Kashmir’s Eroding Economy


Kashmir valley is land locked territory where money flows devoid of frequent strikes regularlyNature has gifted this land with wealth in its mountains, forests, rivers, planes, fallows, meadows, orchards , gardens & fields with full of crops.  Be it work in agriculture fields, orchards, machines, construction work, art & culture we are world over respected for the hospitality we offer to visitors. Once we had our own system of skilled & unskilled labour class.

Before the invention of mechanised machines &   pesticides, our farm labours used to do farming with bare hands. Carpenters, masons, tailors, coblers, barbers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, shepherds & cow boys had their own style of working & standard of living. Before two decades, whole scenario got changed. The reasons may be different, but the loss of revenue affected directly the life style of people. Kashmirs own workforce showed an ever decreasing participation in skilled and unskilled sectors, leaving millions of day-jobs for out of state labour from different states of India  about six lakh unskilled and skilled labourers engaged in different jobs  in Kashmir.An estimated 30 Cr daily, 900 Cr Monthly & 1008 Cr Anually goes to the pockets of outside labours from Kashmir.  From snacks sellers to hawkers, from plumbers to carpenters, and barbers to masons, it is non local labour. Kashmiri craftsmen are also switching over to other occupations because returns from crafts are diminishing with shrinking market share. The height of things is that our Agriculture sector  is totally dependent on non local labours, which has increased its cost benefit ratio. People associated with agriculture have left this sector, due to low output. The main reason being that our farming is unplanned. If we analyse our with other states, it is of different types. They divide farms into different parts. Where water is aviliable in abundance, it is reserved for Paddy, dry land for those crops, which require less irrigation & 30% for vegetable crops. Though they get one crop more than us.

Another is a trend  here is urge for government employment, which makes people strive for such opportunities. Youth with low qualifications run after govt jobs and waste precious time of working ours in futile exercises.Our  traditional crafts  are lost. People prefer nonlocal  labourers to locals because of difference in wages and output.  Our elders used to take forward their family crafts like farming, carpentry, etc. After they enlightened themselves with learning, there was a change in their mindset that left doors open for a ‘social change.  It is a fact that Education and knowledge broadens the mind, but in case of Kashmiris it proved false as they found it below their dignity to continue with their ancestral vocations to avoid the disgrace of caste system related to our work.

Mindset of looking down at a craft was strengthened so much that manual worker, or association with lower classes of society, is considered to be a social stigma. Another fact is that People prefer not be married into families involved in these ‘low class jobs.” With the result, our  youth looked for jobs that have more acceptance in the society, especially the middle class and only few of them find such jobs, the rest run from pillar to post to get a government job and waste a major part of their lives in such attempts.

We people allow outsiders to take up job opportunities.  If we didn’t leave our ancestral vocations, such a condition would not have arise. As per Census 2011, there were five to six lakh non-local labourers engaged in different vocations in Kashmir. They include both skilled and un-skilled work class. From Qazigund to Baramulla you will not a single  kashimir working in the fields. An estimated 30 crore & 360 cr anually. During winters, many of the non-skilled workers choose to leave the valley. However, some skilled workers stay back to work through the cold season. In most cases, due to the extended stay that their work entails, they bring their families with them. Some are even married in Kashmir. Before de­cades there were no slums, but due to continuous flow of the non local labourers ’ in the valley, slums can be seen everywhere.  The main reason for hiring non local labours is Laziness of indigenous labours &  earning money through shortcuts is pulling Kashmiris off the skill ladder. They’ll choose begging instead of working.

Kashmiris attitude & prosperty is another reason of adopting outsiders. They claim that they earn & save more here than in  Dubai .Here, expenditure is less and travelling is not as big an issue and labourers who come to Kashmir are able to save more than those who work in other states.

There is need of proper planning in trades & business habits. We have huge scope of different sectors. We need to become Entrepreneurs & not the dependents. We have faced situations of 2008, 2010 , 2016 & have learned to survive. We have vast scope of leather industry, tea, processing of fruit juice, meat producing & timber. We should to start these industries, instead of searching govt jobs. Before that we have to adopt our own labour class skilled & unskilled, make them understand to work honestly & with zeal. We should follow the schedule of other states, we’re labour starts his day at 5:00am & works up to noon & in the evenings only. Govt has come to the rescue of labour class by introducing insurance policies, it also will help them in standing on their own feets. Every youth of Kashmir must work for 6 days a week. We are wasting man days, which is disastrous for our economy. If we use our hands which has been gifted to us for earning livelyhood, soon we will whole scenario changed.


Minimum Wage in Jammu & Kashmir with effect from November 1, 2017

Sr. No. Scheduled Employment Category of Workers
Un-Skilled Skilled Highly Skilled Ministerial/Administrative/Acccounts Staff
Total Minimum Wages (In Rs)
1 Agriculture 225 350 400 325
2 Auto Body Fabrication 225 350 400 325
3 Brick Kiln 225 350 400 325
4 Cinema 225 350 400 325
5 Construction Industry 225 350 400 325
6 Embroidery including Chain Stitching 225 350 400 325
7 Forest 225 350 400 325
8 Hair Cutting Saloons 225 350 400 325
9 Hotel/Restaurants, Tea Stall & Cinema 225 350 400 325
10 Ice Factory and Cold Storage 225 350 400 325
11 Light Engineering Works 225 350 400 325
12 Local Authority Municipalities and Town Area Committees 225 350 400 325
13 Manufacturing of Wood products 225 350 400 325
14 Manufacturing of Food products 225 350 400 325
15 Manufacturing of Soap and Detergents 225 350 400 325
16 Manufacturing of Tailoring and Ammunitions 225 350 400 325
17 Manufacturing of Sports Goods 225 350 400 325
18 Manufacturing of Tailoring of Garments 225 350 400 325
19 Manufacturing of Drinks and Breweries 225 350 400 325
20 Manufacturing of Medicines Hospitals Equipments 225 350 400 325
21 Manufacturing of Metal Steel Utensils 225 350 400 325
22 Motor Transport 225 350 400 325
23 Oil Mills 225 350 400 325
24 Private Brick and Tile Making 225 350 400 325
25 Private Transport Industries 225 350 400 325
26 Rice, Flour & Dal Mill 225 350 400 325
27 Rosin and Turpentine Products 225 350 400 325
28 Silicate Chemical Works 225 350 400 325
29 Shops and Establishments 225 350 400 325
30 Steel Metal Rolling Mills 225 350 400 325
31 Stone Breaking or Stone Crushing 225 350 400 325
32 Tanneries & Leather Manufacturing. 225 350 400 325
33 Wood Carving 225 350 400 325
34 Woolen Carpet making and shawl weaving 225 350 400 325
35 Workshop 225 350 400 325

(The Author is a freelancer .View are his own)


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