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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 [email protected]

 

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Economy

Omicron, economy and budget deficits

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Omicron economy budget deficits

Dr BinishQadri

The World Health Organization on November 26, 2021, labelled variant B.1.1.529 a variant of great alarm, named Omicron, on the advice of WHO’s Technical Advisory on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE). Extensive evidence was presented to this advisory that Omicron has several mutations affecting its behaviour.

Research is coming up at different levels to get hold of different aspects of Omicron in a better way.  There is much ambiguity about whether there is more transmission in Omicron as compared to other variants, including the Delta variant. South Africa has seen the number of people testing positive increasing as a result of this variant. Many epidemiologic studies are in progress that aims at knowing if the positive cases are rising because of Omicron or some other factors.

One of the biggest aims of economies is resource allocation involving a balance between our priorities and competing needs so as to get the most suitable economic action. Any fiscal policy demands a judicious attitude in pursuing the goal of resource allocation and distribution. Fiscal discipline should reduce fluctuations in income, output, and employment.

Whether it is omicron or anything else the fact is that all facets of the current pandemic have in one way or the other way affected economies of the world in general and underdeveloped in particular. It is very important to correct all economic and social odds.

Fiscal indiscipline is an important characteristic related to all shocks of all times and COVID19 is no exception. Fiscal indiscipline implies that our governments are not maintaining good fiscal positions that coincide with macroeconomic stability and economic growth that is all-inclusive and sustained. Borrowing in large numbers and amassing debt like anything are enemies of every economy. The dual actions are responsible for the creation of fiscal crunches. To achieve the target of Fiscal discipline it is necessary for governments to maintain fiscal positions that are consistent with macroeconomic stability and economic growth that is sustained by letter and spirit. In order to create and maintain fiscal etiquette, there should be an avoidance of debt accumulation and excessive borrowing.

One of the biggest aims of economies is resource allocation involving a balance between our priorities and competing needs so as to get the most suitable economic action. Any fiscal policy demands a judicious attitude in pursuing the goal of resource allocation and distribution. Fiscal discipline should reduce fluctuations in income, output, and employment. COVID19 and all its variants no doubt have generated fiscal indiscipline which is why all governments should be prudent to create ‘‘budgetary beanbags’’ to combat all shocks and disturbances and to deal with anticipated economic and fiscal burdens.

Economists surveyed by Reuters argue that economies should emphasize fiscal judiciousness as there is a declining trend in the Indian economy. Lead Economist at Emkay Global Financial Services, Madhavi Arora argues that Omicron and the allied bad repercussions have a short end and is in no way a long-lasting wave.

A fiscal deficit connotes a gap in a government’s income compared with its spending thereby meaning that there is a fiscal dearth in the government spending beyond its means. There is a dip in the fiscal deficit from 135.1% in the April-November period of the previous financial year to 46.2% in the current financial year. There is a need for fiscal consolidation and all the fiscal policies carried out by the government at all levels must aim at reducing their deficits and debt stock build-up.

In order to understand Omicron and its impact on the Indian economy and other emerging markets, planners need to Google and start thinking about consolidating their budget deficits post COVID19 years. They need to include a series of fiscal responsibility laws, fiscal guidelines, and fiscal assistance (dynamic organizations in particular).

The strategy and implementation policy, alongside economic (fiscal) and political commitment are necessary and sufficient conditions for the effective strengthening of fiscal discipline during shocks.

Dr Binish Qadri is an assistant professor at the Department of Economics, University of Kashmir. You can reach her at [email protected]

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UAE delegation announces establishment of Kashmir Business Centre in Dubai: KCCI

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Kashmir Business Centre in Dubai

Malik Nisar

Srinagar: To facilitate J&K-based startups and entrepreneurs in Gulf countries for opening their operations, the UAE-based visiting business delegation has announced to open Kashmir Business Centre in Dubai, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) said in a press conference on Tuesday.

A 30-member UAE business delegation is on a four-day official visit to Jammu and Kashmir to explore the investment opportunities in the region.
President, KCCI, Sheikh Ashiq said during an interaction meeting with the local business community, the UAE-based delegation announced that a Kashmir Business Centre will be set up in Dubai for providing support to J&K-based entrepreneurs and connecting them to the relevant people there.
Ashiq said, KCCI not only welcomes the announcement but with the consent of the government will try its best that it materialises. He said the centre will also prove fruitful for a large number of youth, who go there in search of jobs.
Secretary General of KCCI, Farooq Amin, added that the business centre will provide an opportunity to young entrepreneurs who want to explore their new ideas but do not find them viable here. He said these new entrepreneurs will get the chance to explore their innovative ideas in the global market. The business centre will be more kind of an incubation facility, he added.
Amin said some of these youngsters have already presented their business ideas in the meeting and received applause from the UAE delegation. They will now directly contact these young entrepreneurs and will invest in their business.
Sheikh Ashiq said they are also mulling to send a J&K business delegation comprising of all the sectors to UAE for exploring the market for various kinds of produce and handicrafts there.
While welcoming the delegation for their investment proposals in J&K, KCCI hoped that local businessmen will be also included in their plans.
Ashiq said the delegation will also prove beneficial for the tourism promotion of the region as they will spread the word about the beauty and culture of Kashmir.
“We also told them that we need more international connectivity and we want global market should open for our people. Through these initiatives the unemployment rate can be brought down,” Ashiq said.

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Economy

Editorial | Ambitious Budget

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Ambitious Budget

Ambitious Budget | This week Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the third consecutive annual budget of J&K in the Lok Sabha. The J&K Budget is required to be passed in the Indian Parliament as the newly formed Union Territory continues to be under the President’s rule and due to the absence of the Legislative Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir.

The finance minister presented an outlay of about Rs 1.13 lakh crore for the J&K Budget 2022-23. The budget has seen an increase of about Rs 4500 crore from the budget estimate of the financial year 2021-22. However, the revised estimate for 2021-22 shows an increase of Rs 10,000 crore.

As per the revised estimates for 2021-22, there has been a huge shortfall of estimated tax collection and other resource generation, which has proven a big handicap for the J&K Government in fulfilling its development targets.

In this year’s budget presentation, like the previous one, the focus has been put on the capital expenditure – the portion of the estimate spent on asset creation and infrastructure building, which is a positive development. However, the biggest challenge, as witnessed in the previous years, is that despite allocating funds in the budget for various sectors and projects for development works, there is either lack of resources or the inability of different departments to spend the allocations.

Take the example of Jal Shakti or the Public Health Engineering Department. In the budget of 2021-22 highest capital expenditure of Rs 6346 crore was allocated to Jal Shakti, which was more than a 400% increase. But the revised estimate presented by the Union FM shows that only Rs 2107 crore were spent, which indicates either lack of resources or an inability of the department to undertake the development works. However, a deeper analysis of the budget documents and other publicly available information suggests that both the unavailability of funds and the incapability of the administration to spend are the reasons behind it. The same is the case with many other government departments.

The revenue receipts were short of almost Rs 13,000 crore as per the budget estimate of 2021-22. Similarly, the fiscal deficit during the same period rose to Rs 16,456 against the target of Rs 10,647. The debt to GDP ratio has increased to 53% as compared to 46% in the financial year 2020-21.

As per the revised estimates for 2021-22, there has been a huge shortfall of estimated tax collection and other resource generation, which has proven a big handicap for the J&K Government in fulfilling its development targets. The revenue receipts were short of almost Rs 13,000 crore as per the budget estimate of 2021-22. Similarly, the fiscal deficit during the same period rose to Rs 16,456 against the target of Rs 10,647. The debt to GDP ratio has increased to 53% as compared to 46% in the financial year 2020-21.

The J&K Budget 2022-23 has set an ambitious target of asset creation and infrastructure development in the UT. If there are no unspent budget allocations and all these targets are completed, J&K will witness remarkable changes in the development front.

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