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Economy

Major industrial activities in J&K – II

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J&K's major industrial activities

Dhaar Mehak M

Major industrial activities in J&KThe informal sector is the part of an economy that is not registered with the relevant government authorities. The birth and growth of this sector is non-linear and follows no set pattern or the existing theoretical prediction. The empirical investigation following the developmental paths and trajectories of various developed and developing nations shows that birth, growth, decline and death hasn’t been the same. While the experiences of developed nations validate the eventual decline and end of the informal sector, the experiences of developing nations put the informal sector in an important position to usher in the process of industrial development.

In the developmental context of India, the informal sector has been an important source of providing sustenance to families, generating employment and meeting the local demand. Given the limited availability and access to public resources at the national level, the government policy and public sector have not been able to cater to the needs and demands of the people. As a coping strategy and a way out, people have found their ways towards the informal sector engagements. Over time the sector has rather shown an overall growth across the nation as against the prediction of the theories visualizing an end of this sector as one of the pre-requisites of development.

Agriculture for years has been a dominant economic activity in the region however mountain agriculture is not able to come out of subsistence to commercialization. As a result the returns from this sector have been low, pushing people out from it. Tourism has been another comparative advantageous economic venture in the region. Fragility and political instability has kept this sector from flourishing. As a result, people in J&K have steadily been pushed into the informal sector.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the trend corresponds to the national level evidence. The informal sector in the region has also registered growth over time as is validated by various national level data-sets including the NSSO and PLFS. Agriculture for years has been a dominant economic activity in the region however mountain agriculture is not able to come out of subsistence to commercialization. As a result, the returns from this sector have been low, pushing people out from it. Tourism has been another comparative advantageous economic venture in the region. Fragility and political instability have kept this sector from flourishing. As a result, people in J&K have steadily been pushed into the informal sector.

The Table ranks the dominant activities in the informal sector in Jammu and Kashmir as per the latest data availability. The ascendancy of these units points to their viability as low risk and viable profit ventures. Like the formal sector, the informal sector too mainly consists of need-based units. Most of the units deal in the retail sale of household perishable goods. These units which are in the form of shop establishments are found in all the localities of the region across rural and urban belts.

There is always business viability associated with these types of ventures. People from the households prefer to buy groceries from the nearest possible retailer and thus the normal profit is the least and assured return promised by these types of businesses. Tailoring activities rank just next. Given the changing seasons in Jammu and Kashmir and the distinct clothing style of both men and women, they prefer to stitch their clothes than buying ready-made and at the same time need different fabrics across the seasons. The investment in these ventures is small and can be household-based too. At the same time, this sector has the potential to empower women through household-based flexible employment.

J&K's major industrial activities

Being a consumer economy, the demand for all types of goods is very high in the region across the year, opening scope for the transportation industry. Over time there has been the development of the trend among the locals to invest in the freight transportation sector at the individual level. Though very popular among the lower-middle-class sector it has come to witness some decline in recent times due to a number of natural disasters and political fragility shocks. The current viability to invest in the sector is not too high however a huge number of existing informal sector participants is involved in this business activity.

Another related sector ranks just next. Despite the loss faced by the tourism sector the demand for Jammu and Kashmir tourism still exists in the country and across the globe. As a result, the taxi service in the region has been yet another promising venture in the informal sector. The use of taxi services has been rather limited among the people and startups like Kehwa and Jugmu cabs for the general public have just begun.

To begin with, the current major potential lies in the necessity-based industrial ventures. Based on the level of investment in hand both formal and informal sector are equally viable. If given proper consideration based on entrepreneurial instincts and government support, the businesses mentioned in formal and informal sector are low risk ventures.

The development of the beauty industry in the region appeared late but grew quick. Women especially have been involved in this sector. Opening and growth of the beauty parlours and salons can be seen spanning across the lengths and breadths of the region. This sector has especially shown growth in the region. Many women have opened these ventures inside their household premises making their operation flexible and demand localized. The local embroidery styles including hand Tilla and Aari are very famous across the globe. Families have been involved in these skill laden trades and have been passing on the same.

Both the demand and supply are high and being skill-based this sector always promises returns to the participants. The beginning of restaurant and café culture is equally novel in the region, the growth equally rapid! This sector has lately been growing and receiving an immense response, especially from the youth population. The startups in this industry have been doing well and the potential still exists for further diversification.

The construction and allied industry in Jammu and Kashmir, especially the Kashmir region has always had high-end potential given the local demand. As a result, the informal sector has shown some considerable growth in the manufacturing, production and sale of items corresponding to this sector. From the wood-based requirements to furniture and flooring and beyond the potential of this sector is yet to be explored completely. Given the innovations, people at the micro and household level can get involved in the customization of these items and expect a genuine profit and growth of the business over time.

From the analysis of both the formal and informal sectors in Jammu and Kashmir, it can be seen that the scope and potential of industrialization in the region is very high but specific. To begin with, the current major potential lies in the necessity-based industrial ventures. Based on the level of investment in hand both formal and informal sectors are equally viable. If given proper consideration based on entrepreneurial instincts and government support, the businesses mentioned in the formal and informal sectors are low-risk ventures. The future policymaking should be informed about the specific business potential in the region and the industrial policy push can be given based on these considerations.

Specialising in the industrial process of J&K, the author is a Senior Research Fellow in the University of Kashmir’s Economics Department. She can be reached at [email protected]

 

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Economy

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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Economy

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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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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