The duration of lock downs for different regions due coronavirus pandemic, as of now stretches from two to three months. But the territory Jammu and Kashmir is under more stringent lockdown from last ten months. The natives of it are encountering these lockdowns with pronouncements often for days, or weeks and sometimes even months.
This is a new normal from as long as a decade ago, since the Intifada style of resistance was seen after 2008 Amarnath Yatra land row. The markets being shut with logistics clogged since August of the preceding year. The traders have earned nothing to meager for months. No doubt!
Unlike the rest of the world, people living here are known to live under these circumstances, but the timely impetus to local economy is indeed! Need of the hour. The countries are looking for different ways to kick start economic activities regionally, nationally and even globally.
Eid is around the corner. The religious scholars and others have appealed the people to not spend money purchasing new clothes or footwear this Eid. Instead they insist them to help those who are facing hardships due recurrent lockdowns. They appeal shoppers not to throng to market places to do shopping for Eid-ul -fitr. They have their perspective but what is preached might do less good than anticipated.
As by not spending they are restricting the domain of service. Even buying from a local store instead of branded outlet is service in its own way. It is not only those who do not work, or can’t work suffer. Those who can work but don’t have the opportunity to work also suffer although if not in equal terms.
Keeping this backdrop in mind, it seems pertinent to spend to help rather than relying only on alms giving. There are many reasons to support spending this Eid. Let us understand it further. There are three classes of people who suffered the most. They are; destitute who can’t work, small traders and daily wagers.
As responsible fellows we have to take care of everyone. Its our religious as well as civic duty. But helping all the three classes simultaneously is difficult though. Let us sail deeper for better understanding.
As per NHFS-3 (national health family survey), average household size of J&K is 5.7. The sadqa-e-fitr as calculated against wheat (2kg/head) averages Rs 55/ head or Rs 313/family. If calculated against raisins (3Kg/head) costs around Rs1000/head or Rs 5700/family.
As for sadqa-e-fitr and fidyah people reach to those who belong to first category. And statistically it seems sound as well, since as per last year’s economic survey; around 10.35% people in the J&K are living under BPL. And not all among this 10.35% need help of others.
So it is around 80-85% (eligible for paying sadqa-e-fitr) reaching out to less than 10.35% people, on an average paying between Rs 313 and Rs 5700. Also, as per 68th round of NSS (2011-12), the average monthly per capita expenditure for J&K stands at Rs1601.51. Thus if sadqa-e-fitr is targeted in right way can heal the disaster for some time.
For the second category of people who are marginal or small traders, they earn when people spend and not save. They are the ones most in need as they bore the brunt of the lockdowns the most. To help them is to spend more. As consumer spending directly goes to their pockets. Spending more will also facilitate the local economy. Consumer spending is the demand side of the “supply and demand”.
Many economists like John Maynard Keynes, believe consumer spending is the most important short-run determinant of economic performance and is a primary component of aggregate demand. It is the largest component of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the target of Keynesian fiscal and monetary policy though it won’t transform the economy in a significant way at the current juncture of time. But for sure it will help those who suffered the most. Those who have the capacity to spend should spend with the intent of helping the other person. It’s a service in its own way.
And for the third category of daily wage earners, the government must help them in their own native places by allocating additional funds. This will help them for atleast some time. Although they can’t be helped directly by the people, Only Institutional hand can be of help to them. The social and religious organizations have very important role to play.
As need of hour, let's be more generous this Eid, by doing charity and by spending more money. Charity to the poor is a highly emphasized value in Islam. The Quran says,
“Believe in Allah and his messenger, and give charity out of the (substance) that Allah has made you heirs of. For those of you who believe and give charity – for them is a great reward.”
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself," Narrated by Anas (R.A).
Shabeer Rather/Peerzada Umar