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Modi’s J&K business pitch: Massive potential in saffron, apples, shawls, biggest tourist destination

Prachi Gupta

Addressing the nation for the first time after revoking Article 370, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Jammu and Kashmir's herbs like Saffron (Jafran) have great business potential and are waiting to be sold in the markets worldwide. This will provide a fillip to economy and employment to Kashmiri youth, PM said in his speech. As many herbal and organic products are scattered across J&K and Ladakh, "if they are identified and marketed in the global market, then it will greatly benefit the people and farmers of these regions," PM Modi said. He also urged the enterprises to harness the same. Also, the region encompassing Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh is famous for both its artisan work and natural gems including apples, apricots, kahwa and Kashmiri shawls. "The organic products of Ladakh or herbal medicines need to be spread worldwide and require proper endorsing," PM said.

In his speech, PM Narendra Modi also said that the valley can become the biggest tourist destinations across the globe and reforms are being meted out in the direction. Recently, a hotelier's association had also said that while about 60% of Kashmir's population is engaged in tourism and ancillary activities, the sector contributes only 15% of the state GDP. The removal of Article 370 will help in harnessing the state tourism's true potential, Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, President, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) & Vice President, Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) said.

Ladakh too has great tourism potential and it can "become the biggest centre of Spiritual Tourism, Adventure Tourism, and Ecotourism," PM said. Other than this, the Ladakh region can also harness solar power to create employment and also contribute to the economy.

The government is also trying to generate employment in the valley. PM Modi said that the government will soon start a recruitment drive to fill the vacancies in government jobs. He also encouraged private and public sector enterprises to participate in job creation.

The BJP government had recently scrapped Article 370 which conferred special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The state has been bifurcated into two with Jammu & Kashmir as one Union Territory and Ladakh as another.