost to the economy of the region.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of this newspaper