SRINAGAR, May 23: I am very pleased to be among you. Welcome you all to this press meet. At the outset, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji for providing this historic opportunity to Union territory of J&K to host 3rd Tourism Working Group meeting of G20 member nations and observer countries. We had a very exciting and productive inaugural session earlier today. The significant deliberation, exchange of views and perspectives will help in building a framework based on five priority areas for sustainable tourism as we advance towards post Covid pandemic era. I have also been informed that the ongoing 3rd Tourism Working Group Meeting in Srinagar is the biggest gathering of foreign delegates so far. I think it is bigger than previous TWG meetings in Siliguri and Gujarat, and except China, all G20 nations delegates, representatives and other stakeholders of tourism industry of the respective countries are participating in the event. I have been informed that 57 delegates from 27 countries are participating in the G20 meeting at Srinagar and it is reflection of India’s strength and our ancient values of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’.
Jammu Kashmir is fully committed to the effort to build on shared aspirations for sustainable tourism and as you are aware Hon’ble Prime Minister has accorded highest priority to sustainable social & economic development of Jammu Kashmir. In the last 4 years, policies and programmes have been reshaped so that the benefits of growth percolate to the masses and nurture the nature. In tourism sector, there has been unprecedented increase in the tourist footfall after the second wave of covid pandemic and we were happy to host over 18 million tourists last year, which, I would say, was unparalleled since Independence. Our focus on green tourism, off beat destinations, involvement of local communities, and according industry status to tourism sector has turned this sector into one of the most flourishing industries in Jammu Kashmir. Our sustained reforms, including a new film policy, modern infrastructure and ease of doing business, has transformed Jammu Kashmir into a preferred destination for shooting of films, which is also strengthening the economy and providing employment opportunity to the people. Overall tourism offered large number of employment and contributed around 7% to its GDP in last fiscal year.
I can confidently say that under the guidance of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji, Jammu Kashmir is on the move. By adopting whole of government approach, ecosystem of terror sponsored by our neighbour has been almost dismantled. Schools and colleges remain open allowing youth to focus on career building. Today’s Jammu Kashmir is not a land of hartals or stone pelters. It’s a land of peace and prosperity that responsible and responsive administration is trying too hard to bring in lives of the people. Jammu Kashmir is governed by the Constitution of India, which has established rule of law and supremacy of the people. Grass-root democracy has been growing from strength to strength. The three-tier PRI system has ensured stability and consistency in development and participation of people in policy making. We have an open and vibrant press and more than 400 newspapers are published every day. The digital revolution has unleashed socio-cultural transformation, which has empowered every section of the society, especially young generation.
With more than 65% population below 35 years of age, we are witnessing emergence of a powerful force of youth that is contributing to invention, innovation and research. You will be surprised to know that last year, 6 million youth participated in various sporting events across Jammu Kashmir. Every district of Jammu Kashmir has a multi-purpose indoor sports hall. Gulmarg is being transformed into world-class winter sports destination. We wanted to take our G20 delegates to Gulmarg and show them its scenic beauty but due to time constraint it may not happen this time.
Friends, I want to inform you another amazing fact about grass-root level empowerment. All 4292 Panchayats in Jammu Kashmir have a Youth Club to seize the opportunity globalization has to offer. We have set up a dedicated department, Mission Youth to help young men and women to achieve their dreams and build a vibrant society free from fear, discrimination and exploitation.
Under the guidance of Hon’ble Prime Minister, we have taken a very wide range of decisions to accelerate the implementation of mega infrastructure projects, modernization of health, agriculture, energy sector, and brought transparency and accountability in the governance system to script a new chapter of growth in Jammu Kashmir.
Jammu Kashmir is future ready. And, Jammu Kashmir is ambitious. Our multi-sectoral achievements reflect that. We are registering a new start-up every other day. In the last four years, we have registered 7.7 lakh new entrepreneurs, which roughly means that per day 527 youth started their entrepreneurial journey to contribute to their individual and Jammu Kashmir’s growth.
And, this is not all. We are ensuring fast industrial development to bring rapid social transformation. On an average, we are receiving 7 to 8 applications every day from different industrial houses from India and abroad, who are willing to set up their facilities here. In 2022, on an average one industry became operational per day.
In a very short span of time, we are advancing towards building a digital society. We are offering more than 450 public services in online mode. Our entire administration is paperless.
Let me fill you with some data. In 2022, Jammu Kashmir recorded 1.2 million e-transactions per day. In the first 4 month of 2023, we have recorded 2.3 million e-transactions which is higher than many other states. With more than 150 higher education institutions, two central universities, seven state universities and by establishing all premier educational institutions, Jammu Kashmir is ready to contribute to India’s knowledge economy.
Our speed to execute projects post 2019 has gone up by 10 times. In 2018, 9229 projects were completed whereas in the last financial year, we have completed 92,560 projects. We are building an effective and efficient rural infrastructure. The number and fast-paced developments show our resolve to build Aatm-Nirbhar Jammu Kashmir.
We are working with innovative approaches to exploit our strength and empower our farmers. With sustained efforts in the last 2-3 years while managing pandemic, Jammu Kashmir figures in the top five states of the country in terms of monthly farm income. We are implementing 29 projects worth Rs.5013 crore, to increase farmer’s income by 4 times in the next five years. We are number one in terms of production of saffron, apple, walnut and almond in India, and industries in processing and value additions will provide new height to Jammu Kashmir.
Let me go beyond these impressive figures to narrate you the quiet transformation taking place at the level of women led enterprises. More than 6 lakh women entrepreneurs through self-help groups are reaching global scales in terms of quality and output. Jammu Kashmir is becoming a centre and export hub for diverse goods, from agricultural products to handicrafts to horticulture produce. All these strengths have resulted in a greater integration with the global market, which has helped us to lay foundation for even better prospects ahead.
I have outlined socio- economic achievements of Jammu Kashmir in some detail with a wish that it captures news mind and space tomorrow. These achievements also show that we are firmly resolved to continue with the reform process and accelerated development in every sector. Friends, this is just the beginning of the turnaround of Jammu Kashmir, the crown of incredible India. I remember Sri Aurobindo had once said and I quote-
“The sun of India’s destiny would rise and fill all India with its light and overflow India and overflow Asia and overflow the world.”
Once again, I thank you all for giving us this opportunity to host you and I hope you all will have a memorable stay here in Srinagar.