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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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Integrated Farming System



Integrated Farming System

Kupwara woman runs profitable farm business with KVK assistance

Aijaz Ahmad Dar
Kaiser Mohiuddin Malik

Somia Sadaf, a native of Kupwara’s Batargam area has started her own dairy business. Sadaf has 10 Holliston Friesan and Jersey cows, 25 Kanal of irrigation land, and 200 Keystone Golden birds with technical help from Krishi Vigyan Kendra Kupwara. She uses a lawn cutter to maintain her property of land and cows.

Somia has also given instruction in the scientific raising and management of cows. She keeps herself up to date about new technologies regarding the maintenance of her land and the marketing of milk. She receives technical assistance for livestock illness management in order to optimise the production of milk and poultry. KVK continually performs and monitors the vaccination and deworming of animals at her farms.

Integrated Farming System

KVK has provided all assistance necessary to set up vermicompost pits so that cow manure is turned into a more lucrative vermicompost. Red worms have also been supplied by KVK for the pits. For additional revenue creation, KVK has also assisted in establishing 200 Keystone Golden-based backyard poultry farm. She has recently started fish farming under the NRLM. Somia’s farming is the best example of an integrated farming system, which can serve as a model for the rest of the farm women.

She manages to sell 150 kg of milk every day worth Rs 6,000. She collects 150 eggs and sells 100 eggs daily. Her daily poultry revenue is Rs 1500 and her daily net income is Rs 7500.

Her marketing plan includes selling products at Kisan Melas hosted by SKUAST Kashmir or the line departments, as well as supplying milk to nearby hotels and neighbours and eggs to neighbourhood clients.

Over the course of her entrepreneurial venture, her family has consistently supported her.

“Support from the family is highly commendable when it comes to managing and feeding cows,” says Somia.

Her accomplishment is partly a result of Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Kupwara’s ongoing technical assistance and supervision.

She was honoured with the district, state, national level and National Rural Livelihood Mission-related certifications, medals, prizes, nominations, and recognition as a successful woman entrepreneur.

Additionally, she has trained 200 farm women in knitting.

Integrated Farming System

Department of Animal Husbandry, Government of J&K, and Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kupwara, strengthen and encourage self-motivation in her to set up and run a livestock-based business.


Dr Kaiser Mohiuddin Malik is the head of KVK Kupwara and Dr Aijaz Ahmad Dar is an assistant professor of veterinary medicine at the Directorate of Planning and Monitoring, SKUAST-K

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New venture: Zero miles Grill and Cafe opens franchise in Handwara



New venture: Zero miles opens shop in Handwara

Syed Jesarat

Zero miles, a restaurant chain, opened a new outlet in Handwara. It had three outlets prior to the opening of this outlet, with each in Sopore, Bandipora, and Kupwara.

On October 3, 2022, the father of franchisee owner Adil Hussain Mir officially inaugurated their new Handwara outlet in the presence of Jibran Khan and Javed Mehru, the Zero Miles Cafe’s founders, the president of the Auqaf committee, and other local traders of Handwara. The north Kashmir reach has almost been achieved with this outlet opening.

New venture: Zero miles opens shop in Handwara

                            Jibran Khan

This year, according to the business’s owner Jibran Khan, one more outlet will be opened in the Ganderbal district. Additionally, new locations will be added in Chadora, Pampore, and Sumbal the next year.

Jibran states, “We have a plan for Srinagar as well, but for now we want to focus on North and South.”

Zero Miles is becoming well-known due to its high-quality meals, appealing ambience, and friendly service.

“Our menu is very vast, we cater to almost every age group, and people prefer our restaurant for our pleasing ambience,” says Jibran.

The zero miles franchise is providing employment to many youths in the valley as well, till now almost 40 people have been given employment.

The response from the public has been overwhelming, and the Handwara store, in particular, received a lot of ‘warm reactions’.

The biggest opening in Zero Miles’ history, according to Jibran, had a throng of around 200 individuals on opening day.

Jibran Khan, an MBA graduate, is going to elaborate further on his restaurant chain.

“It is going places with the best quality food and hospitality,” says Jibran.


Address: 2nd Floor, Hayati Complex Oppositie JK Bank Main Branch Handwara

Contact No.: 9541578710; 7889802425

Home delivery available within the town

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New venture: Vintage Bakery opens shop in Jawahar Nagar



Vintage Bakery, Jawahar Nagar

Syed Jesarat

Vintage Bakery, a premium place for cookies, cakes, doughnuts, pastries, pies and other specialised baked items, was recently opened in the city.

A 32-year-old MBA graduate, Rakif Khan has established a bakery in Jawahar Nagar, Srinagar. The primary idea is to concentrate on premium bakeries, which prioritizes quality.

Vintage Bakery, Jawahar Nagar

Rakif Khan

Rakif recalls, “In the ancient days, our elders used to say in our era, we had the best quality but now everything is artificial or deteriorated.”

“We at Vintage Bakery strove to return to that quality on a realistic basis since.”

The concept was basically laid out in 2021, but it was implemented this year only. The first retail location of the premium baked goods manufacturer Vintage Bakery, which is located close to the DAV School in Jawahar Nagar, opened on September 15, 2022. The brand’s founder and managing director, Rakif Khan, claims that the business embodies the taste of Kashmiri people who uphold quality in all areas, notably food.

“Idea wasn’t implemented last year because of certain issues regarding shifting and reassembling everything, it wasn’t feasible last year,” says Rakif Khan.

“Given that our products are consistent of a high quality, we expect a big growth in demand,” he says.

According to him, Kashmiris are ardent bakery lovers. “We restate our position to serve the second to none quality with this shop in Jawahar Nagar,” he told the reporter.

“The proportionate flavour of an edible reveals the quality raw material used in the making,” he further says.

Previously, Rakif had opened a franchise of a well-known bakery but wanted to establish his own label or brand.

In Kashmir, a bakery is one of the most consumed products, and as the quality of this industry declines, the vintage bakery steps in and claims to be one of the best.

Rakif claims, “We are a transparent bakery; one may come and see how we operate and what ingredients we use.”

Vintage Bakery, Jawahar Nagar

Vintage Bakery

The vintage bakery has also been a step toward employment as a newly opened location, they have so far hired 4-5 staff members. Also, apart from employees an executive bakery chef, head bakery chef, junior bakery chef, outlet manager, social media manager, and driver make up the Vintage bakery workforce.

The concept behind the term vintage is connected to people’s past recollections from a time when the bakery was free of contaminated goods. The name vintage is tied to old school.

“I cherish the old-time quality, love, purity, and everything because I’m an old-school person,” adds Rakif.

With a purely vintage theme, Vintage Bakery will develop this brand further. Since the bakery is still new, the proprietor is currently primarily concentrating on this outlet.

Among other eateries, the bakery creates bespoke theme cakes for weddings.

Rakif states, “We are so certain and comfortable with our quality that we can easily carry it for our parents and children without fearing the adulterated food.”

The vintage bakery is accessible online and provides home delivery. The bakery operates in the centre of the city with a team of dedicated employees. Customers in Srinagar would be able to rely on the bakery to meet their regular bakery demands.

Bakery is a good startup with a lot of potentials.

Rakif asserts that “Kashmir has traditionally been a centre for bakeries and people here value bakeries.”

Young businesspeople, in Rakif’s opinion, should always be prepared to take the first step, should not be frightened to do so, and should work diligently to carry out the plan without rushing.

Address: Jawahar Nagar near DAV School

Contact No: 8082467150

Delivering available across Srinagar

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