With 4G, Kashmir hopes to call back growth

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 16, 2021 Published on February 16, 2021

Start-ups make renewed efforts to make a comeback after 18 months of Internet blackout

Malik Aadil, the founder of Kashmir’s first grocery delivery platform Groxery, is making renewed efforts to grow his fledgling start-up after the Centre restored 4G network across the State.

His online platform, which had come to a grinding halt after the internet was blocked in the State for 18 months, will now come with new features, including a subscription model that entails the ‘Buy and Pay Later’ option in-app notifications. Aadil is also expanding his footprint across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It has been a tough task for us to manage things on 2G. We kept the size of our app small so that it can be downloaded even on the 2G internet. Now, with 4G being available, we are going to add new features and expand our presence across the State,” Aadil told BusinessLine.

Zeyan Shafiq, founder of Stalwart e-sports, a digital gaming platform based in Kashmir, is also gearing up to restart his venture. “Due to the internet blackout, we had to shift our operations to Delhi. Now, we are planning to come back to Kashmir and expand our business there as we intend to raise awareness in the State regarding e-sports,” said Shafiq.

“I believe the Valley is swelling with talented gamers who do not have the resources to exhibit and polish their talents. I hope with unrestricted internet we would be able to tap the right potential,” he added.

The cost of blackout

Like Aadil and Shafiq, many small businesses who were dependent on high-speed internet, are scrambling to make up for the financial loss incurred during the blackout period. According to estimates by Top10VPN, a publication focussed on internet privacy, the internet blackout has cost Kashmir $4.2 billion.

The biggest impact was on tourism and here, too, the State machinery is embarking on a new campaign to bring back tourists. “We are trying to run an aggressive social media campaign to promote Kashmir tourism. With 4G connection, we can also offer remote working from the Valley to attract the crowd working from home,” said a senior State government official.

He stated that the tourism department will target domestic travellers because of the international travel restrictions triggered by the pandemic.

Tariq Rashid Ghani, Secretary-General JK Hoteliers Club, said that with the availability of high-speed internet, the State’s tourism department should connect with foreign tourists as well for the upcoming summer by when travel restrictions are expected to be eased up.

Education is another area where things are limping back. GN Var, Chairman of Private Schools’ Association and Coaching Centers, said while students across India resorted to digital classes during the pandemic, students in Kashmir did not have the luxury to continue with their studies through online platforms. Now, some schools are starting to roll out their digital courses.

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Published on February 16, 2021
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