Kashmir’s Bleeding Economy! — M Ashraf

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The “Floating market”, a vegetable market on Dal Lake, where vendors sell vegetables from shikara to shikara (boat to boat).. — Getty Images

M ASHRAF

THE founder of the Ziraat Times, Arjimand Hussain Talib in a recent post on the Facebook while highlighting the problems faced by the trade in Kashmir has observed, “Kashmir’s economy is dying silently, with far-reaching long-term negative impacts. It is high time regional political parties, business groups, and civil society initiated a coordinated and effective action. Strikes will only inflict self-harm. A collective response has to be politically sophisticated and result oriented too”.

But the moot point is why is Kashmir economy dying? Because it has been slowly made to bleed to death! The bleeding started immediately after Kashmir’s first Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was unceremoniously removed and imprisoned in 1953 to enable Kashmir’s total merger and integration. The subsidy culture of fifties introduced by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was the first wound given to the local self-sufficient economy at least in food-related items.

There are no two opinions that agriculture has always been the real backbone of Kashmir’s economy for centuries. Even at present, 80% of the population consists of cultivators. Unfortunately, over the years instead of progressing this sector has been rather dwindling and we are at a juncture when we depend on imports for most of our agriculture-based products! While on one hand most of the agricultural products and the people engaged in producing these have been declining over a period of time, on the other the only thing which has grown geometrically are the government employees! A sizeable chunk of the State budget goes into the salaries of these employees.

Unfortunately, over a period of time, we have depleted slowly the dignity of manual labour and created a mindset of white collar jobs among our youth. According to some estimates, almost a million youth are educated but unemployed. Most are waiting for the white-collar government jobs even at the lowest level. This is the greatest disservice that has been done to our society by our rulers for the last 70 years or so! This mentality has to change.

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