Consumer Interest

Eid is round the corner and within days the market will have an impressive appetite for almost everything – the apparels, shoe-wear, food and bakery. As happens every year, Kashmir would require around 250-300 thousand animals for the ritual sacrifice. This is the second occasion in a calendar year that triggers massive turnover.

Kashmir, over the decades, has emerged as one of the best consumer markets in northern India. If one goes by what finance minister has revealed recently then the market is growing by 20 percent this year. This obviously is based on the tax the government agencies collect for the imports into the state.
Requirement of the Kashmir market increases with every passing day as the consumption of food, vegetables, fruits and other items including the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) depicts.

Tragically, however, there are laws and rules but the system seems to be loaded against the consumer in Kashmir.

Take, for instanceapple which is Kashmir’s main mover and shaker of the peripheral economy. Srinagar, the most populous city in Kashmir, has a peculiar liking. It loves particular varieties. Right now it is the green apple – the golden delicious – that is the first choice of the consumer in the city. It sells at Rs 60 a kilogram. And people do not know that this apple does not command this price anywhere in India. By the way, the grower does not get the benefit. It is the retailer who makes the money.

Per capita, Kashmir consumes more mutton and poultry than any other people in the northern India. It could be around Rs 1500 crore economy. But nobody seems to be interested in knowing how the consumer is cheated.

Almost one third of the poultry birds that are imported into Kashmir are layers. These birds, usually weighing more than five kilograms are being sold at throwaway costs to the wholesalers in Kashmir who in turn sell to the consumer at routine rate.

At one point of time, there was an effort to control sale these birds that usually make the dog food. Within days, protests broke out in Punjab and Haryana and it created a situation that even the Prime Minister’s Office got involved at some level. Finally, a delegation of the poultry farmers was permitted to meet the policy makers and status quo ante was restored.

There are countless instance in which the dairy farmers, poultry farmers and the sheep growers besides lot many fruit growers and sellers who rely heavily on chemicals to increase the productivity. Some of these chemicals have carcinogenic ingredients. So far, there has not been any effort to track any of them and invoke the laws.

Kashmirs are as humans as others living in India. Why cannot their government protect their rights as consumers?

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