Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Leather Business in J&K is Booming

Good times return for leather business

Srinagar: Leather entrepreneurs in the Kashmir Valley are a happy lot these days, as the rawhide business is experiencing a boom.

Engaged in the rawhide business since generations and living in the downtown Srinagar localities of Jamalatta and Nawa Bazaar, they constitute a very small number of people. They said that the daily turnover figures are a statistical evidence of the profitability of their business.

According to Mehrajuddin Kawa, the President of the Raw Hide Traders Association, the annual overall turnover in this business is worth millions of rupees. "If we talk about Kashmir Valley only, then at least 200-250 families are involved in this business, and that means at east 1,000 people are involved in it. The price of raw hide of sheep and goat that is being transported to other cities in the country per annum is about 200,000," Kawa claimed.

Rawhide dealers collect hides of various animals like sheep, goat, and cattle mostly from abattoirs in Srinagar and also from villages. Raw hides are tanned with a coat of non-iodised salt and other materials at various storage points from where they are segregated and transported to various places outside Kashmir. And not only those engaged in the raw hides business directly are reaping the benefits but also those ranging from the salt merchants to the transporters, everybody in the valley is banking the profits.

"The rates of Kashmiri hide are different and the hide that is available in Delhi, its rates are different. It is of two types, hide of male and hide of female. The rates of hides of both male and female are different. The rates of the hide of goat are different. A number of young people like me are involved in this business," said Manzoor Ahmad, a rawhide dealer.

Around three million pieces of rawhide are transported to different tanneries and leather factories in Delhi, Kanpur, Agra and Chennai where various leather products like jackets, boots, wallets, purses and belts are designed and made. Of course, voracious meat-eating habit of the people in the valley plays a key role in the regular supply of huge number of raw hides. Kashmir valley boasts of maximum ratio of non-vegetarians in India.

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