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, March 14, 2009

Export of Carpets From Kashmir Nose Dives as Global Recession Grows

Kashmiri economist says that market share for Kashmiri carpets is less than 7% and decreasing

Global meltdown casts its spell on world famed Kashmir carpet industry

Shabir Ibn Yusuf (Kashmir Times)

SRINAGAR: The last 20 years of unending turmoil could not affect the 700 year old popular carpet industry of Kashmir, but now recession is threatening the industry if the officials and the people associated with it are believed.

Meanwhile Jammu and Kashmir Bank is devising a plan to support the carpet weavers in these troubled times.

The valley, according to official records, has at least 200,000 weavers that create expensive silk and woolen carpets and these are sold in Europe, USA and many other countries in the world.

Official records maintain that last year, exports were down to 135 million compared with 174 million in 2006. And the demand is declining and importers are canceling the orders. This year, officials at the government's handloom department expect sales to reach a maximum of 2 billion rupees.

Muneer Ahmad is associated with carpet industry, he says that now there are fewer buyers. "Industry is getting affecting badly. Now there are fewer buyers and foreign buyers are canceling their orders," he said adding, "The two decades of turmoil could not affect the industry in such a way."

Ishfaq Ahmad who runs a carpet showroom says, "We used to sell five to six carpets a day, but during the past 15 days we have sold only two," adding, "Buyers are offering us very low rates, and if we agree we will incur huge losses."

The valley of Kashmir is dotted with rolling meadows, gushing streams and beautiful lakes, and is one of the popular tourist destinations, with visitors often picking up carpets as souvenirs.

Noted economist and Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Bank Dr Haseeb Drabu, two days ago, while inaugurating series of new branches and ATMs in the valley also admitted that carpet industry is under tremendous threat and the Bank is devising a plan to help the weavers. "Carpet industry is under tremendous threat and the weavers will have no other option but to shift to other vocations," he said adding, "As against sale of 1,85000 carpets in the global market, this year we have been able to sell just 12000 carpets and this is simply the adverse impact of global melt down. To support the weavers in such situation, the bank is devising a plan to provide financial support to the people associated with the trade," he said.

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