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Second wave of COVID19: Kashmir businesses feel the heat




Srinagar, May 27: While the COVID19 pandemic created havoc across the world, affecting the economy and businesses throughout the globe, India – one of the worst-hit countries by the coronavirus – has to face an economic recession after decades as the GDP for 2020-21 is expected to contract by more than 7 percent. However, the businesses in Jammu and Kashmir have to face a double whammy. First, it was the August 5, 2019 clampdown and internet ban, and as people here were struggling to come out of its impact, a countrywide lockdown was announced to curb the deadly virus. This year also as the second wave of COVID19, which proved worse than the first one, hit the country, restrictions were again put in place for the movement of people as well as the opening of markets, educational institutions and public places hitting hard the already beleaguered business. To know the impact of these back to back lockdowns on the Kashmir economy, Business Kashmir spoke to some businessmen and industrialists about their assessment of the situation.

Kaisar Ahmad Khan

Al-Furqaan Enterprises

Trade & Distribution sector

My company is going through a financial crunch. We provide stock to our retailers but most of the payments remain withheld. We have about 10 employees working with us, who are dependent on the firm. We have to pay salaries to our employees as well as rent of godowns, which makes it even more difficult to cope with the loss.

The trade sector is hugely impacted by the COVID19 pandemic and prior lockdowns as well. Due to prolonged lockdowns, consumer buying power has gone down. Even those people who have money are only buying essentials and deferring bigger purchasing decisions as the situation is unpredictable.

The government needs to take some concrete steps to facilitate the business sector. Refinancing of loans and interest subvention is of no help to businesses like ours. The situation is like that we have to start it all from scratch now because Kashmir has witnessed three lockdowns consecutively. Government should come up with a good package that will deal with business as well as present the COVID19 situation simultaneously.

Dawar Mir

MA Mir and Co.

Govt Contractor

COVID19 pandemic has resulted in halting major construction activities. While the construction material prices have shot up by more than 35%. Be it gravel, sand, cement or steel, all items are now costlier as compared to the rates before August 5, 2019. But the government rates are locked until the completion of a project and as the work gets delayed due to lockdowns, it takes away the profitability.

I believe, the industrial sector is witnessing a 90% loss, since the business is not going well we still have to pay the workers which drain the capital. Though during the present phase of lockdown, passes have been allotted to the industry people. But these passes are not many times entertained by the lockdown enforcing people on the ground.

Though the government has a lot of policies on paper regarding industry and business, all they need to do is implement those policies, which is not happening. Development funds are delayed, and payments are pending for the last 3 years. If the government implements the policies there might be some respite from the misery of losses.

Ibrahim Beigh

5G Mobile Services

Cell Phone sale& Service 

COVID19 pandemic has affected the daily work of our firm badly. Mine is a product-based as well as a service-based business. Due to COVID curfew and lockdown, the official store at Khanyar is closed. The business is run through online mode now and delivered to customers through logistics service providers which have impacted the sales as the footfall has reduced to a significant amount in our retail store. The online platforms cannot compensate for that. Economic scenario has deprived to a large extent and spending power of people is very low compared to what it is in normal conditions.

There is no display of mercantile in the retail store, owing to present circumstances, all sales are generated online right now. We are offering free delivery within adjoining areas and paid delivery in farther areas.

The business is witnessing a 50-60% dip in sales on average because of the current lockdown.  The store has 5-6 employees, all working on a commission basis presently, no salary structure is being applied for now.

Kashmir’s economy has been disturbed since 2014 itself, due to natural as well as political conditions, keeping in view all these factors and knowing this is the third consecutive lockdown, the administration should strike a balance between pandemic as well as business and ease restrictions for businesspeople to some extent.

Certain leniency should be provided to businesses, as holistic lockdown will halt the economy completely. The opening of markets should happen in a phased manner under a particular controlled mechanism.  Society has hand-to-mouth segments of people as well who are solely dependent upon the small businesses they own, keeping that in view the stringent standards of lockdown should ease to some extent.  Also, the administration needs to facilitate the smooth movement of delivery persons, as it’s not easy for them to move freely during such stringent lockdown.

Sheikh Samiullah


Logistics & Courier Services

FastBeetle has witnessed good growth during the ongoing lockdown. People want all the essential to get delivered to them at their doorsteps, which boosted the logistics business. This sector of business has seen a significant amount of profit.

The mobile application makes it very easy for people to place an order. The company has employed 35 people till now and is doing very well.

Kashmir has witnessed several lockdowns which have resulted in less economic growth. There are other sectors of business that have got severely affected due to the lockdown. Government officials should come up with some relief packages for business sectors so that the ongoing losses can be compensated.

The movement of delivery persons during the COVID curfew is a matter of concern. Their movement is usually restricted, and they are even beaten most sometimes, but somehow they manage to deliver the orders by following Covid- SOPs.’

Kashmir businesses feel the heat

Daniyal Qureshi

Greenway Enterprise

Packaging Industry

The current lockdown has resulted in a decline in production at our factory.

Initially, the movement was not allowed from home to factories, then the administration ordered movement passes to people in estates but on grounds, the situation was quite opposite. Since the markets were closed, the buyers were not ready to accept the products which affected the product generation. Even though the factory was closed, the payment to labourers and utilities needs to be paid. The production made is zero but banks are continuously charging the interests from the firms.

Since there is no sale, we are not able to generate any money, what will we pay to a bank? Because of this, our EMIs are continuously piling up.

Currently, Greenway Enterprise has seen a 30% dip in production generation. The national lockdown has resulted in an escalation in prices of raw materials as well. Presently, losses are being assessed, and it can be said that the current state of Kashmir’s economy is not viable.

Government should come up with effective policies to compensate for the losses.

With proper implementation of COVID19 SOPs, markets should be at least opened alternatively.

Government should consider a proper plan of 5 years for rehabilitation, revival and restructuring of the business sector. The economy is under crunch and 40% – 50%  capital infusion will not help in reviving the market.

Asif Hussain

Fair Fax Holidays

Tour & Travel

Tourism sector is one of the worst-hit sectors in Kashmir. Except for a brief period of 2-3 months, tourism activities have remained suspended in Kashmir since August 2019.

The employees working with us are very badly impacted. To sustain we provide them with a salary but at the same time, everyone wants to see growth in their job, which unfortunately can’t be achieved in Kashmir.

The tourism sector saw a boom for the winter month for a while, at a winter sports event in Gulmarg and in April, at tulip festival opening. So, keeping that in view many investments were made beforehand but due to the sudden rise in Covid cases and imposing of lockdown, all the investments are in a loss. The graph of tourism has seen improvement only for two times since three consecutive lockdowns it’s in decline mode.

Forget about gaining, even to sustain markets are not open.

Hotels, restaurants are all shut since lockdown and the earning is zero in the tourism sector.

The expectations of the tourism sector now lie with the Amarnath Yatra, which is supposed to get functional in July.

The objectivity is lacking in Kashmir’s trade and commerce sector. The state has no backup plan, even after witnessing many unstable conditions. The government is not taking any solid steps to help the people who went through huge losses.

The administration should frame policies that can be implemented on grounds keeping in view the Covid-19 SOPs.  It seems that we have to live with COVID, for now, so the strategies to sustain the economy should be made very effectively. Government should start home-based projects for youth who are unemployed and can’t find work due to the pandemic.

Firdaus Bhat

Manchester Education Consultancy Services

Service Sector

COVID19 has badly impacted us, as almost every country is dealing with it right now. Travel and movement in many parts of the world are either banned or restricted. Earlier, it would be lockdown in Kashmir and students would like to go outside for the studies but this time situation is the same everywhere. So the kind of service we provide, overseas education, is completely down and my venture is running in losses. I have to pay the salary to my employees regularly.

Not only the educational consultancies but overall the education sector is in losses. But despite that, I’ll argue that lockdown should continue until it is required to rein in this deadly virus. Health should be a priority for everyone.


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Global eCommerce boom and local traders of Kashmir



Global eCommerce boom Kashmir

A Structural Shift in the Market Preferences

Dhaar Mehak M
Tabeen J Wali

The global eCommerce market was expected to be worth a total of $5.7 trillion by the end of 2022. That figure is estimated to grow over the next few years; exhibiting the fact that borderless eCommerce is becoming a profitable option for online retailers. It is giving a market space to one and all with a potential or product to sell. Only two years ago, 17.8% of sales globally were made from online purchases. That number is again expected to reach 20.8% by the end of 2023; a 2 percentage point increase in eCommerce market share. This growth is expected to continue, reaching 23% by 2025, translating to an increase of 5.2 percentage points in just five years.

Economic projections and forecasts predict the global retail sales growth to rise even further and take up more retail market share. According to research completed by eMarketer and Statista, online retail sales will reach $6.51 trillion by 2023, with eCommerce websites taking up 22.3% of total retail sales. Although retail has had it tough since 2020, every national market covered by eMarketer saw double-digit eCommerce growth. The trend continues globally: Latin America (including Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico) saw $104 billion in eCommerce sales in 2022, up 22.4% from $85 billion in 2021. The UK is forecasted to continuously increase by $85.7 billion (+42.88%) within the next years.

China continues to lead the global eCommerce market, accounting for 46.3% of all retail eCommerce sales worldwide, with total online sales just over the $2.8 trillion mark in 2022. It also has the world’s most digital buyers, 842.1 million, representing 39.4% of the global total. The US eCommerce market is forecasted to reach more than $904.9 billion in 2022, a little over a third of China’s. After China and the US, the third-largest eCommerce market is the United Kingdom, taking up 4.8% of the retail eCommerce sales share. The UK is followed by Japan (3%) and South Korea (2.5%). The top five eCommerce markets haven’t changed since 2018. Trends from eMarketer suggest that these markets will stay in the top five until 2025.

While the whole world has been witnessing the structural transformation and shift in terms of market transformations from retailing to online shopping, the Indian economy has been a part of the process. In light of the same, the Jammu and Kashmir economy has had an equal and equally growing participation in the same. The advent of the internet and the arrival of eCommerce technology in the lives of average Kashmiris have changed the shopping preferences and experiences of the locals. People no longer have to battle issues like vehicular traffic on the roads or wait in queues for long hours. Accredited to the growth of eCommerce technology, locals have been empowered to shop anywhere-anytime just at the click of a button.

However, in the recent past, there was no (or very limited) concept of eCommerce in Kashmir. Smartphone availability to the general public was rare. The masses were barely aware about the internet facilities and global communication channels. There was no idea of online shopping, online transactions, etc. With time and the availability of the internet along with the growing mobile phone penetration, eCommerce made its presence felt in the valley. However, due to slower internet connection issues like 2G and lack of awareness, people initially had apprehensions and thus were afraid of buying things online.

Global eCommerce boom Kashmir

Tracing the roots and history of online shopping awareness in J&K, it dates back to the year 2008 when the mobile internet was making its headway into the valley. People were gaining affordable and available access to wireless internet. It was around the same time that after bearing a lot of hardships with sorting out the supply chains Flipkart became operational and function in the region. the initial years were tough and hard but the company stood steadfast. It took some time for Flipkart to cut through lots of hurdles alone and get to success. Being the only player in the online market in the region for quite some time it was a big deal to keep surviving and floating. But the outcomes were a success.

Steadily as people gain access to quality internet services and advanced smartphone technology the word spread. It was observed that doorstep delivery was actually a reality. At the same time, the quality of the delivery matched the promises of the website. The trust factor got built. Witnessing optimism within the J&K market, other companies like Amazon, SnapDeal, and other local online stores, etc., started jumping in to tap into the growing eCommerce market. The consumers got the opportunity of choosing from a wide range of products. Not only that, discounts and sales from time to time offer big benefits to consumers.

All these factors have been contributing towards a structural market shift. People from across J&K have been moving from in-person retail shopping to online shopping. While the consumers in the region have surely benefitted both in terms of utility/satisfaction and profit maximization, the retailers have been losing.

The J&K economy is predominantly characterized as a consumer economy. The characteristics of being a producer and self-sufficient economy have been limited and rather absent for a long time. It is the retailer of J&K, who has been at the losing end on account of the growth of the online markets. Retailing has been one of the most common business ventures of people across the region of J&K. Setting up of the shops and selling various items has been a known venture. People for generations have been relying on this activity. Lately, the structural change is challenging this segment of J&K businessmen and the immediate solution visible is evolution. These businessmen, particularly retailers, need to adjust to the changing market and make themselves competitive enough to compete with global online sellers. The only other option is to let the business supper, deteriorate and shut down.

The authors are affiliated with the Department of Economics, Islamic University of Science and Technology & can be reached at and

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Women shaping informal sector in Kashmir



Women shaping informal sector

Dhaar Mehak M

 The informal sector is defined as the unregistered part of an economy. In a traditional economy, it is assumed that every business entity is formally registered with the government. A proper registration of a business unit is associated with a number of economic, political and social factors. All the registered units to begin with are enumerated in the industrial census. It keeps the government and policy makers informed about the number and nature of the units. The economic and industrial policies are made and shaped in light of these numbers. Social welfare is decided based on the outcomes coming from these registered units. And the long run industrial and economic planning is carried systematically based on information and evidence from the ground.

Quite contrary to this established smooth channel of economic growth and transition, the developing and under-developed parts of the world have been reflecting self-curated unique trends. First of all, the formal sector has not been able to expand as expected. This has led to limited employment opportunities coming from this sector to the ever-increasing populations and youth bulges. As an instinct to survive, people are forced to find some or other kind of employment. This has led to the creation of and the growth of the informal sector across these pockets of the world. The case of India is one of the fundamental ones. The Indian economy is characterized as having one of the most unique and large informal sectors across the world. 80% to 85% Indian population is estimated to be employed directly and indirectly in the informal sector.

Empirics show that Jammu and Kashmir has reflected growth in the informal sector over time. On the eve of the creation of the welfare state in the region headed by Sheikh M Abdullah, a socialistic model of development was brought into practice. It was called, ‘The Naya Kashmir Manifesto’. Among other things, one of the main agendas of the manifesto was to set in place a public sector-led industrialization process in J&K. As such, all the industries established under the Naya Kashmir Manifesto are a-priori classified as the formal sector firms. The political instability and fragility in the region kept on increasing and the focus of the government as predicted by theory and validated by practice shifted to peace restoration activities. This gave a back-lash to the public sector lead industrialization process in the region.

Steadily people began to look for alternative means of livelihood and subsistence. This set in place the informal sector across all the pockets of the region. The instability during the decades of 1990s, followed by various political and natural shocks during the 2000s made people realize that each person must be skilful and must practice the same in order to keep on bringing in sustenance money. The Kashmir division is particularly known to be diversified in various types of craft. From Ari work, through Tilla designing, people have bene utilising their skills to cash in some money. The wood-carving, Pashmina making and many distinct skills indigenous to Kashmir have been practiced in the informal sector by both men and women over time.

Of late there has been an Information Technology boom. The 2000 AD has seen a drastic revolutionising of the world through the spread of the World Wide Web. Mobile phone penetration has made the world an accessible global village. The social media applications of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have empowered people in a number of ways. People started off with sharing their pictures and highlighting their skills online on social media platforms. On receiving appreciation their confidence rose and soon people started to ask if some of their skills could be shared or used.

These platforms have greatly affected the economic well-being of the women located across various regions of Kashmir. Initially, women from different ages and social backgrounds strolled these platforms. Some of them enhanced their existing skills or learnt new ones online. This was followed by trying a hand at the commercialisation of the same, which in many cases has yielded a positive response. There are a number of examples that can be quoted as brief case studies in the present article.

The Instagram page by the handle of @makeupshakeupbynidanazir evolved over time. Nida has always been fond of make-up and lipsticks. As a child she always bought makeup and accessories from her pocket money. Applied the same on her dolls, herself, her cousins and her mother and grandmother occasionally. Over time she mastered the skill. From turning pages of magazines to learning online through YouTube etc. her skills enhanced steadily. It was her friend’s engagement and Nida offered to do her make-up. The outcomes were really appreciable. The friends decided to open up on online platform to display her make-up skills. The bookings soon followed and today Nida is a known name in the local make-up industry.

Saba married a doctor who lived in Saudi Arabia. Soon after her marriage, she moved to KSA with her husband. She always liked chocolates and began exploring the chocolates of KSA. Later in 2016, she shifted back to Kashmir with her kids. The kids and herself started missing the unique chocolates of KSA. One day Saba decided to curate her own. The chocolates turned out to be good. She shared the same with her sister and cousins. She was influenced to upload the same on Instagram. Steadily, the popularity of her chocolates grew and orders started to flow in. Today Saba is an established name in the curated and customized local chocolate industry.

There are innumerable other success stories which will be discussed steadily. But the underlying point of the present article is that the informal sector in Kashmir has been growing ever since the formal industrial set-up took a back-set during 1950s. Initially it was hidden and the returns were menial or limited. However, with the growth of the internet boom the women in the region have been able to harness the benefits and the informal sector has been growing steadily and sustainably. In Kashmir, this sector can be directly related to women’s empowerment and is expected to increase steadily over time.


The author teaches at the Department of Economics, Islamic University of Science and Technology, J&K and can be reached at

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Rural mart inaugurated under NABARD scheme



Rural mart inaugurated under NABARD


Shopian, Sept 20: National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD) has collaborated with National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) for extending the grant support to SHGs promoted by NRLM for setting up rural marts. These marts aim to promote and provide a platform for women’s self-help groups to market their handmade products.

The rural mart was inaugurated on 20 Sept 2022, at Shopian

Dr AK Sood, CGM NABARD J&K, SSP Shopian Tanushree, NRLM Reyaz Ahmad, and ADDC Shopian, Manzoor Hussain were present for the inauguration ceremony.

The mart will give numerous SHGs an opportunity to sell their homemade goods, including apparel, handloom and handicraft products, homemade food items, dry fruits, and more.
For a period of three years, NABARD has agreed to commit Rs 4.79 lakh as financial support for each rural market. NABARD will pay for the components, such as shop rent, salesman salaries, marketing costs, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Dr Sood, CGM NABARD, urged the female SHG members to use the mart as an opportunity for economic growth and to guarantee the continuity, quality, and quantity of local goods for both locals and tourists.
Additional Mission Director NRLM commended SHGs for taking such a unique initiative in the district.

“Rural mart to be run by female SHGs is the first step towards women empowerment in the district,” said Tanushree, SSP Shopian

Members of various SHGs from the district attended the event. Deputy General Manager NABARD Surinder Singh, District Development Manager NABARD Rouf Zargar, DPMs NRLM Uzma Mehraj and Irfan were also present on the occasion.

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