“Pan’ni Hachi Chiy Bah Trachi”: Bank Upon Yourself

What you own yourself even if very small, means a lot for you
"It connotes that even if the produce of one’s labour is small or one has small possession of things, it is always much greater & better than that of the others’ big possessions & things."
"It connotes that even if the produce of one’s labour is small or one has small possession of things, it is always much greater & better than that of the others’ big possessions & things." Special arrangement

It is a well known Kashmiri proverb. Literally, it means one’s own harvest is equal to twelve Traks. Trak was a measurement of grain in the past. I fear it was equal to five Seers of weight & it is also equal to two Kanals of cultivating land in modern sense. 

The idiom signifies the significance of one’s own belongings whatever form & measure, instead of looking up to or banking upon someone else’s.

It connotes that even if the produce of one’s labour is small or one has small possession of things, it is always much greater & better than that of the others’ big possessions & things. It reflects one’s inner contentment with what one owns or has in possession even if small in quantity as compared to others’ possessions.

This does not mean possession of anything by one on minor scale is equivalent to possession of same kind by another on major scale.

Anyway, the idiom means that produce of one’s own labour is always sweet & better than others’ possessions & ownerships. What you own yourself even if very small in size & quantity it means a lot for you since it belongs to you alone.

The others’ possessions & chattel will not give you happiness. It is your own things that count for your happiness & peace of heart & mind.

The near to equal English idiom seems to be: count your blessings, it is small mercies/blessings that count for happiness of life & gratitude is sign of a noble soul since thanks costs nothing.

Be grateful for what you have! Another related English idiom is that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Emphasis should be always on self-reliance.

The contentment, Qanat in Kashmiri, with whatever little one has gets happiness in life. After all, small is beautiful is the key to self-confidence & self-reliance, self-respect and self-safety.

Greed is shoreless sea. It never fills. It never reaches the cliffs of satisfaction. Avarice leads to hell. There is an Arab saying that food supports life, contentment the soul. German saying is that no man can fill greed & eye.

Lawrence recorded in 1895, “Kashmir is practically a self-supporting country, inhabited by a people who are singularly free from extravagant tastes”.  Till recent past, just few decades ago, Kashmir & Kashmiris were simple, hard-working & self-reliant in the quotidian life as far as the basic necessaries were concerned.

In 1947, import-export ratio of traded goods was 1:3 which means exported product was three times more than what was imported from outside for domestic consumption. It was mainly salt, tea, tobacco & partly cotton & wool cloths that were imported from outside.

Kashmir was self-sufficient in food grains, rice, wheat, edible oil, vegetables, fish, mutton, beef, milk, ghee, butter, fowl, eggs, garlic, & hundreds of other eatable items of daily use in cold & hot weathers. Cottage & village industry was all local, of course, some raw material which was not locally available was imported from outside JK.

Kashmir has had a world reputation for its art, craft, & indigenous tradition & culture. It exports highly qualities of fruit like apple, pears, almonds, walnuts & so on. But, slowly & steadily, the valley’s self-sufficiency in food requirements over few decades has shown sharp decline. Today, import-export trade ratio is 7: 1 which is alarming. Kashmiris are no longer self-reliant people.

Kashmir has steadily turned “fully dependent” for food requirements on outside supplies.  Trade deficit is increasing with each passing year. A cursory look on Kashmir’s fruit & vegetable mandis evinces Kashmiris are totally dependent on vegetables, fruit, poultry, mutton, & even fish imported from other States.

Clusters of shopping-lines & malls dotting the city & towns & even villages sell the goods from A to Z but all imported from other States. Rarely locally produced food & other items are found in markets & mandis. Everything has vanished in thin air.

The genesis of importing heavily from other states for basic necessaries of life lies in the Bakhshi era when he inducted the disastrous policy of cheap & subsidized rations for the people & grant of route permits, contract-orders, jobs & housing plots for political objectives.

Though subsidy has gone with the passage of time, the policy has dealt a blow to local cultivation of food products. It was also responsible for massive corruption in government departments & the society in general.

It strengthened the element of easy-life-liking among the people.  According to media reports, Kashmir lost 22,000 hectares of agricultural land in last 16 years & at an average 1375 hectares of agricultural land is being lost annually to commercial & residential structures built at a rapid speed across Kashmir.

Haphazard & unplanned urbanisation is striking mortal blows to vast swathes of agricultural land with major problems of proper sewerage, drainage, service-roads, electric & water supplies facing the haphazard house owners.

Save some posh colonies in uptown of the city, most of the Srinagar city & towns of the valley lack enthusiastic & cheerful ambience. The rural-urban equation of 3:1 is fast changing as many well offs of rural Kashmir have been shifting to Srinagar city which has expanded from all sides almost reaching out to major towns & village after village having come under the uncontrolled urbanisation. 

Kashmir has been always identified with agro-industry which supports 80% of population.

The economy is primarily agriculture & horticulture based. Handicrafts also constituted larger portion of its economy. But over years, the governments both State & Centre have not exploited the full potential of Kashmir’s agro-based economy.

Nor its handicrafts received the patronage it deserved from the governments. Instead, the thrust has been given, more in the last few years, to tourism.

Tourism forms just 7% of Kashmir’s economy. It was never a backbone of its economy, though essential part of it. Tourism-thrust has made Kashmir totally dependent on outside.

The backbone of economy, agriculture, horticulture & handicrafts have received backseat in recent years. If real backbone of Kashmir’s economy is not revived with more focus on local manufacture, it will have disastrous effects for Kashmir’s economy & community as such in future. Tourism is always dependent-economy.

More & more people are associating themselves with tourism business. We witness unexpected surge in number of tourist cabs, hotels, huts & restaurants coming up all over the valley to provide services to the all-of-a-sudden boom in tourist rush to the valley in these one or two years.

Bottom line:

Before 1947, Kashmir, rather J&K, was not economically so prosperous, yet it was self-reliant. It locally produced food items of all kinds to sustain itself & to export good part of it to neighbouring States. Tourism was essential component of its economy but very small in comparison to handicrafts, agriculture, horticulture, & other indigenous industry.  Kashmiris would always take pride in the saying: “Pani Hachi Chiy Bah Trachi”.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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