The picturesque Valley is all set to witness a unique brand of sporting diplomacy to consolidate efforts for restoring its status as the country’s crowning destination for tourism and fostering its socio-economic integration with the rest of the world.
The Jammu and Kashmir Government will tee off its sports-oriented diplomacy hosting a mega event in May 2010 at the newly laid out Royal Spring Golf Course. High Commissioners and Ambassadors of 70 countries based in New Delhi are set to grace the 18-hole course considered among the best in the country and bracketed among the top six in Asia.
It will not be so much as which diplomat swings his club with what grace at the par 72 track but how well they together putt outside it is what will matter most for the people of the Valley. The first expectation of them is to get the high-end tourists to the heavenly delights of the Zabarwan Mountains at Chashma Shahi, the royal springs, by which the golf course has been named.
Of course, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah strives to bring home the fact that security and political issues are well within his control with the presence of terrorists put at 700 and the decrease in terrorist incidents of violence to 395 up to September-end this year from 708 in the first nine months in 2008.
Besides, the State has set about earning its revenue not from tourism alone but actually from the mainstay of its economy --agriculture, horticulture, crafts and handicrafts. These diplomats might just inject the spur by opening up export channels for the intricately crafted products unique to the region.
The Centre has done its own spadework, an action plan that stretches beyond the next six months. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is set to visit the State later this month.
A schedule has been drawn for each departmental secretary to spend one whole day in Srinagar in November to review the progress of schemes across the State. No less than half a dozen Central Ministers were here to attend the All-India Editors’ Conference last week.
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who outlined the schedule, said that the Cabinet Secretary would take stock of the progress in February. “The officials will have to visit Srinagar as a matter of practice,” he said underlining that his time-table was to be here once in eight weeks.
One statement that caught everyone’s attention was Union Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah’s observation attributing play-up of the most trivial incident as a burning problem to the vested interest of economic lobbies across the State.
Dr. Abdullah did not elaborate, but he and the Chief Minister voiced their concern over the manner in which the alleged threat by Taliban was being played up, hampering the inflow of tourists. Sources close to the government elaborated the point charging that tour operators in Maharashtra and West Bengal deliberately ran down the Valley as a problem spot to veer the tourist away from it and force them to accept the packages offered by them.