We the people here in Kashmir are suffering huge economic losses due to frequent and prolonged internet shutdowns. The occasional restoration to 2G speed is like being savages in a civilised world. To give you my own example, ever since the ban on internet and the use of social media in August last year, our factory has been greatly hit by losses. But it’s not just me who is affected; every single business unit in Kashmir, and the several employees that work there and their families, is seeing its business or trade go down. I have 10-12 people working under me, which include men and women who are highly educated and are trying to survive amid the massive unemployment in Kashmir. But the internet ban isn’t making that survival any easier.
The restoration of 2G internet is messing with our psyche even more. Our businesses survive through social media but the slow speed doesn’t let us post videos or big data files. Customers are not satisfied with services and people who aren’t patient enough to wait for several minutes to get a text through or to comment or book an order online are already in the list of opportunities lost. The slow speed is making us even more frustrated than the losses we have already suffered. It annoys us no end to have internet “restored” but still unusable. Not being able to do anything about this just adds to our despair. It’s not just me, there are hundreds like me whose business is wholly and solely dependent on internet.
It’s sad that all those families who have no role in any disturbance have to suffer because of such internet bans. It sounds pathetic to even be talking about social media bans in an era of advanced technology, that you cannot even talk to your friends or customers abroad and tell them that our internet is working at 2G speed, even saying which makes you feel insulted. Yet here we are, bleeding losses, businesses being shut down, and god knows what else is happening to the entrepreneurs who had somehow built their start-ups through social media. Start-ups are especially dependent on social media for reach and efficacy. When there is no social media to work with, it just messes up the chances of success and it’s sad because here in Kashmir we are in dire need of entrepreneurship as unemployment has been climbing peaks.
Ban on social media and high-speed internet is not at all helping to solve the problem in any way. Instead, it creates even more probability that people will give up their ideas of doing something with their life, charting their own paths, and giving employment to other people.
—The writer is an entrepreneur who runs
Himalayan Peaks Wood Industries