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, August 27, 2009

Kashmir's Exports Suffer

Global recession is bad news for Kashmir's traditional handicraft industries

Global recession impacts Kashmir handicrafts, exports dip by41%

Rashid Paul (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: The global economic slowdown has caused a dip of more than 41 per cent in Kashmiri handicraft exports during the fiscal 2008-09 against preceding period.

Handicrafts goods of Rs 1200.47 crores were exported during the year 2007-2008 from Kashmir. The global recession that engulfed the world’s big economies has contracted exports by 41.23 per cent, as handicraft goods worth Rs 705.50 crores only could be exported to Europe, United States and West Asia during 2008-2009.

“The export to European Union that consumes almost 60 per cent of our products has contracted drastically,” said Hamid Punjabi, the secretary general and spokesman of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, KCCI. Carpet, which contributes 50 per cent to our craft exports, is the worst hit, he added.

“Since carpet is a luxurious item, the economic down turn has weaned away the buying potential of customers across Europe,” said Hakim Zafar Ali, a leading Valley based carpet exporter to Europe. The sales have been hit by 50 per cent, he said.

Against an overseas sales of Rs 649 crores during 2007-2008, carpets sales valued at Rs 326 crores only were recorded during the preceding year.

The second highest hit is the shawl industry. It suffered an export loss of almost Rs 90 crore during the ongoing recession. Woolen shawls including, Pashmina, Kani and Sozni valued at Rs 310.29 crores were sold overseas in 2007-2008. However, shawls worth Rs 226.50 crores could be sold during the previous year.

Papier machie however registered a surge of Rs 8 crores in the collapsed overseas market. Different papier machie items costing Rs 41 crores were sold in the international market by Kashmiris in the previous year against a transaction of Rs 33.65 crores in 2007-2008.

However, other craft products including, woodwork, chain stitch, crewel and other products suffered a fall of Rs 95 crores.

Our traders tried to explore new markets in Africa and other regions but it made least impact, Punjabi said.

The signs of economic revival in Europe are visible and by the end of the year the trade is expected to pick up, Zafar Ali, the exporter said.

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