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

Kashmir Economic Front: The Editorial in the Rising Kashmir Raises Eyebrows

An Editorial in the Rising Kashmir discusses the new organization, but also raises the possibility that financial loss figures being announced by traders recently are inflated and untrue.

Economic Front

The setting up of Kashmir Economic Front , a joint forum of various trade and industrial bodies for framing and espousing strategies to make Kashmir economy self reliant is a welcome step , even if much belatedly taken.

The front shall comprise of industrial and trade bodies including Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK), Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHARA), Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), Houseboat Owners Association, Kashmir Transporters Federation and Kashmir Flourmills Association as its members.

Besides, it has also been articulated that the front shall also comprise of reputed economists as its members. The formation of the Economic Front comes in the wake of economic blockade that was unilaterally imposed on the valley by Hindu right wing activists by blocking the Srinagar Jammu highway. The front is supposed to come out with strategies for trade, commerce and industry so as to make Kashmir self sustaining on every front.

While the move is a step in right direction, what it calls for is a more organized and broad based set up that encompasses players from varied fields that touch on most of the sectors of the economy. Looking at Kashmir from economic standpoint, it is quite evident that the valley possesses a vast amount of resource base both material and human to embark on the mission of self reliance. The conflict economy of Kashmir has already brunt heavy losses and forming a front only for the sake of it will once again lead to one more abortive attempt of bringing the economy back on track. What it calls for is a more organized effort from the forum and the first thing would be identification of potential sectors that are contributing substantially to State’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP).

For the time there is no disagreement on that power, horticulture, artisan sector and tourism are the areas that present opportunities for capitalization. The forum would do much good to formulate committees for each potential sector identified with members not only from trade and industrial bodies but also experts from the field, bankers and members from civic bodies so as to evolve into pressure group that is to be taken seriously both the government and others.

The trade bodies need to take a lesson from their counterparts across the tunnel that have been forthright in exaggerating their losses while the trade and industrial bodies are still doing their part of thinking to arrive at the estimated losses. Given these conditions formulating strategies for self reliance of Kaashmir’s economy sounds a daunting task.

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