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.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Reviving Agricultural Sector in Kashmir Requires Change in Priorities

An editorial in the Rising Kashmir puts emphasis on money, but equally or even more important is a change in public perception about the importance of agrarian economy on alleviating poverty in rural countryside of the State

Reviving agro-economy

Now that the new government has started taking measures for reviving the ailing economy and is trying to improving all the essential sectors of the State’s economy, one of the sectors that needs more than mere focus is agriculture. There is now a unison agreement that agriculture development is impossible if timely and adequate credit is not available to the farming community.

In a recently “State Credit Seminar for 2009-10” organized by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development(NABARD) in Jammu, it came to light that banks and financial institutions in the State need to tap the vast potential in agriculture and rural development sector. Speakers at the seminar including the Minster for Finance, Law and Parliamentary Affairs were apt to point out that Credit Deposit ratio is much below the levels prevalent in other states of India, besides the schemes that have been formulated for the uplift of agri-sector of the State are not being pursued by nationalized banks operating within Jammu and Kashmir. This directly has affected the agriculture production as a cycle of savings and investments has not been generated to adequate levels by making credit available to farmers.

The formation of Farmers Club has not received any focus from either NABARD or the government. The formation of Farmers Club in every village on the pattern of other States would help the agri-community to get proper extension service, technological know-how and credit facility.

The need for opening Compressed Atmosphere Stores and Cold Chain Facilities for increasing the fresh fruit life was also emphasized by speakers during the deliberations of the seminar. The credit potential for priority sector in the State by Reserve Bank of India has been projected at Rs 2315.65 crore including Rs 536.17 for agriculture, Rs 648.66 for non farm sector, Rs 59.87 crore for agro and food processing and Rs 12.12 crore for micro credit sector. Now this sounds adequate given the credit absorption capacity in the state economy and in primary sector like agriculture. NABARD has also been asked to help the State in development of vital infrastructure pertaining rural economy. Besides the agricultural bank has been advised to come forward and provide safeguard to farmers through insurance cover to crops in collaboration with the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS).

Now the question remains that is this enough to revive the rural economy of the State more particularly the Valley given the level of existing infrastructure available in rural areas? Definitely not, as sectors like irrigation, flood protection, rural drinking water, roads, bridges, schools, primary health centers, agriculture clinics, and host of other areas need the push for bringing the rural economy within acceptable levels.

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