Putting the cart before the horse?

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KO Analysis

While the Chief Minister is right in emphasizing about branding products from Kashmir , but it appears that the most important and significant aspect of Kashmir Handicrafts has been ignored. The production and making of Kashmiri handicrafts has, over time, essentially hollowed out. It has been effectively ‘outsourced’ to destinations like Punjab and even Nepal.  Products are sold under ‘Brand Kashmir’ but are mass produced elsewhere. This development has both ethical connotations and commercial dimensions.  Ethically, it is plain wrong to take recourse to this strategy for obvious reasons. Commercially, the hollowing out of production of Kashmiri handicrafts has implications beyond the present. Short term profit making and recourse to mass manufacture of Kashmiri handicrafts will decimate our production which will have ramifications on a whole host of factors: shrinking local production will eliminate a whole class of artisans and distort the entire value chain of making and selling handicrafts from Kashmir. This distortion will have a significant negative impact on Kashmiri products in terms of reputation and the ultimate losers will be Kashmiris.

The Chief Minister’s  emphasis on branding while important in its own right nonetheless does not tackle the major and main issue bedeviling the Kashmiri handicrafts industry. A holistic approach that incorporates the entire value chain and takes care of the interests of all stakeholders is the need of the hour. The handicrafts industry is a sinking ship; it needs both a salvage job and a thorough revamp. There still may be time to revive it. Delay, however, will ensure its doom.

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