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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Gap Between the Rich and the Poor Keeps Growing

The second most corrupt state in India has some lucrative consumer needs

Car Market

Srinagar: The car market here has witnessed a big leap for many years now and almost all the major players in the Indian automobile sector are vying to take their pie from the lucrative Kashmir market. While it is a good sign and reflects the affluence of the community, increase in disposable income, more convenience and other aspects but simultaneously has some negatives as well. The market has not only witnessed growth of number of car dealers but has also thrown open number of automobile service stations not only in the centers of the city but in rural areas. This has led to employment generation to skilled and semi skilled youth of the Valley.

The car market in Kashmir is emerging as one of the fastest growing markets in North India and auto makers are cashing in on this opportunity and offering price competitive products. With rising affordability and easy bank finance, vehicle sales started picking up in early 2000s here. The launch of Nano was a watershed moment in the automobile industry of India as the car earned a reputation of common man’s car. Affordability, manoeuvrability in crowded streets and Tata brand made people book the vehicle left and right.

Automotive experts believed that due to economic downturn and concern over Carbon dioxide emissions, people will prefer smaller cars and their predictions came right when even big car manufacturers like BMW, Audi and Mercedes also started to have their small car versions. Maruti, Tata Engineering and Hyundai are the major players who share a major portion of the car market within the State. While the Indian car market is expected to grow at 3-5 per cent during the year 2009-10, the growth in Kashmir market is well above all India average according to data available with the dealers of various manufacturers.

All the car manufacturers operating here have reasons to celebrate but consumer are left to marketing skills of sales person who bring forth the positives of the vehicle and leave the dark spots for consumers to guess. The case of fire in Nano cars brings to the fore the low awareness level among customers who trusted manufacturers blindly.

The State government needs to intervene and ensure that consumers who invest their hard earned money in buying the necessity get a fair value for their money. Consumer forums and weights and measures department have a role to play for ensuring the protection of consumer interests. At least the corporate sector cannot be left to the forces of market alone given the low level of information about cars people of the Valley have.
(Rising Kashmir)

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