A Closed Chapter

Hartals had significant economic and social impacts on the daily lives of people in Kashmir

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“The calendar about hartals, opening of schools and violence used to come from Pakistan. I have been told that eight years ago, ten-and eleven-year-old children used to check identity cards of people on streets. Now J&K administration formulates the calendar about schools and colleges which is being implemented. Even business go as usual, now more diktats are being followed by the business community here,” said Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor (LG) Manoj Sinha on Monday at the inaugural session of Shikhar Samagam.

“In four years, we have travelled that much distance which was unimaginable to people. And we have framed a roadmap of next 25 years about the changes going to happen in Jammu and Kashmir.”

He said they have a roadmap for J&K for the next 25 years stating that the conflict entrepreneurs were not happy with the situation in valley post August 2019 and in first seven months 1.27 crore tourists have already visited the region.

“The days of exploitation are over. In Kashmir it was difficult to differentiate between a ‘rehbar’ (guide) and a ‘rehzan’ (who would loot),” he added.

The tourism, he said has played a big role in Kashmir’s economy. The message has gone across the country that J&K is visitable. Last year 1.88 crore visitors, including Vaishno Devi and Amaranth pilgrims, had come last year and this year till July the number is 1.27 crore.

About the reports of why Kashmir writers were removed from books, he said they were not writers. “They would spew venom. They had made the curriculum here as such that the youth would get destroyed. How to develop scientific temper in children? NEP- our education departments have worked hard to implement that,” he added.

A Closed Chapter here refers to Hartal Pakistan sponsored separatist groups have historically called for thus damaging economy of Kashmir for last over three decades.

During a hartal, businesses and public transportation used to remain closed, and people were encouraged to stay indoors.

The calendars of hartals were issued by various Pakistan sponsored separatist groups. These calendars typically used outline the dates on which hartals are to be observed and may also include other instructions or guidelines for protesters.

It’s worth noting here that hartals had significant economic and social impacts on the daily lives of the people in Kashmir, as businesses suffer losses, and routine activities were badly disrupted during these strikes.

The frequent hartals and shutdowns in Kashmir have had a significant impact on education in the region. When Pakistan backed separatist groups or other organizations called for hartals, they often demand a complete shutdown of businesses, including educational institutions. As a result, schools, colleges, and universities remained closed during these strikes, leading to disruptions in the academic calendar.

The loss of education due to hartals in Kashmir had several implications:

Academic Disruptions: The frequent closures of educational institutions disrupted the regular academic schedule, leading to missed classes, examinations, and important learning opportunities. This can have long-term consequences for students’ academic progress and performance.

Learning Gap: The continuous disruptions created learning gaps, as students miss out on vital educational content and classroom interactions. This affected their overall learning outcomes and ability to keep up with the curriculum.

Exam Preparations: The closures often coincided with examination periods, resulting in delays and uncertainties for students preparing for important exams. This situation increased in stress and anxiety among students and impact their performance in examinations.

Impact on Teachers: Hartals also affected the livelihood of teachers and other educational staff who did not receive their regular salaries during these shutdowns. This financial uncertainty further exacerbated the challenges faced by educators.

Psychological Impact: The prolonged and repeated disruptions due to hartals had psychological impact on students and educators alike. The uncertainty and stress caused by the frequent closures affected mental health and well-being.

Efforts to address the loss of education due to hartals in Kashmir have been a subject of concern for parents, educators, and policymakers. Authorities the then have often tried to reschedule classes and exams, but the recurring nature of hartals had made it difficult to maintain a stable and conducive learning environment.

Besides, Education, hartals and shutdowns in Kashmir have had a significant impact on the economy. When Pakistan backed separatist groups called for hartals, they demand a complete shutdown of businesses, markets, and transportation, resulting in economic disruptions and financial losses for various sectors.

Here are some ways in which hartals have affected the economy in Kashmir:

Loss of Productivity: During hartals, businesses remain closed, and daily economic activities come to a standstill. This led to a loss of productivity for industries and enterprises, impacting their revenues and profitability.

Income Loss for Workers: Hartals resulted in income loss for daily wage workers, laborers, and small business owners who depend on daily earnings. With businesses closed, these individuals often found themselves without work and without income for the day.

Impact on Tourism: The tourism industry, which is a significant source of revenue for Kashmir, suffered immensely during hartals. Tourists tend to cancel their plans or avoid visiting the region altogether during periods of unrest, resulting in losses for hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and related businesses.

Disruption to Trade and Supply Chains: The shutdown of markets and transportation used to disrupt trade and supply chains. Businesses faced difficulties in receiving raw materials, and finished goods did not reach the markets, leading to inventory losses and supply shortages.

Negative Investment Climate: Frequent hartals create an uncertain investment climate in the region. Investors were hesitant to invest in a place with regular disruptions and uncertainties, leading to a slowdown in economic development.

Impact on Government Revenue: The government also faced revenue losses during hartals, as businesses remain closed, resulting in reduced tax collections and other government revenues.

Strain on Public Finances: The government had to allocate additional resources to manage the law and order situation during hartals, diverting funds from other developmental projects.

(This article was first published in daily Greater Kashmir under the byline Shabir Ibn e Yousuf)

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