WEF agenda 2018: How could J&K grapple with the future?

As world leaders gather in Davos, Switzerland, discussing some of the world’s most pressing issues

Ziraat Times engages with some of the brightest minds from Jammu & Kashmir and global experts in development and conflict transformation in trying to understand what the future holds for the state, and how it could grapple with the challenges of what is being termed as the "Fourth Industrial Revolution".

What all they have to say..

'J&K still trying to adopt to 2nd Industrial Revolution. World is talking about the 4th at Davos'

With scarcity of electric power inhibiting industrial growth, J&K is still trying to adopt to second industrial revolution, while the world is talking about the fourth industrial revolution in Davos. Our students are not taught 21st century skills that center around problem solving, critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration. These skills are central to survival during the fourth industrial revolution, characterized by transformative blurring of lines between physical, digital, and biological dimensions of life. 

The next 40 years have the potential to completely upend the social, economic, and geopolitical landscape of Kashmir and Kashmiris will be helpless spectators, unless policies are put in place now to prepare the human resources of Kashmir for the inevitable “perfect storm.” 

Political uncertainty and an unfettered use of military power to occupy the land has helped confer political power to people who do not have the skills nor the desire to help the people of Kashmir in the midst of such challenges. Without compromising on their political and human rights, people of Kashmir must demand answers from those in power to questions of policy to address these issues being discussed at World Economic Forum. They must demand policies and incentives to create food security, address climate change related impacts, and prepare human resources for a much different world than they have seen.

Tahir Qazi

(Chief executive officer at US-based iQuasar. Former Vice President at Comcast Cable. Former Director at AT&T)

'Have to build stable infrastructure and reinforce democratic rights to avert breakdowns'

Considering the humanitarian agenda of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2018, as well as the increasing fear that conflict, hunger, and disease will adversely impact millions of people again this year, it is imperative that Jammu and Kashmir build a stable infrastructure, efficient governance, and reinforce democratic rights in order to avert contributing to further global instability, major breakdowns of social and economic systems.

Historical foundations for pluralist democracy in Jammu and Kashmir were established by revolutionary actions during the 1950s. Land was taken from exploitative landlords without compensation and distributed to formerly indentured tillers of the land. This metamorphosis of the agrarian economy had groundbreaking political consequences in a previously feudal economy. With landlord rule abolished and land distributed to peasants who formed cooperative guilds, the economy started working better for all those who cultivated the land and made livings from the forests, orchards, and fish-filled waters. Mineral wealth was reserved for the betterment of the entire populace, while tillers were assured of the right to work on the land without incurring the wrath of creditors and were newly guaranteed rights to basic social and health benefits. 

Further strengthening these measures would enable our state to position itself to effectively address climate change.

The translation of a vision, which would enable us to be competitive in a globalized world, into reality requires vibrant educational institutions, which produce dynamic citizens. This would make it necessary for educators to engage in reflective action working with diverse cultural and social groups in J & K. As Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibab, observed at Davos, "A teacher should learn all the time; a teacher should share all the time. 

Education is a big challenge now - if we do not change the way we teach thirty years later we will be in trouble.”

Nyla Ali Khan

(US-based Kashmiri professor, writer and activist)

'We have to share the global vision in order to be competitive and avoid being written off'

The theme at Davos was 'Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World'. 

What else could be as fractured as our state? Not to speak of using things as artificial intelligence (AI) as previously touched up on by World Economic Forum, we are still grappling with proper use of Internet; which is considered as an important feature in driving businesses, changing economy and society. 

Among many other agendas, Davos discussed, and what is relevant to us, the geopolitical and the regional agenda. Given the geopolitical and regional landscape in which our state is caught in-between, it is apparent that we have many long jumps to make so as to catch up with the global agenda of making sustainable goals. We don’t have any serious goals yet. 

Same is true of other things as climate change, carbon credits, clean energy mechanism and immense impact that biotechnology can bring to our resource-rich state. We talk of our resources, but do not do much to capitalize on them. 

We are holding on to issues that have retarded us, taken us back by decades and further pushing us to oblivion. We have to share the global vision in order to be competitive and avoid being written off as redundant. Davos is all about racing ahead together – unfortunately, we haven’t yet taken one baby step.

Dr Sanjay Parva 

(Kashmir-born English writer, author of Words About To Fall, poet, photographer, nomad and columnist.)

'J&K has to come forward to gain its share in 175 GW renewable energy from solar, wind, etc by 2022'

While the Prime Minister of India in his key note address at 48th annual meeting of World Economic Forum, at Davos, Switzerland, asked the world leaders that if they wanted to live healthy, peaceful and prosperous life they must come to India it is to be seen how far the J&K state will be able to harvest its share from the five pillars-based development agenda of India. 

Mitigating climate change impacts, generating gainful employment and engagement of youth and use of job generating new technology are the areas where our government and leaders have to take a giant leap forward. 

The major threats which the PM has spoken about – climate change, terrorism - has already deeply impacted and devastated our state and its economy. 

Ecologically we are a very sensitive and vulnerable state but are still not adequately prepared to face the climate related disasters like floods and droughts despite having been badly impacted by them in recent past. Our state has to come forward to gain its share under competitive federalism and can be a major partner in India’s plan to draw 175 GW renewable energy from solar, wind and other sources by 2022.

Tahir Shawl

(Regional Director Kashmir, Department of Ecology, Environment & Remote sensing, J&K Government)

'Davos 2018 agenda shall guide the transformational change globally and J&K can’t be an exception'

In the era of globalization and economic interdependence, the Davos 2018 agenda shall guide the transformational change globally and J&K can’t be an exception.

The crux of the long agenda is to develop a shared narrative to improve the state of the world. The world leaders are discussing the future of everything; climate change, energy, education, food security, economy, trade, tourism etc. 

We all here, particularly the policy and decision makers, should be keenly watching the presentations, programs, and initiatives being deliberated at Davos to guide our action plans in these important matters.

The state has witnessed massive land system changes particularly since 1970s. This change is not informed or guided. With the introduction of the high-density orchard scheme recently, this change is going to be even higher in the years to come. Will this uninformed and unidirectional trend in the horticulture productivity withstand the challenges of changing economic opportunities, climate change and food security issues in future? 

Since agriculture and horticulture are the mainstay of the J&K’s rural economy, there is a need for developing an integrated vision, involving all the stakeholders, for promoting food security, environmental sustainability and economic growth in the two important sectors.

I think that the scenario about addressing the climate change issues in the entire country is dismissal. The state climate change action plans are just on the paper only. Though, at the national levels, we have eight national missions on climate change including two specifically for the Himalayan region, but the state governments are completely oblivious to the reality of climate change and its impacts on various sectors of the economy. Look at the recent J&K state budget, it doesn’t even mention the word “climate change”. Being a mountainous state, the impacts of the changing climate are already quite significant. The J&K government therefore needs to rise to the occasion and make climate change adaptation and mitigation as part of the developmental planning. There are several economic opportunities available nationally and globally like Clean Development Mechanism, Green Fund, SDG fund, and several other financial instruments which the J&K government should make full use of in promoting green growth and climate change resilience in the state. The successive governments have never taken any initiative for utilizing these economic instruments for environmental friendly infrastructure development in various sectors. 

Shakil Ahmad Romshoo

(Professor and Head, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Kashmir.)

'We need to heed to all the important paradigm shifts that the Davos summit is currently discussing'

The State of Jammu and Kashmir needs to heed to all the important paradigm shifts that the Davos summit is currently discussing, since it directly translates to threats and opportunities we observe in the local economy. 

Environment is the most important aspect of this States Survival. Everything else follows. 

I would encourage the State policies to focus on afforestation, increased regulations in constructions. Removal of all toxic materials especially the notorious test firing ranges. Sustainable higher class tourism that does not rely on number but quality and not loosing the all important opportunity in Biotechnology, which is not only environment friendly but also poised to solve the unemployment issues. 

The State should consider opening a biotech hub, that focuses on providing interest free economic and services capital to incubators that generate local employment using local talent.

Manejah Yaqub

Kashmiri-American doctor

international experts speak

"Such communities need a vision of change and adaptation that is driven through the human core where the immutable rights of each and every one of us are put before the narrow and divisive interests of the privileged few" - Ruairi McDermott

The pace of change in today’s world has reached unprecedented levels and brings with it a myriad of challenges. Climate change, the global dominance of the Silicon Valley tech giants and the swift and disturbing advance of closed door right wing politics and thinking in the west are to name a few. 

As the pace of change continues to accelerate, many parts of the world continue to grapple with chronic conflict that is grounded in poverty and inequality where the majority of people, particularly women and children, have little or no hope and can only see a future filled with despair. 

The challenge of successfully dealing with and adapting to these changes is particularly amplified in these settings where traditional norms and coping mechanisms have often been destroyed by conflict and toxic power politics. Such communities need a vision of change and adaptation that is driven through the human core where the immutable rights of each and every one of us are put before the narrow and divisive interests of the privileged few. 

We are as far away today from achieving this vision as we ever have been, but this is no reason for us to give up. Instead, we must be thankful for and use our fortunate position to find ways to help the millions of people whose entire lives continue to be so horrendously blighted by unnecessary conflict and suffering.

(The writer is an international development and conflict transformation professional) 

If you wish to share your thoughts on the outcome of the World Economic Forum and its agenda related to climate change, food security, agriculture and related issues, write to us at editor@ziraattimes.com

'As global disagreements linger, people like us would be the first sufferers of the climate changes'

Climate Change is a reality and no one can afford to look the other way. But it is also a reality that the world is presently divided over the measures to counter the threat. 

The developed world led by the US wants all countries to cut Carbon Emissions equivalently and the developing world led by China and India, citing Historical Wrong of the West, don’t want their growing economies to be restrained by commitments dictated by the US. 

‘Industrial Revolution’ of the 19th and 20th century in the West is the main reason of present Green House Gas level, but presently China and India are main contributors of Carbon Emission with the West having largely changed to high-end greener technologies unavailable or unaffordable to the East. 

In simple terms, China and India-led developing world is telling the West: “In past you screwed this planet to improve the standard of living of your people, now it’s our turn.”

And as the disagreement continues peoples like us in the Himalayan belt would be the first sufferers of the climatic changes. In my understanding, J&K must flag one issue with New Delhi for immediate attention and seek ways and means to build pressure so that this is prioritised at the national policy level. That one single most important point is conservation of our glaciers. If this is not done, we are doomed.

Shafaat Rasool Shah 

(The writer is Information Officer, J&K State Pollution Control Board and writes mainly on environmental issues. Email: shafaat.rasool@gmail.com)

'There is no doubt that the decisions taken in WEF 2018 at Davos will have an impact on Kashmir'

There is no doubt that the decisions taken in WEF 2018 at Davos will have an impact on Kashmir as well. However, there are a few factors that decide how and when.

We have already seen an atypical shift in the weather conditions in Kashmir with unexpectedly huge dry spells even in an otherwise winter season. This climate change should not come to us as a shock. We have been anticipating it for long. 

Our rivers run dry, streams have become dumpsters, forests have changed into farming land, and our hilly tourist spots into mega dust bins. 

Whatever the decisions at the WEF 2018, Kashmir needs to do its bit so that the steps taken at such important international forums become relevant on ground at national and local levels. Deforestation has been an important topic for action this year at the WEF. How have we, as a nation, performed at our local and regional level in this regard is for everyone to see. There needs to be a serious effort to not only address the looting of the green gold, agricultural and food demands but also investigate the rare biologics we once presented to the world but have or are on the verge of becoming extinct. 

An over-reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides has only harmed our fruit genotype and seriously damaged different water bodies. I personally look forward to the implementation of biotech related research in our fruit and vegetable industry for bio-based fertilizers and pesticides, new high yield fruit species, enrichment of soil biota through proper introduction of microbiological practices, detox of water bodies, etc. India has already shared what it is going to focus on. Kashmir needs to seriously think of its forests, water bodies, agriculture, biodiversity that includes wild animals, plants, and their natural habitats, glaciers, etc. 

Proper guidelines for tourists visiting environmentally fragile areas. The onus lies as much on the people as on the government. There is a strong need of inculcating the feeling of “belonging” toward our environment, agriculture, livestock and their products, forests, and our water bodies. J&K government must make a serious initiation of a couple of the topics discussed in the WEF, like deforestation, extinction of biodiversity, phosphate and nitrogen pollution, etc. and rest will follow. 

There should be an effort and a policy in place to introduce biotech-based technology into our veterinary, and agricultural domains and unlike previous schemes, a serious effort should be made to save some of Kashmir’s rare herbs and the products thereof. Politics and religion can wait, the above problems can’t.

Dr. Shabir Hassan

(Research Scientist, Harvard-MIT Division of HST and Harvard Medical School – USA shassan@bwh.harvard.edu


'We need to align our policies in the energy sector with the changing world dynamics'

India’s continued thrust on renewables (175 GW by 2022) both at domestic and international forums must act as a catalyst for J&K government to act. 

We need to align our policies in the energy sector with the changing world dynamics and in line with the national priorities. Pumped storage capacities will play a greater role as renewable penetration increases. Also, J&K has a huge solar potential and evacuation lines need to be made ready so that solar can be installed at the earliest through competitive bidding.

Iqbal Hakim

(Engineer and researcher based in the UK)

'We are very fast running away from food security'

Climate change is the outcome of playing with and disturbing our overall environment and  ecosystem. We are here much ahead in doing so. Hence, we are to face the harmful effects of climate change.

We are very fast running away from food security. With each passing day we are becoming dependent by converting agricultural land into houseculture.

Here we cannot dream of 4th Industrial revolution which needs hassle free supply of all inputs and resources. Without effective efficient communication system and connectivity can we think of 4th over here.You need 24x7 power supply which we don't have.

In the field of biotechnology we just need a boost. We have not so far been able to establish a single tissue culture lab not to talk of commercial tissue culture.

Dr. Naqash Sarwar 

(Former Director, Department of Floriculture, Govt of J&K)

Use of digital tools along with microbial technologies have potential to increase crop yields to 50%

As we all know, use of digital tools along with microbial/digital technologies have potential to increase crop yields to 50% and seed treatment developed from microbes has increased the yield with nitrogen limitations. 

It was in this context that I have recommended use of Lignite coal as an alternate to chemical fertiliser urea.

Abdul Majid Butt

(World-renowned geologist and researcher)

There is a dire need of growing more trees to reduce pressure on existing forests

People's participation would play a vital role in conservation of environment. There is a dire need of growing more trees to reduce pressure on existing forests and protected areas.  Urban areas need to protect its green  cover while as in rural areas plantation of more trees along farm land needs to be encouraged. Hopefully it will bring down the dependency on forests and maintain balance in environment.

Manzoor Wangnoo 

Chairman, Nigeen Lake Conservation Organisation (NLCO) 

world economic forum 2018: food for J&K's thought

As World Economic Forum Annual Meeting kicks off in Davos, Switzerland, Ziraat Times brings to its readers an exclusive coverage of issues that should interest Jammu & Kashmir. We will talk about the issues being discussed, their impact on developing world in general and India and Jammu & Kashmir in particular. We will have a special focus on climate change, food security and agriculture.

The theme of the World Economic Forum in Davos this year is “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.” The official program features more than 400 sessions over four days (Jan. 23-26), heavy on the economic and geopolitical abstractions.

On Tuesday, the World Economic Forum (WEF) opened in the exclusive Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, with some 3,000 corporate executives, government officials and celebrities convening for the ostensible purpose of discussing this year’s theme of “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.”

The gathering is overshadowed, however, by the accelerating fracturing of the global capitalist order, manifested in unprecedented levels of social inequality in every country, a sharp growth in trade war and the ever more immediate threat of an eruption of armed conflict, including nuclear war, between the major powers.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi...

...quoted the Upanishads, saying Indians consider the world one big family. The PM also had a message and a challenge for Indians and India Inc. He set the target of $5 trillion by 2025: an ambitious goal that requires India to nearly double in eight years.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi arrived in Davos on Tuesday.

The prime minister will also participate in a WEF session — titled “The Belt and Road Impact” — today at 1:15pm PST.

Unfolding agenda

Food Security

By 2050, a global population of 9.8 billion will demand 70% more food than is consumed today. Feeding this expanded population nutritiously and sustainably will require substantial improvements to the global food system – one that provides livelihoods for farmers as well as nutritious products for consumers.

The mission of the World Economic Forum’s System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Food Security and Agriculture is to build inclusive, sustainable, efficient and nutritious food systems through leadership-driven, market-based action and collaboration, informed by insights and innovation, in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.

How can the world achieve inclusive economic growth while combating climate change and other natural resource challenges? The global environment and economic security are indelibly intertwined, with increasing greenhouse gases, environmental degradation and natural-resource depletion putting sustainable growth and existing business models at risk.

The World Economic Forum’s System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security brings together leading experts and practitioners to provide systems leadership, curate platforms for multi-dimensional cooperation and engage in focused interventions. The System Initiative aims to: 

improve the effectiveness of the international community’s response to environmental challenges; 

support public-private action that accelerates the climate action agenda, improves ocean health, realizes deforestation-free supply chains, enables more water-secure economies and helps unlock a trillion-dollar opportunity in the circular economy; and 

explore how Fourth Industrial Revolution innovations can be harnessed to address environmental issues, including redefining what effective global environmental governance looks like. 

WEF 2018: It is the King Khan again! Shah Rukh Khan receives the Crystal Award

Shah Rukh Khan was awarded the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum 2018 that is currently underway in Davos, Switzerland. The superstar was awarded this humanitarian award along with Sir Elton John and Cate Blanchett, for his efforts to rehabilitate acid attack survivors through his non-profit organisation, Meer Foundation.

Shah Rukh Khan took the stage and delivered an acceptance speech that was seamlessly in line with the superstar's wit and charm. Right after taking the stage, the actor asked Cate Blanchett and Sir Elton John for a selfie. "There, I have embarrassed my children," he said.

the debate at Davos

We can sustainably feed the world

David Perry 

President and Chief Executive Officer, Indigo Agriculture Inc.

In the first half of the twentieth century, a ballooning population was threatening global food security. We responded to this threat in the decades after the second world war, during a period we now refer to as the Green Revolution

This period was defined by the adoption and sweeping use of four agricultural technologies: plant breeding, synthetic fertilizers, crop chemicals and, beginning in the mid-90s, genetically modified traits. Alongside these technologies came changes to the supply chain: we began to treat many crops like commodities and, with the expanded use of grain elevators and railways, were able to store and transport harvests in bulk.

Agricultural output increased and a global food crisis was avoided, but it came at a cost. There was a proliferation of unsustainable practices in agriculture, and a wedge was driven between farmers and end-consumers, who became increasingly isolated from one another in this commoditized supply chain.

In our quest to produce enough calories for the growing population, we made a fundamental trade-off in regard to consumer and environmental health.

More farmers entered the commodity market, producing generally non-perishable, storable and transportable crops, which were assumed to meet generic commodity quality standards (standard weight, damage, contamination, etc). In a commodity grain market, farmers sell their crops at elevators, where they receive payments based on quantity produced (the market price per bushel). Their crops are then blended with other farmers’ crops, without regard to source, seed or the process by which they were grown. This system provides little incentive to farmers to invest in process or quality, as they are paid primarily for quantity. The result is an overall decrease in the quality of our food and the sustainability of our agricultural management practices.

Today, though, microbial and digital technologies have emerged that have the potential to free us from these trade-offs. Seed treatments developed from plant microbes, for example, have demonstrated the ability to increase yields under stressful growing conditions, such as drought, nitrogen limitation or pest infestation. While in many ways acting like their synthetic chemical counterparts, these products are discovered in nature and re-introduced to crops where they are most needed. In time, microbial products have the potential to replace the bulk of synthetic fertilizers and chemical insecticides used today.

Digital technologies have the potential to revolutionize decision-making both on the farm and by the consumer. Between planting and harvesting a crop, farmers have to make dozens of decisions. Which crop should they plant? What seed should they use? What is the right planting density? Planting depth? Today, though, farmers rarely have enough information to make data-based decisions. Precision agriculture, based around the adoption of software and data tools on the farm, has the potential to optimize nearly every decision that a farmer makes. Digital tools can also help connect consumers more meaningfully to farmers, fostering understanding and support for the production methods they use.

Taken together, microbial and digital technologies have the potential to raise crop yields by over 50% in the next two decades. Such increases in productivity will allow for farmers to meet demand from a growing population, freeing us from the need to increase yields at any cost. When this happens, farmers will be able to differentiate their products by quality and method. Crop production will move from a paradigm of commoditization to one of specialization. In this paradigm, farmers are incentivized not only to increase yields, but also to deliver the types of sustainable and healthy crops that consumers value.

Although this vision may seem farfetched for the entrenched commodity agriculture industry, there is already evidence that it can work. The vertically integrated supply chains used in the coffee and cocoa sectors, for example, demonstrate the establishment of specialized markets that benefit both farmers and consumers.

(Courtesy: World Economic Forum)

Strengthening global food systems

The Strengthening Global Food Systems project seeks to provide insight and support action toward more inclusive, sustainable, efficient and nutritious food systems, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. This project sits within the System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Food Security and Agriculture, a leading effort credited by Harvard University and others as a pioneer in driving change in food systems through system leadership in multistakeholder and market-led approaches. The project will strengthen leaders' decision-making, provide a platform for coordinated action, and drive greater innovation in the agriculture sector, including through Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies by: 

  • Developing new insights on global food systems, including through the Innovation with a Purpose workstream which focuses on how technology and innovation can be leveraged to address challenges in food systems
  • Facilitating multistakeholder dialogues related to food systems transformation
  • Mobilizing leadership and expertise to achieve agriculture-sector transformation through the Transformation Leaders Network which engages over 150 action leaders and experts to exchange knowledge, best practices, and experience across regions and sectors. The Network aims to enhance the positive impacts of New Vision for Agriculture-affiliated partnerships, promote leadership development and strengthen multi-stakeholder collaboration. 

New vision for agriculture

How can the world nourish 9.8 billion people by 2050 through sustainable practices? Food systems do not currently provide nutritious food in an environmentally sustainable way to the world’s population. Nearly 800 million people are undernourished while 1.2 billion are overweight or obese. At the same time, food production, transportation, processing and waste are putting unsustainable strain on environmental resources. 
The New Vision for Agriculture (NVA), defined by World Economic Forum partners in 2009, holds that to meet the world’s needs, sustainable agriculture must simultaneously deliver food security, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity. Achieving those goals requires a transformation of the agriculture sector, leveraging market-based approaches through a coordinated effort by all stakeholders, including farmers, government, civil society and the private sector. The key success factors of agriculture-sector transformation at the national level include setting the right direction through effective leadership, strategy and investment models, and scaling the transformation through finance, infrastructure, institutions and monitoring. 
The NVA engages almost 600 organizations to strengthen collaboration among relevant stakeholders. At a global level, it has partnered with the G7 and G20, facilitating informal leadership dialogue and collaboration. At the regional and country level, it has catalysed multistakeholder partnerships in 21 countries in Africa, South East Asia, India and Latin America, including Grow Africa and Grow Asia
Together, these efforts have mobilized over US $10.5 billion in investment commitments, of which US $2.5 billion has been implemented, reaching over 10.5 million smallholder farmers to date. 
Through the experience of multistakeholder partnerships in 21 countries, the NVA has developed a new model for country-led, multi-stakeholder partnerships in agriculture -- based on a shared vision, a set of guiding principles and a series of tactical steps. The NVA is sharing this model globally with practitioners and leaders as an effective example of multistakeholder approaches in agriculture in contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.