PM's address at the 5th Convocation of Sher-E-Kashmir University for Agriculture, Science and Technology of Kashmir
I have had the opportunity to visit the beautiful state of Jammu and Kashmir every year in the past six years. Like every other occasion, I am very happy to be here with you this time too.
I am especially happy to be amongst the academic fraternity of Jammu and Kashmir. On any such occasion, I recall my early days as a teacher as well as a student. It is my belief that there is no profession nobler than teaching. The development of our nation is to a large extent the responsibility of our teachers. I salute the entire teaching fraternity today. Those engaged in imparting higher education often have to work in adverse conditions, which include insufficient funds, inadequate infrastructure and other difficulties.
Our young women and men are the future of our country and we have high expectations from them. You are in a vibrant India which is ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow. My generation would not have even dreamt of the opportunities and convenience of technology available in the country today. I am of the firm opinion that in the years to come the avenues available for your intellectual, emotional, cultural and professional development will multiply manifold in a new, strong Jammu and Kashmir and India.
Your institution is of great importance for Jammu and Kashmir in many ways. There is a lot of scope for improvement in the field of agriculture and horticulture in the state. The Sher-e-kashmir University can contribute substantially in these areas. Over three fourths of the population of the state is engaged in occupations related to land. In rural areas irrigation facilities are inadequate, in many parts there is severe cold and shortage of fodder etc. for six months in a year. The agricultural productivity in the state is low and there is little value addition after harvest.
To overcome these problems, the Sher-e-Kashmir University can play an important role in improving technology in areas such as crop production, horticulture, cattle rearing, fishery, sericulture and agricultural education. The university in the past has contributed substantially to technological upgradation for temperate and cold desert regions of the country. In recognition of its contribution and in view of its importance to the development of the state, the central government will provide a special grant of Rs. 100 crore to the university.
Last month, I met Dr. Shah Faisal, a young doctor from Kashmir. His father was a teacher who lost his life to the violence in the state. Dr. Faisal has made the entire state proud by standing first in the Civil Services Examination. He received all his education in institutions of Jammu and Kashmir. His success is proof that the educational institutions in the state are no less than other educational institutions of our country. My best wishes are with Dr. Faisal. I also greet the other students from Jammu and Kashmir who have succeeded in the Civil Services Examination of the UPSC.
A bright future awaits these youngsters. I believe that they will inspire all of us to work for a better tomorrow. I expect many more such achievements from the students of the state. I pray for a successful career for all of you.
However, I am also concerned that many youth from Jammu and Kashmir and especially from Srinagar feel disillusioned due to the lack of economic opportunities. I can imagine the disillusionment of those who have received education in premier institutions like the Sher-e-Kashmir University and yet cannot find good employment. In cooperation with the state government, we will make every possible effort to create adequate employment opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir.
Many of you have participated in the 2009 assembly elections. A young leadership has emerged out of the elections. I am very happy that today both the central and the state governments are working together on major issues related to Jammu and Kashmir. The central government will extend all possible assistance to the state to accelerate its pace of economic development.
In 2004, our government had launched a programme for economic reconstruction and development of the state. The programme was prepared by leading economists of our country. There is special emphasis in this plan on enabling the local youth to make use of their education to contribute to the progress of the state. We felt that the people of the state are not only interested in financial assistance and development projects but also desire a political process that meets their aspirations. In view of this, we convened three Round Table Conferences. In these conferences we took care to include as many civil society and political groups from the state as possible. Several recommendations have emerged out of the deliberations in these conferences and we are implementing them in a step-wise manner.
We wish to carry forward the process of dialogue and we are ready to hold talks with the representative of any group which shuns violence and terror.
As a result of our efforts, Rail services have commenced in the Kashmir valley. Work is on full swing to provide rail connectivity to Banihal pass and the difficult terrain ahead of it. The Mughal road has been opened for single lane traffic now and nearly half of the work is complete for its double laning. As far as power generation is concerned, I am happy that the 450 megawatt Baglihar-I power project has been commissioned. The Centre has decided to link Ladakh with the National grid and the Union Cabinet has given a go ahead to the Rs. 473 crore Ladakh Renewable Energy Initiative. All 14 degree colleges sanctioned under the Prime Minister’s economic reconstruction programme have started working. Six out of nine ITIs for girls have been completed. Thousands of employment opportunities have been generated in the Central Para Military forces, under National Rural Health Mission, in Railways and in many other government departments. But I believe that there is still more to be done.
Good work has been done under the state horticulture mission in Jammu and Kashmir. Old gardens have been reclaimed and community ponds have been reconstructed. Horticulture and agriculture in the state are benefiting immensely from the central assistance provided under the National Horticulture Mission and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. The saffron from the state is famous world over for its use in enhancing the taste of food and for its medicinal properties. I am happy to announce that the government intends to set up a National Mission to look into issues related to research, production, processing and marketing of saffron.
In order to help the youth in employment, emphasis has been given to professional training. The Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Technology has trained 385 agriculture graduates and I am pleased to know that they are doing good work. Training has been imparted to youth in Information Technology and nearly 8000 youth will be trained in high technology areas in ITIs. Under the National Youth Corps Scheme training and allowances will be given to nearly 8000 youth. I hope that this will give impetus to skill development in the districts and the entire State.
I am told that in Srinagar and other cities people face problems related to power supply, drinking water, roads and ration shops. I am hopeful that the state government will look into these complaints. The central government will extend all possible help to the Jammu Kashmir government in this regard.
We have tried our best to promote movement of people and trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkot roads. We now want to take similar steps for the Kargil-Skardu route. You may recall that when I inaugurated the Muzaffarabad bus service, I had hoped that it would just be the beginning. We have been consistently trying to increase trade and commerce between different parts of Jammu and Kashmir. We want to look at all possible measures to strengthen links between people on both sides of the Line of Control.
However, there are a handful of people who do not want any political process for empowering people to succeed. This is the reason that attempts to disturb the lives of the people in the valley still continue from across the line of control. Whenever such incidents happen, they spread terror and cause disruption in the life of people. Our security agencies are forced to act in the wake of such incidents. During the process sometimes innocent civilians have to suffer, but whenever such incidents happen it becomes necessary to act against those responsible for them. I am aware of some complaints related to human rights. On this issue, the government policy is to protect the human rights of the people even when dealing with terrorism. The security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have been strictly instructed to respect the rights of the civilians. We will act to remove any deficiency in the implementation of these instructions.
Today, I would like to say to our neighbours across the line of control that they should help in creating an environment in which people from both the sides can live in peace and harmony and work together.
Our issues with Pakistan are well known. Good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan are in the interest of both the countries. At the same time they are necessary for peace and harmony, stability and development of our region. The relations between the two countries over the past one and a half years have been under the shadow of the terror attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. As you are aware, I met the Prime Minister of Pakistan in Thimpu last month. Both the countries accepted that there is a trust deficit between us. We also agreed that this distance between the two countries must be reduced.
Prime Minister Gilani Saheb has assured me that Pakistan will not allow its soil to be used for terrorist activities against India. Meaningful talks between the two countries, which can lead to a resolution of old issues, are possible only when Pakistan doesn’t let its territory be used for acts of terror against India.
The destiny of our people is linked to each other. Therefore both the countries should adopt effective ways of co-operation to the benefit of the people of the two countries. A strong, stable and prosperous Pakistan is in the interest of our whole region.
I congratulate all students who have received degrees today. I also congratulate those students of Jammu and Kashmir who have continued their studies despite difficulties. I see a bright future for all of you notwithstanding some difficulties that you might face. I wish you all success in life. May God bless your path.