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Sunday, 13 April 2014

My Tryst with ‘Islamic Banking in Kashmir’

It all started last year when I wrote two columns about Islamic Banking & its need in the state of J&K. There was an unprecedented flow of encouraging feedback from the subjects of J&K & the organizations working for the same cause in mainland India, who pledged to support all my endeavors in this regard. Being a member of a civil society group of Kashmir ‘KCSDS’, a colleague Mr. Shakeel Qalander, in one of our meetings, while talking about the said articles, expressed his long-term interest about Islamic banking in Kashmir and inspirited me to take up this cause seriously. He asked me to prepare a concept paper so that we could discuss it in our next meeting, which I duly did and we took it up as our agenda. 

Before we could pursue it with the J&K Bank, RBI, or Finance Ministry, I drafted a letter to the Vice Chancellor-University of Kashmir & proposed to push for the introduction of Islamic Banking course for our students, as it did not need any regulatory amendment. The draft as well as the proposal was ratified by the chairperson Prof. Hameedah Nayeem, Abdul Majid Zargar, Dr. Mubeen Ahmed Shah, Dr. Altaf Hussain, Arjimand Hussain Talib, Zahid G Muhammad, Dr. Javid Iqbal, Qurrat ul Ain, Anwar Ashai & Shakeel Qalander.

 Moreover, I had discussions with two former legal advisers of RBI, who were gracious enough to spend hours with me on the phone. After few days on Nov7th, 2013, we had a book release function at the University of Kashmir, in which my book, Mr. Zahid’s and Dr. Javid’s books were released, I was asked to speak on my project of ‘introducing Islamic Banking in Kashmir’, instead of my book. When I said that ‘I do not face compulsion of dealing with interest in the United States or the U.K, but if I want to deal with money as per the rulings of Prophet (saw) in a Muslim majority Kashmir, I don’t have an avenue’, the crowd expressed their agreement, in unison. Then, Dr. G.Q Allaqaband, Prof. G.R Malik and many more influential figures insisted that I should go ahead with this endeavor. 

Prof. Shabir Bhat, Dean Management KU, who released my book, had a discussion with all of us, regarding the benefits & increased job prospects of his students, if the course is introduced. I have known him for long & I know that he is a well-traveled person with a global thinking and shares my zest to improve the careers of the students of Kashmir. 

Fortunately, he found a merit in our proposition and arranged for our meeting with the Vice Chancellor. KCSDS delegation to the Vice Chancellor was led by chairperson Prof. Hameedah Nayeem along with me and Shakeel Qalander, in presence of Prof. Shabir Bhat. The VC was of the view that if introduction of any course helps the students to achieve more in their lives, why wouldn’t he approve it. He signed our application and copied it to Prof. Shabir Bhat, who has to take it forward. We expect the course to start very soon in Kashmir’s highest seat of learning. I am currently working on the syllabus & course structure, to be suggested to the University. As per VC, they will put it through the concerned committees to examine the curriculum, job opportunities and other aspects, and introduce the course in phases, in relevant disciplines.

 There are thousands of job openings in this sector in Gulf & the Far-east, which could be explored by our students, until they could be employed here. We have resolved that we shall work for the implementation of Islamic Banking in Kashmir, as even the present governor of RBI, when he was an adviser to the finance ministry of India, had recommended its implementation in India, in his CFSR (Committee on financial sector reforms) report. Once this project kicks off, I will know that if one really wants to do some good to his people without expecting anything in return, entering politics is not the only way.

(Greater Kashmir / 12 April 2014)
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