Rahul, business bigwigs keep date with Kashmir University

Keeping a year-old promise, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Friday led a group of top Indian business tycoons for an interaction with Kashmir University students in Srinagar.

Ratan Tata, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Ashok Reddy, Rajiv Bajaj and Deepak Parekh accompanied him for the panel discussion, titled 'Building Bridges' and focused on discussing career opportunities for Kashmiri youth across India.

Students cheered as the group entered the university hall after a delay of more than an hour. While there was a group from the banned Kashmir University Students' Union outside, security forces kept them at bay.

"Last September, when I came here, students asked me why top industrialists were unwilling to invest in Kashmir. Today I have brought them here to have an in-person conversation with you," Rahul told his audience. "I want you to make a future, to succeed, to be a part of the growing country."

The students had several questions for the business leaders. Anam Siraj, a business management student, asked why they were not investing to establish professional training institutes in the Valley.

Tata said they were planning to tie up with the University of Kashmir to provide training and internships to students, who might be later absorbed. Striking a personal note, he added that he felt very emotional "to be able to have a conversation with the great wealth of human capital that exists in Kashmir".

Saba, from the university's business school, asked Parekh why HDFC Bank did not provide loans to people to set up businesses. Parekh said that whenever the bank got a viable and full-planned proposal, it provided a loan.

Many students welcomed Rahul's gesture. "At least he came here and took some initiative. I think his visit will really build a good relationship," said Arabia Hamdani.

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