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National Statistics Day: Status of ‘End Hunger’ in J&K

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Status of ‘End Hunger’ in J&K

Altaf Hussain Haji

Crowdfunding for businesses in J&KHunger is a burning issue for every UN member country. This is the reason that commemorations of this year’s National Statistics Day in our country has been aligned to create awareness about hunger as per the UN target of Sustainable Development Goals. In India, Statics Day is celebrated every year on June 29 in remembrance of Prof  PC Mahalanobis for his contribution in the field of economic, planning and statistics. The theme of this year Statistics Day, June 29, 2021, is ‘End Hunger, Achieve Food Security and Improved Nutrition’. Hunger and malnutrition badly affect the development and wellbeing of the States/UTs of the nation and the progress of the reduction of percentages of hunger at the national level is still off track. Jammu and Kashmir is also among one of the UTs where hunger exists as per the current report of SDG released by the government of India. There is also a long road ahead to reduce hunger and malnutrition by or before 2030 in Jammu and Kashmir.

Undernourishment, malnutrition and wasting are different ways of hunger found in every country in the world. Undernourishment occurs when people do not intake enough calories to meet minimum physiological needs. Malnutrition is caused when the peoples have an inadequate intake of protein, energy and micronutrients. The third way of hunger is wasting which usually the result of starvation or disease of acute malnutrition with substantial weight loss.

 Status of ‘End Hunger’ in J&K

As we know that second goal of Sustainable Development with agenda Zero Hunger is one of the important goals out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It is to mention here that the United Nations (UN) General Assembly held on September 25,  2015, adopted the document titled “Transforming our World with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.  The SDGs are a comprehensive list of global goals integrating social, economic and environmental dimensions of development. Zero Hunger is the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2) with the aim to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. The SDG2 has 7 targets such as beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, children under five years who are underweight, children under five years who are stunted, pregnant women and adolescents aged 10- 19 years who are anaemic, the rice and wheat produced annually per unit area (Kg/Ha) and Gross Value Added (constant prices) in agriculture per worker (in lakhs/workers)  to measure the availability of food, improvement in nutrition and promotion of sustainable agriculture respectively.

The composite index score of the UT Jammu and Kashmir in SDG-2 goal has improved by 8 points from 62 in 2019-20 to 70 in 2020-21 as per SDG report 2020-21 released by NITI Aayog.  The UT Jammu and Kashmir among the Seven States and four UTs bagged a position in the category of Front Runners and said as the increase in overall score, the Jammu and Kashmir in Sustainable Development Goals will achieving Zero hunger in time.

Here are some indicators of Jammu and Kashmir in comparison at national level figure regarding the progress of End hunger by or before 2030 of the agenda of SDGs.

At the national level the percentage of beneficiaries covered during 2019-20 under the National Food Security Act, 2013 ((NFSA) is 99.51 percent and for UT Jammu and Kashmir, it is 97.02 percent achievement as the target fixed to achieve it 100 percent by 2030.

At the national level, the percentage of children under five years who are underweight is 33.4 percent and for UT Jammu and Kashmir, it is 13 percent as the target to reduce it 1.9 percent.

At the national level, the percentage of children under five years who are stunted is 34.7 percent and for UT Jammu and Kashmir, it is 15.5 as the target to reduce it 6 percent.

At the national level, the percentage of pregnant women aged 15-49 years who are anaemic is 50.4 percent and for UT Jammu and Kashmir, it is 38.1 as the target is to reduce it  25.2 percent.

At the national level, the percentage of adolescents aged 10-19 years who are anaemic is 28.4 percent and for UT Jammu and Kashmir, it is 15.8 as the target is to reduce it to 14.2 percent.

The rice and wheat produced annually per unit area (Kg/Ha) was found 2995.21 Kg/Ha at the national level and for UT Jammu and Kashmir it is 2339.65 Kg/Ha as the target is to achieve it 5322.08 Kg/Ha

The Gross Value Added (constant prices) in agriculture per worker (in Lakhs/worker) was calculated as 0.71 at the national level and for UT Jammu and Kashmir, it is 0.88   as the target is to achieve it 1.22.

The above indicators pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir showed that there is still a long road ahead to reduce hunger and malnutrition by or before 2030 in Jammu and Kashmir and it is too difficult to achieve or reduce targets due to disturbance and law and order situation, unique features and a strategic location. Further, the index score at the national level for end hunger is 47 while UT Jammu and Kashmir have 71 which seems that the situation is somehow better.

As UT Jammu and Kashmir have unique features and a strategic location, the speedy sustainable development of Jammu and Kashmir needs an integrated approach. The top priority of the government should be to create a secure environment by improving the law and order situation. State finance should also receive proper attention in order to ensure better fiscal management. 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 and is able to achieve the SDGs well in time. Further, there should be a sizable increase in the utilisation of funds for rural development schemes in the UT and the pace of implementation of programmes needs to be accelerated.

Also, efforts are needed for the development of infrastructure, generation of employment and alleviation of poverty in rural areas 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. Such a study would help in assessing the ground realities of the impact of various schemes on the social and economic conditions of people inhabiting these areas.

At the last, I want to mention here that by working on SDG2 last few years, the measures are taken such as promoting sustainable agriculture, supporting small-scale farmers and creating equal access to land, technology and markets in order as a fundamental rule to the eradication of hunger in Jammu and Kashmir, a number of initiatives have been taken by the Government of India and UT government to ensure food for all and has launched food security programmes owing to the National Food Security Act, 2013. The stress on sustainable agriculture may be observed from the fact that one of the missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) is the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA). In the end, as per the current report, UT Jammu and Kashmir have made significant progress in the area of food security despite having several challenges.

Altaf Hussain Haji, ISS, is Deputy Director General National Statistical Office, Shimla. He can be contacted at altafhh@rediffmail.com

 

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Women shaping informal sector in Kashmir

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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 dhaarmehak@gmail.com

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Rural mart inaugurated under NABARD scheme

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Rural mart inaugurated under NABARD

BK NEWS

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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Wood shortage, high prices due to Russia-Ukraine war affect timber business in Kashmir

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Wood Shortage high prices

Malik Nisar

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.

Wood Shortage high prices

“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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