With a Coronavirus-induced strict lockdown in place, the valley of Kashmir is seemingly going through a digital transformation.
Although, the social and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are difficult to predict at this point in time, however, it is having a profound impact on social life and the economy.
Along with concerns about the health of the population, fears of a serious economic crisis are looming large in the air as well. Due to the stringent restrictions, the existence of some businesses is already endangered; others have been able to retool their approaches in developing a different culture of work.
Mohammad Shamim, from a suburb in southern Kashmir’s Pulwama employees at least 12 employees in his wood carving unit. Since the time lockdown was imposed, the factory is shut but the unit has been able to fulfil orders from its stockpile. “Most of our customers prefer to pay us through e-transfer after the growing cases of Coronavirus emerged in the Valley. They seldom go to banks now,” Shamim says.
Next to Shamim’s factory, Nazir Mir runs a grocer’s shop. He has been permitted by the district authorities to run the shop from morning till 4 PM. After most of his customers asked for his bank account details in order to pay him money online, he has hanged a little banner in his shop with the same details. He says, “It was much needed as most of my customers asked for my bank details to pay for the items they bought from here. Going to places like banks is least preferred these days.”
The story is same for various other sectors and institutions in the Valley who are increasingly taking use of the digital resources to keep their businesses and work afloat during the worst pandemic crises created by COVID-19.
From teachers and professors taking to video sharing platforms like YouTube, bureaucrats and government officials holding meetings via video conferencing to businesses taking advantage of online payment channels, grocery stores taking orders on WhatsApp and students looking for avenues to study online, more and more people in Kashmir are using internet to lead the Valley towards a digital revolution.
Although the complaints of low internet speed keep finding space in news headlines across various newspapers and online news portals, people have largely embraced the new way of working and studying from home. Online communication tools are playing an essential part to keep the collaboration running smoothly and unhindered.
The pandemic might end anytime soon, but most of the changes brought about by the virus-induced lockdown will stay forever. It is expected that there will be increased levels of meetings and conferences held online even after the coronavirus pandemic ends, businesses will keep exploring new channels of online transactions and even a revamp of online classes is in the offing as more companies will be looking to cater to the needs of educational institutions.
A clear trend can, however, be forecasted. On the one hand, the majority of businesses/firms face acute negative effects of the crisis. On the other hand, most people are convinced that the COVID-19 crisis will contribute to technological progress in the long term and that, all in all, the digital economy will emerge from the current situation even stronger than before – a prospect that gives cause for hope in the face all of the negative news we are hearing at this time.
**Dil-Paziir (Urdu; meaning ‘heart-pleasing’) is a special edition positive news series brought to you by Digpu, starting from Kashmir. Our local journalists have successfully shared many inspirational stories from the valley – from the invention of E-Charkha, automatic ventilator in Kashmir, stories of brotherhood through to the first-ever cricket tourney for Blind sportsmen, all the stories make us awe-struck.