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.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Crushing Effect of Civil Unrest

Sajad says that the State has lost over Rs. 8,000 crores in commerce and 150,000 jobs during the first 100 days of unrest

(Mr. Sajad Kralyari, 28, was born in Kralyar, Srinagar. He had his early schooling at the General Public Mission (GPM) School, and his higher secondary education from the Government High School. He completed his B.Sc. from the Gandhi Memorial College, Rainawari, Srinagar, and Master's degree in journalism from the Media Educational Research Centre (MERC), University of Kashmir in 2008. He subsequently did a brief stint in New Delhi before returning as a correspondent for the Rising Kashmir, working on business and economy related stories.)

Govt Planning Incentives to Valley Industry

Srinagar: After announcing the eight-point Kashmir package recently to help put an end to over three months of unrest, the Government of India is mulling to set up three committees to recommend packages for the battered business community, jobs for the youth and other developmental projects in Valley.

Informed sources told Rising Kashmir that the committees would also look into losses the business community suffered due to the prevailing unrest. “The three committees will look into different dimensions of problems and recommend developmental projects, jobs for youth and assess the loss incurred by the business community,” sources said.

However, the state administration here is grappling with the prevailing situation and is yet to come up with any formula for the business community.

“As of now, we don’t have such packages for the business community nor has any person come here demanding any compensation. Everybody has suffered losses in this situation,” said Director Industries and Commerce K Isfandyar Khan.

As a result of standstill economy, business community is losing Rs 800 Crore per day and the overall loss to the state due to Kashmir unrest is Rs 2400 crore per day.

However, the business community here feels no need of such packages and demand permanent solution to the Kashmir issue instead.

“Government of India has set up several committees and also announced many packages but the problem is still there. These packages have done nothing. This is a political problem and it needs political solution,” said Nazir Ahmad Dar, President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

Notably, the three-month-long unrest in the Valley has resulted in the loss of Rs 8000 crore to the State exchequer. The over 100-day unrest has also resulted in standstill economy; as a result the state has lost one billion mandays.

“We have 3.7 million workers of all categories, which include 20 lakh from Kashmir Division. Ten lakh workers still manage to do work during strikes and curfews in agriculture, horticulture and other small activities at home. But Kashmir loses 10 lakh mandays every day as business and services mobility and movement ceases,” said noted economist of the Valley, Prof Nisar Ali.

“There are 21 public sector establishments, 50,000 small-scale enterprises and around four lakh other establishments in the Valley which have been closed during this unrest. This accounts for Rs 8000 crore loss for 100 days,” said Prof Ali.

Turmoil costs 1.5 lakh Jobs in Kashmir

Srinagar: The three-month-long unrest in the Kashmir Valley has directly hit over 1.5 lakh workers, having been laid off by respective employers owing to "zero" economic activity.

The continued restrictions, curfews and shutdowns have dealt a heavy blow to the private enterprise and the tourism industry in Kashmir, prompting rentrenching of over 1.5 lakh employees.

“There are around four lakh private enterprises, of which 50,000 set-ups would have gone almost sick. At least their bank accounts would have turned Non Performing Assets. This means one lakh employees have gone jobless considering that these enterprises had only two employees,” said President of Federation Chambers of Industries Kashmir (FCIK) Shakeel Qalandar.

Qalander describes the present situation as a "Tsunami-like" situation where the exact estimates of unrest-generated conomic loss is difficult to asssess. “The losses can of very high magnitude but we can’t make the correct assessment as everything is at standstill. This is possible only after this Tsunami is over,” he said.

The Tourism sector - the lifeline of the Valley - is one of the worst hit as close to 60,000 people have already lost their jobs due to the unrest. Tourism players here nurture no hopes of tourist arrivals this year, forcing them to lay off a good chunk of their employees.

At least 70,000 employees are associated with the hotels, of whom 90 per cent have been already retrenched.

“Ninety per cent lay off has already taken place as there is zero occupancy in the hotels presently. The hoteliers can’t bear the salaries of the employees. We have to pay other charges also without getting anything in return,” said a member of one of the hotelier associations, wishing not to be named.

The employees with tour and travel agencies are also subservient to tourism.
Around 10,000 employees with 576 registered tour and travel agencies organize tours to Kashmir. “We can’t rule out the possibility of 50 per cent lay-off. There are zero percent enquiries from the tourists. No tourist would visit a place which has been under curfew for the past few months,” said a tour organizer.

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