Death of Indigenous Industry

Death of Indigenous Industry

The mainstays of Kashmir’s economy, to posit a cliché are handicrafts, horticulture and tourism. In this sense Kashmir’s economy is still a somewhat agrarian economy despite the depletion of agricultural land which has now become commoditized here.  By almost all metrics and indices , these sectors of our economy are getting defunct. Yes, Kashmir is still a repository of apples, and shawls and carpets are sold as “purely” indigenous and native products and so on but the fact of the matter is that the condition and quality of all these is fast deteriorating.  Consider shawls and carpets and an unrelated industry, horticulture. Kashmiri shawls have so been denuded of their quality that it takes a specialist’s eye to discern whether a shawl in contention is genuine, a pale imitation or just a shoddy product sold under the generic brand name of “Made in Kashmir”.  The same, albeit in a different permutation and combination, holds true for carpets. Horticulture which various administration tout as a potential mainstay of the economy is suffering. Our horticultural produce hold water again largely by virtue of brand association with Kashmir. The economics of brands and branding suggests that brand association can last only till a finite amount of time unless buttressed and underpinned by quality. The question is :why has the quality of our industry and the  produce and products thereof plummeted?  The answer may lie in regulatory laxity and the sorry state of implementation, rather lax and poor industrial policy and unethical practices by persons associated with industry in the quest of “supernormal” profits. As a result, our industry has suffered to the extent of being almost defunct. Can this abysmal state of affairs be improved upon? Yes is the unqualified answer. Recovery or even elevating our industry to heights falls in the domain of the possible. It would require a synthesis of prudent, business and industry policy paradigms with a wide latitude for markets.  This is insofar as the “ the supply side” of the industry and policy implications thereof are concerned . In terms of the consumer, business to business(B2B) and Business to Consumer(B2C) is concerned, ethical orientation and approach is the sine qua non of success. Native businesspersons must understand the gravity of the situation and improve their supply and value chains in accordance with quality standards, international benchmarks and above all ethics. In combination, these measures can revive and revitalize our indigenous industries. Neglect, however, can steepen and worsen the decline, if not death of Kashmir’s industry. The time for action is now!

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