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 20, 2009

What if Civilizational Wars Were Replaced by Cola Wars?

While Kashmir consumes Rs 270 Crores worth of carbonated drinks and juices annually, local drinks have only 2% market share

Indigenous Industry Lacks Highly Sophisticated Marketing Approaches to Grow Local Brands

Srinagar: The consumption of carbonated and non-carbonated drinks in the State has touched a whooping Rs 270 crores annually, however with the drinks being manufactured outside and local producers holding mere 2 percent market share, local processing unit-holders are worried over what the trend would mean to their business.

“The trend is quite dangerous for the local processing units,” said Dr Zainul-abidin, President Kashmir Chamber of Food Processing Industry (KCOFI).

Furnishing details he said that the non-carbonated drinks have a market of Rs 55 crores in the State and is almost entirely under the control of foreign brands.

Across the State there are around 40 beverages and juice manufacturers, some owned by government and some by local entrepreneurs, but they are nowhere in competition with brand leaders like Coca Cola, Pepsi, Real, Tropicana and Rani juice “which leaves a very less space for the local brands like FIL, Shah Foods, Hyacinth juices and others.”

“The local brands are no where in contest,” he said.

According to the figures available, in 2008 alone, the State witnessed a consumption of around 18.40 lakh liters of Slice Juice—a Pepsi product, 27.60 lakh liters of Maaza juice—a Coca cola product, 17.35 lakh liters of Appy juice, 8.50 lakh liters of Real juice, 15 lakh liters of Rani juice and 8.50 lakh liters of other juices like Jumpin and domestic brands. The leading brands in carbonated segment Pepsi and Coca Cola saw sale of 7 lakh crates.

“This means we have a huge consumer base here. And definitely a potential market of juice and beverage industry,” the KCOFI President said.

Zainul-abidin proposed several initiatives, which he said, would help the local industry grow and have a bigger share in the total beverage market of State.

“We essentially need a cold storage and easily available raw material. We don’t have a proper packaging plant. Besides it is poor lending from banks that is stopping local entrepreneurs to enter the business,” he said while appealing government to consider these demands.

Meanwhile, President of Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK) Shakeel Qalander said that the trend of choosing juices over carbonated soft drinks is increasing and if proper plans are set up, local industry can make it to the 70 percent of the total share.

“And that can happen in next five years. I can bet on it,” the FCIK president was confident.

He said the local entrepreneurs have managed to set up eight mineral water plants across the Valley and similarly, if government helps, “we can have a good share in the non-carbonated beverage market.”

Almost 7 lakh metric ton of fruits every year during culling stage, he said, simply go waste which can be stopped by declaring orchardists and farmers as processors, giving them a small processing unit, where in they could start processing these fruits simply from their farms.

“Encouraging our own units would reverse the trend of consuming imported beverages,” Qalander added.

(Rising Kashmir)

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