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.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Anatomy of the Loss: Adding up Economic Losses During Periods of Anarchy

Kashmiris do not feel the full pain of economic loss because the State budget is mostly contributed by the Indian taxpayer. Anywhere else, it would be a disaster. In Kashmir, it is "gimme time" ....

Valley loses Rs 6000 Cr in 40 days

Srinagar: The ongoing agitation and subsequent clamping of curfew in the Valley has given a big jolt to the State’s economy with experts estimating a loss of over Rs 6000 crore during the past 40-day turmoil.

“Cumulatively, we have suffered an economic loss of Rs 150 crore every day in all the sectors including business and service sectors. This makes Rs 6000 crore loss to the Valley during the past 40 days of agitation and curfew,” said Shakeel Qalander, President Federation Chambers and Industries, Kashmir.

Kashmir is reeling under intense protests, demonstration and curfew for the past 40 days from the nine days protests on the land transfer row to the present weeklong imposition of curfew after the people in Valley rose against the economic blockade which subsequently turned into a mass uprising and huge rallies for Azadi (freedom).

This has not been only time when Kashmir witnessed shutdown, protests and curfews but traders claim they have suffered losses not only in these 40 days but since 1947.And, as the government is compensating the traders in Jammu for the losses they suffered in two months of shutdown on land transfer issue, Kashmiri traders are claiming losses incurred since 1947.

“It is not the case of losses our traders incurred in past 40 days only. We have been suffering losses since 1947. Our case is bigger than the case of Jammuites and it will continue till the solution of Kashmir dispute is lingering. If the government will call us, we will claim the losses we have incurred since 1947,” said Mubeen Shah, President Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries. He said that the Kashmir traders suffered a loss of 1,837 days from 1990 to 1998.

Noted economist of the Valley, Prof Nisar Ali said that the losses that the State is incurring during the ongoing crisis sums up to half of this year’s state budget, which he said is Rs 18,500 crore.“Each day, we are suffering Rs 30 crore losses in retail transactions and Rs 20 crore in salaries (as government has to pay salary of all these days when there was no work) and there are almost equal losses in other sectors like tourism, handicrafts, horticulture, health, pharmaceutics and industries. “These losses go beyond Rs 6000 crore in a month,” he said adding this is almost half of the state’s annual budget.

The business turnover in the Valley of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) is Rs 1800 crore. However, due to ongoing agitation business of 1.35 lakh traders associated with FMGC trade has suffered tremendously. “Our trade got totally crumpled. We do not have stocks available here not are the stocks coming from outside. We have incurred 100 percent losses,” said Jan Muhammad Koul, president of Jammu and Kashmir Traders Federation.

Like tourism and horticulture, the handloom and handicraft sector has also been hit severely. “Our loss exceeds Rs 1000 crore as we can not slip out orders. The spin dates too could not be met due to the present turmoil,” said Ali Muhammad Sherazi, handicraft dealer and president of Chamber of Commerce and Industries Kashmir (CCIK). He said that the import and export business has suffered much. ‘The main season to fill the orders in Valley’s handicraft business is July to September and we had Ramadhan orders from Gulf countries. But we could not meet those orders,” Sherazi said.

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