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.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Deepening Divide in Kashmir

The gap between the rich and the poor is widening in Kashmir

Inequalities Highest in Kashmir’

Srinagar: Inequalities between the poor and the rich are highest in Jammu and Kashmir even after two decades of economic liberalisation, broadly implying that poor people are getting poorer and rich are getting richer, according to a recent analysis undertaken by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

The average household monthly per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE) at current prices was deflated by consumer price index to arrive at a realistic measure of change in real economic well being of people across regions and classes.

The ASSOCHAM study confirms that growth rate of both average per capita expenditure and resultant demand increased during 2004-05 and 2009-10. But while the average per capita consumption expenditure remained unchanged for the poorest, 20 per cent people, the average household income of the richest 20 per cent increased by 7.7 per cent.

This broadly led to increased inequalities. On an average, a rural household in the richest 20 per cent category spent more than 258 per cent of what a household of similar size falling in the poorest 20 per cent category spent in 2004-05. This difference further increased to 286 per cent in 2009-10.

“The resultant market size of richer MPCE classes too increased at a relatively faster pace,” said ASSOCHAM secretary general D S Rawat. “While the size of consumer markets expanded at a healthy rate of 7.9 per cent, economic inequality further widened over these five years.”

The calculated gini coefficients for states indicate that income inequalities increased in Jammu and Kashmir by 7.37 per cent, Madhya Pradesh including Chattisgarh 4.96 per cent and Bihar including Jharkhand by 4.9 per cent.

At the same time, gini coefficient values indicate falling inequalities in Orissa by 5.75 per cent, Maharashtra 3.85 per cent, Haryana 2.36 per cent and West Bengal.

Rajasthan, Karnataka, northeastern states and union territories too have seen some fall in the degree of income inequalities.

“Along with achieving higher economic growth, more efforts need to be made to make it more inclusive,” said Rawat adding reducing income inequalities is necessary for accelerating economic and human development. State governments must play a major role in developing social sectors and critical infrastructure.

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