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, July 20, 2008

A Little Doze of Competition is Good for Improved Governance Even if it is Only a Chamber of Commerce

CCIK needs to learn from the mistakes of KCCI in order to be successful. It should focus on promotion of business without trying to have a hidden political agenda which ruined KCCI

Another Business Chamber Formed

Srinagar: A group of traders who have detached themselves from the Kashmir chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), on Saturday announced the formation of a new business body “The chambers of commerce and Industries-Kashmir (CCIK)”, alleging the KCCI of misappropriation of the finances and preferential treatment to few traders.

Launching a scathing attack on KCCI, President of the newly formed CCIK, Ali Mohammad Shirazi , said “ the old chamber, referring to nearly seventy above years old chamber, had violated the basic principles and turned old Chamber from non Profit to profit earning one, without safeguarding the interests of the trading community.” The president while talking to the Etalaat, divulged that the monetary support that the KCCi was getting from the government was not properly used for the benefits of the trading community, but were misappropriated.

On being asked for the resolutions of differing issues within the ambit of democratic environ of KCCI instead of going for another body, Sherazi said that such issues were repeatedly raised within the organisation but the managing body would not heed to them instead try to belittle us, he alleged. He said that the main aim of the CCIK would be to develop and promote trade commerce and industries in the valley and to look after the interests of artisans and labourers.“Rather than addressing the miseries of the traders in the valley, the executive body of KCCI is busy in accumulating the wealth, caring least to safeguarding the interests of the traders of the valley,” he said.

“Within a short span of time, more than 150 members have joined it and the traders from all the districts are regularly joining the chamber,” he said. Chief coordinator of CCIK, Mohammad Afzal Parray, on the occasion said that the dictatorship in the KCCI had cost the credibility of them and forcing them to depart from the Chamber. He said that the monopoly of the few people had not only weakened the foundation of the KCCI but also detracted it from the basic principles.“The pledge to watch over and protect the general commercial interests of persons engaged in the trade and commerce is on high priority of CCIK and no body would claim any special treatment”, said Parray. He said that the enormous funds that were released by the Centre from last three years for the promotion of the trade without any fruitful utilization were embezzled by few members. “Few persons in the old body have monopolized the affairs and they without any audit or accountability are indulged in looting the funds,” he said. He said that there was number of occasion when the chamber sent their own aides for the exhibitions in India and abroad without inviting the traders and select among them through consensus.”

No single member would be allowed to impose his will in decision making process of CCIK and would be passed only after the majority support about the decision to go ahead ,” he said.Secretary General of CCIK, Dr. Rafi Ahmad said that it is unfortunate that despite being 72 year old body there has been no improvement in its functioning and had even failed to get itself registered with federation of Indian chambers of commerce and industries (FICCI).

Other executive members of CCIK include, Junior Vice President, Gowher Maqbool, Joint Secretary General Showkat Hussain, Treasurer Tariq Rashid, and Chief Coordinator Mohammad Afzal Parray.

(Daily Etalaat)

A Counterpoint - Editorial in the Rising Kashmir

More than new formations we need corrections on the existing organisations

A group of valley traders recently formed a new trade body that claims to represent the problems of the trading community in a better way. As per the statement put before the media the new Chamber will try to come up to the expectations of traders community and raise issues related to horticulture, agriculture, handicrafts and other trade and industrial sectors.

They also alleged that the existing Chamber has ignored the problems of traders, further saying that some of the funds and grants from the government has made the existing Chamber subservient to the authorities. It also claims to act as bridge between the government agencies and traders fraternity of the valley. The new Chamber also put forth that the present bodies were focusing too much on exhibitions which benefits only a select group of traders, ignoring the traders at the grass roots level.

The new trade body has also expressed that they will be available to the traders and business fraternity all the six days and would be working at their own level for the benefit of traders. Given these statements by the new formulation many questions come to fore - the need for a separate trade body which as per the statements will play the same role but only under a different name, failure of existing trade bodies, democratic set up within the Chambers and trade bodies and much more. What the new trade body has articulated as big problems and reasons for new formulation are in fact simple operational issues that crop up in any organization or trade body that functions at micro or macro level.

Trade bodies in any part of the globe are rallying points for free enterprise which seek to improve businesses in changing times, shoring the competitive culture and entry into new markets outside their prime bases. But here the case is otherwise, in fact not a single trade body in Jammu Kashmir, particularly in the valley, can claim to have put in anything substantial and tangible that is relevant to the issues of business that are close to local enterprises. They miserably failed on this count. All the more they have been interested in promoting a culture of subsidies and protection from government, and do not spare a moment to voice their concerns on these fronts. Right, that we need such type of sops for the industrial and business fraternity here but do these hold any relevance in contemporary times of free economy and trade. What would have been more prudent would be to come up with a document drafting a well defined course- correction of business policies that are articulated by the government from time to time, particularly with relation to fragile nature of industry in Kashmir.

There is no committee within these trade bodies to discuss the essentials of each sector of the State economy and a platform that interfaces with the policy making institutions so as to make the government policies conducive to growth and operations of the business and industry in the State; even if there are some, the findings or observations are not provided for an open debate. It would have been much more relevant if all the chambers and trade bodies would join hands and use a well structured organization consisting of young and vibrant businessmen, economists and trader fraternity to project the real issues confronting the business fraternity of Kashmir, rather than continue with the culture of new formations.

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