WHILE the first anniversary of the rescinding of Article 370 witnessed an overwhelming focus on the political fallout of the move, the impact on the economy has received scant attention. More so, when the region’s economy has been under a complete lockdown for a year now. According to the estimate by the business bodies this has led to a loss of over Rs 50,000 crore. The Covid-19 lockdown that was enforced in March over and above the prevailing security siege has inflicted a crushing blow to the state turned union territory’s economy.
Tourism, one of the mainstays of the local economy came to a halt and is unlikely to emerge from the slump anytime soon. This has hit the hotel industry and travel operators hard. The handicrafts sector that is tied to tourism has too been crushed. The IT industry and the start-ups that had been wiped out are only now attempting to revive. Horticulture, a Rs 6500 crore industry, that employs around three million people has suffered the heaviest loss. During its harvest time last year, successive killings of the traders and labourers associated with the apple industry had for a while stopped the export of the trees outside the Valley. And this year again the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t augur well for the harvest season.
This has created a desperate situation. More so, with uncertainty deepening over the world’s and especially India’s ability to control the pandemic in near future. India’s Covid-19 cases are now one of the fastest growing in the world. With over 2 million cases, the country’s healthcare system has reached a point of collapse. In Kashmir too the exponential rise of cases has strained the medical infrastructure. The consequent need for a lockdown has killed the hope for an early revival of the economy. The region can hardly endure the closure of businesses any more. Kashmir economy is thus in desperate need for a government support. It needs a bit of help over and above what has been given to country’s economy in recent stimulus.
Kashmir is now looking forward to a post-Coronavirus period and hopes it remains peaceful. The region has already been through a long period of disruption, so businessmen are pinning hope on near future. We can only hope that world is able to get a handle on this deadly virus and we get back to a normal life. The region can ill-afford further halt to the economic activities.
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