Integrative Studies 49301
The role of re-branding tourism and business opportunities in reviving Kashmir’s
By Parag Agarwal
28 April 2005
1. Introduction to research need
The region and state of Jammu and Kashmir is no longer famous its heavenly beauty. It is known
worldwide as a region of terror, instability, poverty and uncertainty. Uncertainty in the minds of its
peoples whether the disputed region over which India and Pakistan have fought three wars in 40
years will ever be granted a permanent identity and a sense of belonging.
There is no standard viewpoint, quite naturally on the history or cause of the dispute. Pakistan
and its sympathisers argue that India forcibly occupied the region in 1947 through the ‘pretence’
of an Instrument of Accession in which the Maharaja of Kashmir requested Indian military help to
quell popular insurgency and subsequently agree to become part of India. Pakistan, however,
claims that the Instrument of Accession was subject to a plebiscite which never took place and
that majority of Kashmiris want to become Pakistanis. India claims a plebiscite could not take
place because Pakistan refused to withdraw from Kashmir and continued supporting the freedom
struggle through illegal means. India also believes it has a sovereign right to the territory as
Kashmir is integral to their homeland.
Apart from the great number of lives lost since the freedom insurgency began in 1989, the West
believes that economic development in the region has been slow due to falling tourist numbers
(terrorist activity and state restrictions on movement) and administrative delays/barriers in helping
or promoting new businesses. However, some reports claim that Jammu and Kashmir (Indian
Occupied Kashmir ) is the least poor of all states in India with a rate of poverty of 3.6% compared
to the 26% average for the whole country. The average Kashmiri gets 8-10 times more than an
average Indian citizen in aid or subsidies (Mahesh, 2002).
Still, there is no doubt that without the conflict with Pakistan, Kashmir would be much better off
today. However, has the state government been proactive and done enough to attract foreign
investment and tourists? Is it simply enough, as stated above to flood the region with money to
develop large scale infrastructure projects or alleviate poverty through state grants? Western
perception/attitudes are important to attract much needed foreign investment/trade opportunities
in the region. At the same time, the concept of development in the minds of many Kashmiris may
not lie in material gains. Therefore, research needs to be done to understand how Jammu and
Kashmir is currently positioned and viewed internationally and what could be done to re-brand
tourism and business opportunities to improve the current standard of living and pave the way for
the prosperity and security of future generations as well.
Thankfully, international opinion in recent times has been focused on a quick and practical
solution to the political deadlock rather than on the debate on the finer points of law, history or
moral rights. With the recent decline in military activity and India and Pakistan warming up to
each other for a considerable length of time in decades, the window of peace has never been
more attractive. Now is the best time to aggressively think about long term economic issues as
core issues. Waiting for a perfect political solution to the conflict may be too late in the day to
revive Kashmir’s fortunes.
According to the Strategic Foresight Group (New Delhi), Kashmir lost 27 million tourists between 1989
and 2002 losing £2.06 billion in potential revenues.
In 1949, with the intervention of the United Nations, India and Pakistan defined a ceasefire line ("Line of
Control") that divided the two countries. Indian-occupied Kashmir is 95,356 sq kms. while Pakistan
controls 1/3 of the region with 56,003 sq kms. known as Azad (Independent) Kashmir.
2. Objectives of research
This section will outline the objectives of the research. The title of the intended research itself is
multi-faceted and provides guidance as to what the research could entail: The role of re-branding
tourism and business opportunities in reviving Kashmir’s fortunes. The key words include ‘re-
branding’ as in marketing, image, perception; ‘tourism’ and ‘business’ to reflect the non-political
environment that needs development, or needs to be clearly communicated to the world if it is
already growing fast; ‘opportunities’ to point towards the future and finally ‘fortunes’ that needs to
be defined as the goal of economic/social development may not just lie within the realm of
More specifically and comprehensively, the objectives are:
To clearly understand in what way past efforts, mainly local government driven,
have worked or failed in promoting the region. It will be assumed at the beginning
of the research that the impetus behind nation (read region) branding must
mainly come from the state.
To provide extensive material for government, and private bodies to portray the
talents, beauty, skills and culture of the region in a positive and reassuring
manner to the world to attract more foreign investment and tourists, both from
within and outside India. This would include audio-visual, film, photographs of
interviewees and elements of storytelling.
To provide insights into what are the true non-political (entrepreneurial, social
development) aspirations of Kashmiris and whether these can be realistically
peeled away from political considerations. If not, is it worthwhile to conjure up a
positive, proactive re-branding campaign as a viable mechanism to attract
confidence in the region in spite of the political wrangling and on going violence?
Can branding be implicit, low-key, underground, yet highly pervasive and hugely
To suggest basic worst-case scenario operation guidelines if terrorist activity
escalates or the political situation deteriorates to the point where they heavily,
and negatively impact upon promotional or branding efforts.
This research will NOT be
An attempt at a referendum as to whether Kashmiris prefer Pakistan or India in
spite of surveying the sample’s non-political aspirations that may be inextricably
linked to the current and future unstable political reality. Although external politics
will be ignored, political ambition geared towards internal, regional development
that is separate (or potentially could be) from the politics of external bilateral
disputes will be central to the objectives stated above.
A comprehensive brand consulting exercise. Instead, the research will determine
what could work and point towards issues that need to be addressed.
About Azad Kashmir (controlled by Pakistan) and thus not take into account
attitudes and development across the border as the research will be directed and
focused on India and towards Indian efforts.
Potentially, future guidance and direction for 3 issues not within the scope of this research could
materialise: i) The population’s political aspirations and the impact on image, ii) external relations
with Pakistan, politics, diplomacy (such as cricket) and the impact on image and iii) what kind of
commitment the state and central government needs to give towards formalising or making the
concept of nation (state) branding more professional and focused.
3. Basic literature review and information grid
There is extensive literature available on the Internet alone on the military standoff in Kashmir,
terrorist activity and violence and the political agendas of both India and Pakistan. However,
factual information and analysis related to the conflict or economic and development issues are
biased and reflect the interests of a particular group (Pro Pakistan, Pro India, Western
indifference etc.). Apart from the official Jammu and Kashmir government website
(http://jammukashmir.nic.in) that is not overly preachy, but makes an attempt to portray the region
in its totality (cultural heritage, tourist paradise, industrial scenario, attempts at normalcy), a Delhi
independent think-tank, the Strategic Foresight Group (http://strategicforesight.com) has worked
very hard over the years to objectively and strategically analyse the cost of the conflict,
development issues and the future geo-political agendas for both India and Pakistan. Till date,
they have published 8 books on Kashmir and related Indo-Pak diplomacy. In spite of the non-
political nature of the research, their unbiased and comprehensive vault of data collated
systematically could prove invaluable beyond just background reading.
For initial reading, theoretical information on nation branding, economics of development, human
development indexes etc. needs to be sought. Primary information would include the attitudes,
perceptions and aspirations of Kashmiris and the real future political ambition of local
government. Secondary information would include tourist board figures and publicly released
information on the state of business and industry in Jammu and Kashmir.
The need for diverse and wide-ranging information, especially for initial reading can be organised
systematically into an information grid. An example of a likely source is also stated next to the
type of information sought, in relation to each objective. Issues related to the timescale will be
dealt with in greater detail in the final section. To give a complete overview, information needed
for all the objectives will be analysed.
Concepts/Search Keywords/Phrases Information Likely Source
Nation Branding Definition, benefits, Theoretical Academic journals/ interview
and its evolution empirical evidence experts
The meaning of Practical definition, Mainly primary/ Interviews on the ground
economic consensus? Ladakhi, Observational substantiated by larger
development Buddhist values vs. studies on cultural
material gains differences/development
Current state of Numbers, spending, Secondary for State Tourism Board, J&K
tourism projects (length and absolute figures. government website,
breadth), private vs. Mainly primary Interviews with businesses in
social development, for direct main markets
success vs. failure correlation
effort and impact
Current state of GDP, Productivity Secondary for Ministry of Trade, J&K
business growth, Foreign Direct absolute figures. government website,
Investment, sector Mainly primary Interviews with businesses in
specific, success vs. for direct main markets
effort and impact
Current state of Western media Contextual Indian military websites/
political, military and reporting and Ministry of Defence, Western
terrorist activity contribution towards media (impact on image)
Branding Efforts Past campaigns, Unlikely to be Archived media reports,
locally and abroad, secondary apart trade publications, State
future plans? from official Tourism Board
Political will Past and future, Primary, National magazines like
ambition, tourism and secondary Outlook, India Today,
industry maybe sensitive commentaries in Financial
information liable Times, Economic Times
to be biased
World Current and future, Secondary, also Interviews with foreign
Perception/Attitude correlation with self- primary through businesses/ embassies in
esteem and desire to observation in Kashmir substantiated by
succeed within Kashmir quantitative secondary data
Kashmiris on growth of foreign
business if any
Local Attitudes Kashmiris towards Primary Interviews across region,
personal security, and profession and income
peace levels. Sample size of 40.
economy and work
Local Perceptions Kashmiris of their Primary Same as above plus man
place in India, World; and woman on the street.
development, Unlimited sample size.
and growth prospects
Local Aspirations Future, youth and their Primary Spending time with youth
traditions vs. modern groups in colleges around
beliefs the region
4. Research Methods
This section will further elaborate on the sources of information in the information grid in relation
to each objective and justify the methods to be used.
Past government efforts in promoting region
Type of research: Conclusive/descriptive (what, where, when, how)
Sub-topics: Brand and Tourism campaigns locally (India) and abroad, Political will, Consequence
Brand and Tourism campaigns: The first step would be to look at archived media reports,
(local and national) and trade publications that often tie in government tourist initiatives to
make the region look more attractive to businesses. An attempt could also be made to
contact the state tourism board directly. Given the nature of state bureaucracy and
scepticism in India, especially in a sensitive region like Kashmir, if the expected response
can be predicted to be overwhelmingly welcoming and cooperative in nature, then the
tourism board should be contacted first to save time researching secondary sources.
Political Will: The Indian media is considered one of the largest and most transparent,
though national magazines are expected to harbour a slight political bias. Nevertheless,
the best sources of information to understand the political will behind promotion of the
state can come from magazines such as Outlook, India Today etc. that feature
exhaustive commentaries on politics. Former ministers seeking some news coverage and
an outlet to voice their opinion (mainly disgust at losing the last election) are another easy
source to get a behind the scenes and alternative view on past political agendas.
Consequence/current state of tourism, business, and terrorism: Apart from terrorist
activity, which is an exogenous factor (information on the number of dead Pakistani
terrorists are nevertheless displayed proudly on the military website), the impact of past
branding and promotional efforts, through direct correlation on tourism and business is
more difficult to determine. To understand direct correlation, businesses, including
tourism dependent must be interviewed in relation to local efforts and gains in business
over time. A fairly comprehensive view can be obtained if all regions of Kashmir are
covered and if businesses in the main markets of each town are interviewed.
To provide extensive material to portray talents, beauty, skills and culture of region
Type of research: Exploratory/Observational
Not exactly requiring any research, this particular objective is a means to achieving other
research objectives. It will involve taking photographs, filming and recording interviews. Kashmiri
folk are normally very hospitable and allow themselves to be photographed. However, caution
and prior permission will be taken during and after the research is completed when passing the
material over to state or private bodies. Religious sensitivity and national security issues (bridges,
dams) are the main impediments. Where possible, filming and photographs of interviewees will
only commence after the interview to maintain comfort levels and gain genuine insights and
answers. Therefore, along with the freelance and spontaneous nature of such activity, planning is
a must to prioritise obtaining objective driven information first. Perhaps, a separate leg of
expedition solely for the purpose of filming/photographing would be needed.
To provide insights into what are the true non-political aspirations of Kashmiris
Type of research: Exploratory/Observational. Primary Data.
Sub-topics: Local attitudes, local perceptions, and local aspirations
Local Attitudes: What do Kashmiris think of their personal security and of peace when
going about their daily lives? What entrepreneurial and social development ambitions do
they harbour with such attitudes in parallel? To determine subjective feelings like fear,
anxiety or optimism and hope in an unstable, highly militarised and highly politicised
region, it is important to build trust and faith amongst the sample interviewed. Information
collection cannot be expected to be structured and a lot of inferences have to be made
from body language and gestures. Therefore, observation skills are very important. Video
footage and audio samples, if permitted, can also help point out anything that was
missed. Indian hospitality does not permit one to enter one’s house solely for an
interview. Even for a little while, a relationship must be developed, out of love from the
family’s point of view and out of practical considerations (comfort levels) from the
interviewer’s point of view. Therefore, the qualitative data generated will be from a small
sample, but exhaustive and highly insightful. To compensate, the sample will be highly
representative, across regions, professions and income levels. Realistically, about 40
households could be interviewed, mainly in their homes. Interviews would begin with
general political discussions (because it is easier to discuss politics first to set the tone)
and then with the help of several open-ended prompts and questions, guide the
discussion towards more personal ambitions, attitudes and emotions.
Local Perceptions: To determine what Kashmiris perceive of themselves, of their place
within India and the world, apart from the 40 representative households, the common
man and woman can be asked on the spot and an immediate answer can be expected. In
a free, democratic environment, the Indian psyche has uniquely developed to be very
forthcoming in its views on just about anything under the sun. The author’s personal
experience consists of an entire audio cassette of animated views from almost everyone
in a train carriage travelling from Mumbai to Delhi when he posed as an All-India Radio
reporter. The use of discreet audio recording would be the most practical and ethical as
respondent’s anonymity would remain. The respondent’s age and general background, if
possible to infer would be noted immediately afterwards. It is important not to carry a
large microphone on the street as another feature of the Indian psyche is unwarranted
curiosity. The sample size for this part of the research objective could be unlimited as
only a few questions will be asked at a time and can be asked anytime, anywhere during
the researcher’s travels.
Local Aspirations: The current generation of youth are expected to play prominent
leadership roles by the time peace returns to the region permanently. To understand the
aspirations of the younger generation is to get a peek into how the Valley is expected to
develop in the future. To avoid getting politically correct or extremely ambitious and
heroic views (equally plausible), a significant amount of time must be spent with this
group. Casual and observational research of groups and individuals over a week in the
main cities and towns in the region is needed, instead of directly asking questions. Initial
discomfort and feelings of consciousness can be overcome in a matter of hours as the
researcher himself is a youth fluent in Hindi. The target group would be college students
as by this age, it is expected that many would have thought about their future and what
kind of stakes lie ahead.
To provide worst-case scenario operation guidelines
Type of research: Analytical/Summation and Primary Data (World perceptions/attitudes)
Sub-topics: National perceptions/attitudes, World perceptions/attitudes
National perception/attitudes: Tying the third objective to what is already known about
attitudes/perceptions towards the region at the national level, this part of the research
entails analysing what personality the non-political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir
shapes up to be. Several themes for every aspect of Kashmiri life from tradition, and
culture to the local citizen’s modern attitudes and personalities can be conveyed through
a pro-active brand campaign targeted for the Indian audience. Test messages could be
sent out to prominent commentators and journalists with a Kashmir focus to garner
feedback into the effectiveness of the themes portrayed. As the scope of this research is
NOT the creation of the brand campaign, it will only focus on broad themes that can
potentially help to boost tourism and business through a renewed positive image.
World perception/attitudes: Similar to the methodology used above, but with greater
emphasis on government efforts, infrastructure and security issues. Interviews and
quotes from prominent officials in foreign embassies and businesses in the region need
to be sought on the attractiveness of the region, both in terms of business and tourism.
Gaining access at the foreign diplomatic level will be less of a problem if the request is
routed through the foreign country’s ministry for external affairs. Verbatim quotes will
carry the greatest credibility. Information for this part can be summated with secondary
data on the growth and success of foreign businesses if any.
5. Expected timetable and planned phases
Phase 1 (0 to 4 weeks) United Kingdom
Theoretical and secondary data collection from the Internet. Interviewing academic experts on
nation branding and gaining guidance for further direction and sources.
Organising theoretical and secondary information. Check validity of objectives. Update
Calling up organisations related to Jammu and Kashmir in UK. Information on families and
contact details. Contact as many families as possible to be interviewed. Contact host families in
each of the 14 districts. Contact media partner/sponsor if arranged locally.
Contact travel agent in Delhi. Arrange for transport to the region. Confirm security clearance, if
required. Purchase bullet-proof jacket and other essential items.
On going collection and review of Western and Indian news reports on the region.
Phase 2 (Week 4 to Week 8) Travel to Kashmir and Film/Photography
Travel to India, arrive in Mumbai
Arrive in Mumbai. Contact journalists/experts around the country that are willing to help with later
stages of research.
Travel to Srinagar. Contact media partner/sponsor, collect film/photography equipment.
Travel around region for 4 weeks discreetly and unobtrusively filming, taking photographs and
randomly interviewing people on buses, trains, boats and on the street. Get a feel for the place.
Phase 3 (Week 6 to Week 12) Overlap with travels, collection of primary and
secondary information from State bodies. Engage with youth.
Meet state tourism officials and visit industrial/trade bodies in various cities and towns. Collect
information on tourist/business figures. Also meet foreign embassy officials and businesses.
Engage with youth from Week 7 onwards on return leg of journey. Collect primary information
from casual observation.
Phase 4 (Week 12 to Week 16) Household interviews
Stay at host family’s home in Srinagar and interview 2-3 families in Srinagar district.
Sort out travel plans for each of the 13 other districts: Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Doda,
Jammu, Kargil, Kathua, Kupwara, Leh, Pulwama, Poonch, Rajouri and Udhampur
Travel to each of the 13 other districts, staying with and interviewing host family along with 1-2
others depending on availability.
On going reading/collection of news articles from magazines such as Outlook, India Today etc.
Ongoing drafting of findings.
Phase 5 (Week 16 to Week 19) Return to Mumbai, preliminary organisation of
Return to Mumbai and organise/analyse information after substantiating with new information
from national news sources.
Prepare draft brand themes from findings
Prepare audio-visual material to append and support themes. Send out material to experts and
journalists around the country.
Incorporate feedback into findings.
Phase 6 (Week 19 to Week 21++) Return to UK.
Return to UK and share preliminary information with supervisor and academic experts.
Organise and re-interpret data if necessary or substantiate with latest developments
Prepare final report
Edit film with help from professional editors. Select photographs to be used.
Detailed Bibliography (includes references)
Text of the Instrument of Accession and Indian and Pakistani view on conflict
15 Corps, Indian Army. (2004). Instrument of Accession. Army in Kashmir. Available: URL
http://www.armyinkashmir.org/v2/hist_persp/inst_of_accession.shtml Last accessed 10th April
Promotion of tourism across borders
Bhatt, Sheela. (16th April 2005). India moots 7 CBMs on Jammu and Kashmir. Rediff.com.
Available: URL http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/apr/16mush9.htm . Last accessed 16th April 2005.
General information on Jammu and Kashmir (Indian-occupied)
Directorate of Information. (). various webpages. Jammu and Kashmir Government. Available:
URL http://jammukashmir.nic.in/welcome.html Last accessed 15th April 2005
History of Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistani sympathisers’ perspective)
Hanif, Gharib. (2002). History of Jammu and Kashmir. Ummah. Available: URL
http://www.ummah.org.uk/kashmir/history.htm . Last accessed 10th April 2005.
Summary of Western media reaction after Kargil war
India Focus. (August 1999). India after Kargil: Diplomacy and Politics. India Focus. Available:
URL http://www.indiastrategy.com/aug99dip.htm . Last accessed 13th April 2005
Jammu and Kashmir Socio-economic figures (unverified)
Mahesh. (22nd November 2002). All about Kashmir. Indian Ink Forums. Available: URL
http://indianink.net/forums/General/posts/2771.html Last accessed 10th April 2005
The end of conflict over land
News report. (21st March 2005). India, Pak war over water likely. Rediff.com. Available: URL
http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/mar/21pak.htm . Last accessed 21st March 2005.
The future of conflict and past impact of conflict
SFG. (2005). Cost of conflict between India and Pakistan. Strategic Foresight Group. Available:
URL http://www.strategicforesight.com/conflict.htm . Last accessed 10th April 2005
Indo-Pak borders reopening, the prospect of conflict resolution and peace
Singh Onkar. (26th March 2005). 'I didn't go to convert Musharraf'. Rediff.com. Available: URL
http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/mar/26mush.htm . Last accessed 26th March 2005.