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.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chilling Economic Divide: The State With Highest VAT Collection is also the One With Substantial Poverty

Kashmir provides a vivid contrast among the rich and the poor

Poverty: J&K not too far behind the rest

Jammu: Contrary to popular perception that J&K state fares quite well in poverty eradication graph vis-…-vis national statistics, the indicators of regional development put the state close to all India magnitude in percentage of population living Below Poverty Line (BPL).

As per these indicators, on the whole, the state has 21.63 percentage of BPL population in 2007-08 as compared to all India magnitude of 27.50 in 2004-05. The state has an estimated BPL population (rural and urban combined figure) of 2420826.

Of 22 districts of the state, eight districts i.e., Reasi, Ramban, Kishtwar, Poonch, Kupwara, Kargil, Bandipora and Doda, in 2007-08 indicators, have even crossed the scale of national statistics of BPL population percentage as recorded in 2004-05.

Though exact figures of BPL population for the year 2007-08 in the country are not available on paper yet roughly (including slum population also), they account for 40 percent of entire population of India. However BPL population percentage for the year 2007-08 in these districts of J&K hovers between 37.93 to 29.07 percent on high magnitude scale, which is again close to the latest (approximate) national statistics as well.

Reasi district has the highest magnitude of BPL population percentage i.e., 37.93 percent while Srinagar records the lowest magnitude with 6.51 percent. In Reasi, estimated BPL population is 103670 while Srinagar has an estimated BPL population of 73262.

Jammu district figures at the third position (lowest magnitude) with an estimated BPL population of 177399 which accounts for 11.97 percent of its entire population. Kathua district is slightly ahead of Jammu with 11.72 percent in BPL population percentage and an estimated BPL population of 69159.

However in three regions, it is the Ladakh region, which has the highest BPL population percentage i.e., 27.03 in 2007-08 which is almost close to the national magnitude as recorded in 2004-05. In Ladakh region, there is an estimated BPL population of 70541 as compared to 1291222 in Kashmir region which turns out to be 21.37 percent. However, Jammu region has an estimated BPL population of 1059063 which accounts for 21.67 percent of its population.

On the higher side vis-…-vis BPL population percentage and estimated BPL population, among the districts, Ramban and Kishtwar districts of Jammu closely follow Reasi district. While Ramban district has the second highest scale of estimated BPL population i.e., 89482 accounting for 37.73 percentage of its population, Kishtwar has just a difference of .01 percent and it emerges as the district with third highest magnitude of BPL population percentage with 37.72. In Kishtwar an estimated BPL population has been registered as 79417 in 2007-08.

Poonch, Kupwara, Kargil and Bandipora districts have an estimated BPL population of 138404, 233569, 41993 and 120846, which account for 33.67 percent, 32.55 percent, 31.90 percent and 31.09 percent respectively of their respective population count.

However, as per population count size (purely in terms of number), Baramulla district has the highest estimated BPL population i.e., 237068 (though accounting for only 26.7 percent of its entire population), closely followed by Kupwara district with 233569 estimated BPL population (accounting for 32.55 percent of its total population).

Leh has the lowest population count (purely in terms of number) i.e., 28548 (though accounting 22.07 percent of its total population).

JK tops in Vat collection

Jammu: Record revenue of Rs 1721.59 crore was earned by the Commercial Taxes Department by the end of February 2009 as compared to Rs 1623.87 crore during the same period last year.

This information was given to Minister for Finance, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Abdul Rahim Rather while reviewing the functioning of the department here this afternoon. The meeting was informed that revenue generated from General Sales Tax/Value Added Tax (GST/VAT) has been to the tune of Rs 1394. 31 crore by February, 2009 end while it was Rs. 1,287.72 crore during the same period last year which is a rise of about 12.94 percent .

Out of Rs. 1394.31 crore revenue collection, Rs 936.14 crore was generated in Jammu province and Rs 458.17 crore from Kashmir province. Similarly, under Motor Spirit Rs 275.37 crore, under stamps Rs 46.11 crore while as Rs 5.80 crore revenue was collected as Passenger tax during the same period.

Stating that the state earns major revenue from CT department, Rather stressed upon the officers to utilize their proficiency and ability for increasing the revenue realization. He hailed the efforts of the officers on the implementation of Value Added Tax and added that their efforts had made J&K, the first ranked state in the country in terms of VAT collections. He said that the performance should also be replicated in other areas, as well.

Minister said for achieving better revenue realization friendly relationship between traders and officers is imperative. He said that there is a general perception among people that red-tape in government departments leads to delays and inconvenience. He said that such perceptions needs to be changed in the present times when the government is going for a customer friendly set up.

Minister called for effective monitoring of tax realization and added that transparency and efficiency be maintained at all levels. He stressed upon the officers for undertaking random inspection and field visits to maximize the revenue realization in all the areas. Commissioner/ Secretary, Finance Sudhanshu Pandey, Commissioner Commercial Taxes, Basher Ahmad and other senior officers of the department participated in the meeting.

(Kashmir Times)

No comments: