Altaf Hussain Haji
The UT of Jammu and Kashmir has unique features and a strategic location that tells a story of various sectors for employment, development and wellbeing. The manufacturing and services sectors of Jammu and Kashmir suffered a lot due to a number of reasons in the last two decades and affected employment, development and wellbeing. As per current reports of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the government of India, unemployment increased and overall less development happened in Jammu and Kashmir. At this movement, the government and other institutions need to think of an integrated approach in order to tackle the serious problems of unemployment, derailment from development and little attention towards various indicators of SDGs. The initiatives of the government must be speedy attention for trying to reduce unemployment through sustainable manufacturing and services sectors in Jammu and Kashmir.
The government is trying hard to create a secure environment for improving the manufacturing and services sectors in Jammu and Kashmir. The current pandemic and instability derailed the institutions of government and non-government sectors and created a lot of problems of unemployment particularly in the service sector in Jammu and Kashmir in the last few years. There are only better hopes of employment in the service sector in Jammu and Kashmir due to the vast avenues of the tourism sector. Further, a large number of small entrepreneurs and enterprises of manufacturing and services sectors in Jammu and Kashmir did not sustain due to the financing through various sources.
The lack of financing is the only reasons here behind the manufacturing and services sectors for their sustainability establishment in Jammu and Kashmir in the present scenario. It is to state here that state finance should also receive proper attention in order to ensure better fiscal and financial management for such small entrepreneurs and enterprises which played an important role in the business venture or economy of Jammu and Kashmir. A sound policy should be devised to exploit the potential in the sectors of strength. In a nutshell, sound policy and good governance can lead the UT of Jammu and Kashmir to a faster development path.
Also, efforts are needed for the development of infrastructure, generation of employment and alleviation of poverty to bring about the desired socio-economic development of Jammu and Kashmir. There is also an urgent need to undertake an impact assessment study of the schemes implemented by the government on the socio-economic conditions of the people, particularly those belonging to the economy of various sectors. On the other side crowdfunding, a new concept developed for new business ventures can be useful at this moment in Jammu and Kashmir
The concept of crowdfunding has become an increasingly popular way for individuals and businesses alike to raise much-needed capital for self-interest and employment generation for others. The financially sound persons may help to promote the business and generate employment for others.
There are different types of crowdfunding such as donation-based, reward-based, equity-based, debt-based and real estate-based crowdfunding. Donation-based crowdfunding is simply asking for a small donation from a large number of people to raise money for personal needs as well as community-based projects like raising money to cover medical expenses or an unexpected financial crisis or raising funds for local projects like a community garden or new park. Reward-based crowdfunding is another common type of crowdfunding, typically used to raise funds for a new startup or organization. In equity-based crowdfunding, it is the best for small to medium-sized companies that are seeking a large amount of capital to launch or grow their business.
Debt-based crowdfunding is a fast and easy way for both individuals and businesses to raise the money they need. Debt-based crowdfunding works by collecting donations with the promise to pay them back at a later date and real estate crowdfunding is becoming more popular for investors recently who want to put their money in real estate, without the hassle of getting a traditional loan or the obligation of owning all of a single property. Typically, an individual or a real estate company will collect funds from investors to pay for a large property, like an apartment building.
The financially sound persons of Jammu and Kashmir may help to use the concept of crowdfunding such as reward-based crowdfunding, equity-based crowdfunding, and debt-based crowdfunding for a new or existing business venture, employment generation and development of the economy of the UT. One of the reasons that manufacturing or others sectors do not grow in Jammu and Kashmir is the lack of awareness of the concept of crowdfunding among business venture culture.
It is true that the rich people of Jammu and Kashmir did not donate to business ventures for self-benefits and help others. The financially sound persons in Jammu and Kashmir mostly keep their wealth held with themselves and do not think of using excess money as crowdfunding to benefit the future generation. A successful crowdfunding round will give a startup more leverage to come up with better terms and conditions. As crowdfunding becomes more popular and there is a growth of the number of platforms facilitating transactions, it is extremely important for the right ingredients needed to attract the maximum number of investors.
It is suggested to consider some important facts before crowdfunding for a startup project or new business venture.
Strategic Use of Social Media: It is a good idea to have a wide reach as possible through various modes of publicity including social media. This means picking the right networks to complement marketing and content strategy and ensuring that the right supporters are targeted.
Make and Use Video Clips: The attractive professional video clips made properly can help potential donors to get a better idea of what is being pitched. A product or service can be seen in action rather than through a series of stills or a wordy brief.
Wait for the Right Time to Ask for Money: With the right enthusiasm and the story of the project presented, people will want to add support naturally. Make sure the backers know what they are supporting and what they can expect in return. Backers should be allowed to invest as little or as much as they want.
Build Interest: Before and during the campaign, it is necessary to generate interest in the business. A pre-existing fan base can help a campaign achieve a strong start. A blog, a documentary, or a social media presence can help generate this interest. The sharing ideas of project/business venture and get feedback and expert guidance on how to improve during crowdfunding. The number of investors who can track the progress also may help you to promote your brand through their networks and become the most loyal customers through the financing process.
With interaction during conducting annual surveys of industries of National Statistical Office (NSO), Field Operations Division, some entrepreneurs and owners of enterprise of the manufacturing sector in Srinagar, there is a lot of requirements of crowdfunding at this movement in Jammu and Kashmir for the sustainable establishment, economic development and wellbeing of the society. The Good Samaritans of Jammu and Kashmir who are financially sound should come forward for help through crowdfunding particularly reward-based crowdfunding, equity-based crowdfunding and debt-based crowdfunding to save the economy and improve the wellbeing of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The new way happens only if the trust will be built among investors and loyal customers during crowdfunding. Only Trust makes this concept in successes for the development and wellbeing of the people. At last, it is to say that crowdfunding must be appreciated for startups of new initiatives and ideas. The government should also recognize such initiatives and ideas for the betterment of the economy of Jammu and Kashmir.
Altaf Hussain Haji, ISS, is Deputy Director General National Statistical Office, Shimla. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Women shaping informal sector in Kashmir
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 [email protected]
Rural mart inaugurated under NABARD scheme
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.
Wood shortage, high prices due to Russia-Ukraine war affect timber business in Kashmir
Srinagar: Every summer Altaf Ahmad 35, a small timber trader from north Kashmir Baramulla district used to be busy with his timber business, but this year instead of attending to customers at his unit, Altaf spends his day playing cricket in his village outskirts. The war in far-off lands has affected his business badly.
The prices of KD Wood mostly imported from Russia and Ukraine have soared many times, while the supply had dwindled.
“The Russia-Ukraine war has badly hit our timber business in Kashmir. This is the construction season here, we were expecting our business will double as there was lockdown from the past two seasons because of Covid19, but due to the war we are on the verge of complete breakdown this season too,” said Altaf Ahmad.
Altaf believes that their business is at a halt not only because of less supply of timber but also due to the less demand due to price rises as customers are reluctant to purchase at higher rates.
“There is the increase of 20% to 50% in the rates that has abruptly brought down the demand because customers are unable to purchase on such higher rates. We used to earn a good profit, but are presently on destruction mode where survival seems very much difficult,” said Altaf
Russia is one of the highest timber suppliers in the world and ranks as the seventh biggest exporter of forest products worldwide, which accounts for 22% of the global trade. And it clearly shows that the global market will continuously impact as long the Russia-Ukraine war continues. A country like China, which is in support of Russia in the conflict, has also been affected by limited trade sanctions as it depends on the import of timber, logs, and wood chips even for their domestic use.
Halted construction work
For Sajad, who was planning to complete the pending works of his newly built house and get married next year, the Russia- Ukraine conflict has brought a tsunami of hopelessness because the sudden surge in the timber rates has halted his plans of construction work and marriage back home, he feels it is unbearable to bear all the expenses in such a tough situation where other commodities all already in the surge.
“The sudden increase in timber rates halted all my construction works because, I was expected to purchase timber say for example for Rs 1 lakh, now it will cost me Rs 1.5 lakhs an increase of fifty thousand. Now, I am too confused about whether to do it or not,” said Sajad Ahmad from the Bemina area of Srinagar.
Showkat Ahmad another timber trader from North Kashmir says Ukraine timber was mostly used in Kashmir for the past couple of years as compared to Russian and German timber because Ukraine timber was available at cheaper rates. With a war going on in Ukraine the demand for German and Russia will arise, but it’s going very much costlier for customers.
“People prefer Ukraine timber because it’s easily affordable for them in contrast with German and Russian timber due to its low cost. The war in Ukraine has put everyone both (buyer and seller) in a catch22 situation because one doesn’t know what’s going to happen next,” says Showkat Ahmad who deals with the timber business for the past decade.
Business Kashmir visited various units in central and north Kashmir among them was Changa Timber Gallery, Sopore.
“I am into this business for the last one year but, I think this kind of situation will only benefit those dealers who have piles of stock available in the stores because they can increase rates on that stock which they have purchased at low rates earlier and a trader like me will go more into loss due to these unprecedented rates who’s new into this business and has very much less stock available at times,” says Aijaz Ahmad Changa, a 30-year-old BCom graduate.
Kashmiri Timber Traders mostly purchase timber from Gujarat and in Gujarat, they directly import the timber from Russia, Ukraine, and Germany. Business Kashmir contacted Singla Timbers Private Limited one of the oldest timber factories in Mithirhar, Gandhidham Gujarat who are in this business since 1946.
“The whole world is witnessing inflation it will remain for some time maybe for another year and there is also less supply of timber from the last few months because of that we are witnessing an increase in the rates of timber,” says Pulkit Singla director Singla Timbers.
“Kashmiri traders prefer Ukraine timber because of low price, but at the same time Ukraine timber also differs in quality in comparison to others.”
He says the lack of local wood production forces people to buy imported wood.
“India only imports 2% of the world produced timber. The local timber in India is not of that quality and one has gone through a long process before getting its access. The forests are like agricultural fields for countries like Russia and Ukraine, they cut the trees and do the plantation of it again and again but, in India, that thing is lacking. It’s also because of the weather,” he said.
Altaf and other timber traders in Kashmir are now waiting and praying for the end of the war in Ukraine so that their business will see that charm again.
“I only want the war in Ukraine to end, so that our miseries will also end,” concluded Altaf.
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