As students of Kashmir university spoke of lack of job opportunities for them during an interactive session with a top business delegation, the industrialists promised to pave the way for job openings by offering internships and exchange programmes.
The internships were offered by Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata and HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh who along with Bajaj and Aditya Birla group chief Kumar Manglam Birla were part of a delegation brought by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on his two-day visit to Kashmir.
"The first four bikes I saw as I left the airport were Bajaj Pulsar motorcycles and was happy they are used in a big way but I want you to come to our factories and make Pulsars too," Bajaj said.
One girl student said they want the captains of the Indian industry to ignite the spark in them. Responding to this, Tata offered internship for students of Kashmir University at the Tata group firms which could lead to permanent employment.
Stipends will also be provided, he added. "The industry has not looked consciously at the wealth and capabilities in Kashmir. We need to correct that and savour the capability of people in Kashmir," he said.
Parekh also offered internship for students of the University in his bank besides providing banking skills after graduation that could earn them a certificate.
While participating in the panel discussion on "Building bridges: Students of J&K and economic opportunity in the country", Rahul said "I will be little blunt. Business people are after business. They will go to places where they get business. And wherever they go for it they will need two things--stability and trust.
We need to develop a long lasting relationship of stability and trusts. Once it is done then you will find that investments are coming."
Clad in black jacket and blue jeans Rahul also said the idea is not to set up or start a project. "The idea is to establish sustainable projects," he said, suggesting that peace in the region should be a precursor for future investments.
Rahul said it is not good enough to get stability but one needs to take pre-emptive action to improve it. "I don't see any reason why big businessmen will not come in here.
Once stability starts coming in investments will come (automatically)," he said to a loud applause from students sitting in the jam-packed hall to show their support.
Parekh echoed Gandhi's view and said that banks are not shying away from giving money but project has to be viable.
He asked people to tap opportunities in the field of tourism. Parekh assured that banks are willing to give money on loan to people provided the projects are viable.
Birla assured that the state will see much more investments in the year to come. "We have couple of investments here, like Ultratech cement. In addition we are talking to take over some cement units here and combine them. We have mobile service 'Idea'."
"The whole environment here is so different here. It is a conducive atmosphere. The kind of stability we are seeing for past two-and-a half years, you will see much more investments in the time to come," he said.
Responding to a question, Tata said "As far as TATA group is concerned we have decided to offer internships to the students of the University of Kashmir in various areas of specialisation and we will try our best and make sure that these internships turn into permanent jobs."
Birla said his group is exploring ways to facilitate an exchange programme for the students of the University of Kashmir in the next three to four months at prestigious BITS Pilani which will enhance the practical skills and know-how of the students and increase their employability in the corporate world.
Responding to a query about the campus placements in the University, Parekh said "We have made it a point that every year the HR personnel from our bank visit the Kashmir University and identify the best talent for the job opportunity.
"We have been doing it for the past few years since we started our business in the valley and in future we will continue with the practice."
Other business leaders who interacted with the students included Ashok Reddy. During the interaction, the students apprised the business leaders about the growing unemployment in the valley and need for corporate investments to create job opportunities so as to give a boost to the local economy.
The students said that 71 percent population of the Valley comprised youth and amongst them 48 percent who are in late 20sand early 30sare unemployed.
The students and the business leaders agreed that Kashmir has a huge investment potential in tourism, healthcare, IT, handicrafts and agriculture and there is a need to take a first positive step in this direction for the promotion of these trades in the valley.