How to Bring about a Tech Revolution in Kashmir

How to Bring about a Tech Revolution in Kashmir
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Dr Bilal Ahmad Dar

Jamm & Kashmir has 6 lakh youth unemployed. These are mostly young adults that have graduated from universities and polytechnics or institutions of higher learning. In addition to this number, about 2 lakh others are certificate carrying youths that have no formal education, or have completed primary or secondary school, or dropped out from tertiary institutions all of which are annually poured into an already saturated labour.
Many of those youth are not productive not because they lack the qualification but because the system has not been able to impart in such individuals technical knowledge and know-how skills required to carry out entrepreneurial activities especially technologically oriented. In recent times, the concepts of entrepreneurship have been made prominent by various discussions relating to industrial development. However, it has been observed that while entrepreneurship which is the exploitation of business opportunity would bring about job creation and wealth generation, it has limitation in bringing about accelerated industrial development that will not only expand the job creation and wealth generation phenomena, but also would enable a state to compete in the frontiers of global rapid technological developments.
Thus, the concept of technological entrepreneurship has gained more and more attention among researchers, policy makers, government, scholars and firms alike. In this body of text, emphasis seemed to be placed on high-potential technology opportunities, technical systems, innovation, production and commercialization. Within this context, very little technological entrepreneurship can be said to exist in Kashmir and, indeed in many developing economies.
Entrepreneurial ventures are considered as the engines for the development of economy and nation. They are the transformation agents and knowledge resource of the nation upon who the responsibility of structured development and radical changes is there. Entrepreneurs need technology for undertaking these responsibilities. Technology as a method, tool, process or modification work as a support element for entrepreneurship development. The process of entrepreneurship involves the use of technology at every step whether it is idea generation, idea selection, resource assemblage, production and services, marketing, customer satisfaction or any other aspect related to development of enterprise.
A new technology-based venture is described as having a high potential opportunity if it is capable of creating new value for its customers, it has a significant level of technology understanding which is difficult to replicate and can often be protected (patented); it has a significant first mover advantage, it has a level of scalability, it creates a barrier to entry, and it also has a high level of initial risk which can be translated into high levels of return.
Technological entrepreneurship is described as a technology-intensive opportunity involving a process of problem solving, raising and safeguarding the quality of life, needing technical skills and applications, identifying potential market, improvement in quality of products in order to improve competitiveness of the firm with expectation of saving in process cost.
Furthermore, the sufficient reason for embarking on technological entrepreneurship is borne out of the need to commercialize significant innovations that are expected to guarantee suppliers of materials, long-term stability of firms and increase output.
Technological entrepreneurship is needed to propel technological innovation efforts into the market. Whenever there is a breakthrough in research and development. It is the place of technological entrepreneurship to commercialize the achievements of technological efforts otherwise; it remains in the laboratory without making any impact.
Policy Requirements
Many policies covering different sectors of the Kashmiri economy have been put in place to guide the development of entrepreneurship but without a concise and effective Science and Technology (S & T) policy, industrial and other related policies will only promote commerce. It is important to note also, that entrepreneurial interests among Kashmiri students are quite high but the expression of this interest in practice is rather low. The main factors found to be responsible for this are poor funding and inadequate preparation through training. A particularly key institutional weaknesses identified be expressed in the inadequacy of government support to young and aspiring entrepreneurs. In fact, until government directed all universities in the state to establish entrepreneurship centers, youth entrepreneurship has been left in the domain of agencies and non-governmental organizations.
Much has been said about entrepreneurial education and its importance in stimulating and sustaining entrepreneurship, especially among students. In implementing this, however, it is important to note that a uniform curriculum might not yield optimal results across different disciplines or levels. The design of these curricula should, therefore, consider the peculiarities of each discipline when issues and resource persons are being selected. As a necessity, entrepreneurial training initiatives should include a standardized monitoring and evaluation structure which ensures strict conformance with quality. Besides the strictly formal training, entrepreneurial advocacy is also very beneficial. Institutions, of their own conscious will should seek to organize seminars, workshops, symposia and other similar forums where students could be brought in contact with state-of-the-art knowledge in the practice of entrepreneurship. These forums also hold the benefit of encouraging the students by bringing them in contact with excelling nascent entrepreneurs. In implementing all of the foregoing recommendations, the place of a stable political atmosphere, strong institutions and sustainable funding cannot be overemphasized. Few, if any, policies and programmes would ever work in situations of chaos and scarcity of resources. It then rests on the government of the day to work sedulously at creating a crime-free and peaceful environment without which entrepreneurship, which is the vehicle of innovation, cannot succeed.
From all indications, youth unemployment is a menace in Kashmir and constitutes a real danger and a threat to social, economic, political and industrial development of the region. However; career guidance can only be a panacea for reducing the rate of youth unemployment in conjunction with technical and vocational education (TVE) and entrepreneurship. Moreover, the energy, skills and aspirations of young people are invaluable assets that no society can afford to waste and holding them to realize their full potential by gaining access to employment is a precondition for poverty eradication, sustainable development and lasting peace. No amount of career guidance will help if there are no employment opportunities, no entrepreneurial skills to facilitate self-employment and no technical and vocational skills needed for gainful employment.
Note: The above are excerpts from a paper presented (Asian Business School Delhi June 2018) at an International conference (also published in Associated Research Foundation)

The author is PhD scholar from the Jaipur National University. He can be reached at: darbilalsultan@gmail.com