Fall in exports, rise in unemployment: GoI figures reveal dismal picture of J&K economy

Apr 1, 2021 | Economic Suppression

Srinagar: The Government of India (GoI) has released figures that show how much the Kashmir economy suffered in the past three years, two of which passed under consecutive lockdowns. This is for the first time the central government has released figures showing the health of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy.

According to the Union Ministry of Commerce, a fall of nearly 35 million US dollars was measured between 2019 and 2020 in J&K, a period during which the region was put under lockdown after abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

In 2019, more than 130 million US dollars worth of exports was measured, against just 97 million US dollars in 2020. The year 2018 was comparatively better, but far behind the peak of 2014, when exports of Jammu and Kashmir were at an all-time high, according to Sheikh Ashiq, former head of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

It is the international exports, followed by the domestic ones, that bring life to the Kashmir economy, apart from the money that the government pays to its employees and contractors. When there was a drop in exports, the economy shrunk. The fall in exports badly affected artisans, the drivers of the handicrafts sector, many of whom were left without work.

The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a think tank, recorded unemployment in India and ranked JK at fourth place in the list of highest unemployment rate in India. It found 14.2 percent unemployment in February 2021 alone, which is the worst national average. India’s national unemployment average is 7 percent.

Now in March, the markets in Kashmir Valley are down from what they used to be. Many businessmen in Srinagar say they don’t make any sales in the day. And this is despite the fact that a good chunk of domestic tourists have come to Kashmir since January and many more are expected to come, bringing life to the almost dead tourism sector.

Developmental projects aimed at creating jobs, too, seem to be making no difference.

Author: Junaid Nabi Bazaz
Publication: Kashmir Reader