THE COLOURS OF ART: Handicrafts Sector of Jammu and Kashmir

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Srinagar: The official website of the Directorate of Handicrafts, Jammu and Kashmir (www.jkhandicrafts.com) states, the handicrafts of Jammu and Kashmir have acquired worldwide fame for their exquisite refinement and aesthetic elegance which have great diversity and demand.

Truly speaking, the Handicrafts of Jammu and Kashmir are beyond imagination and thus have provided a ray of hope for the global entrepreneurship of artisans. Be it the craft of Carpet weaving, Embroidery works, Wood Carving , Namda, Painting or Papier Machie, global applaud is unanimous.

The importance of Handicrafts sector is quite clear once we look at the data regarding the growth of the state exchequer, which touches on an average Rs 657.58 crore per year by exporting handicraft products. Prior to this, the overall turnout by exporting handicraft products was Rs 131.45 crore per year.

The data clarifies the fact that handicrafts are giving a good competition, on economic grounds, to other export goods of the state. The importance of this sector can also be proven by the fact that the Directorate of Handicrafts is creating more and more work power through it training modules. These training centers are present almost in each block of the state and thus have opened a window of hope for universal entrepreneurship.

The Directorate’s sister institutes like Indian Institute of Carpet Technology, School of Designs and Craft Development Institute are also playing a vital role in handicrafts sector in order to boost the morale of unorganized artisan workforce. Their work ranges from basic issues to business formulation policies so that Artisans can get direct customer benefit.

The State Government along with Development Commissioner Handicrafts, Central Government of India and other Private organizations such as KCCI, EPOCH, FCCI, Apex, NGOs, etc. through various policies are providing ample support for the upliftment of the local artisans.

The handicrafts sector has spread its colors among the educated youth as well. Earlier, this sector was confined to illiterate people from interior areas of main city of Srinagar or main towns of erstwhile districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Although it a positive sign that educated youth are taking an interest in this sector but at the same time, it is sad that the descendants of the artisans, in most of the cases, do not follow the profession of their forefathers. According to them, the misery they saw their forefathers face while working is the main reason they opt for a different line of profession. Their perception needs to be changed so that they can continue the beautiful work their forefathers started.

At the moment, the reason that more people need to get engaged with handicrafts is the fact that the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been mentioned in the list of Handicrafts Mega Cluster Mission (HMCM) set up by the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. This has increased the total number of epicenters of this mission to four.  Initially the list included only 3 states- Bareilly, Lucknow and Bhuj. The mission of mega clusters to date has initiated three activities in Jammu and Kashmir which are available on its web link http://handicraftmegacluster.in/jammu-and-kashmir.

Moreover, the ongoing web based marketing portfolio (online shopping) has now paved the way for the artisans to reach the customers anywhere and sell their products without any intervening parties. One such example has been set up by the Postal Department which signed an MoU with online shopping giant Snapdeal.

MOU says two sides will initiate a pilot scheme wherein the weavers/artisans of Varanasi silk products will be able to showcase their products through Snapdeal portal with the help of Department of Posts and they would be helped in the end to end transaction of their products i.e. from registration to receipt of the money from the customer.

In Kashmir, this has been initiated with the Kashmir based online shopping portal Kashmir Box. However, more work is needed regarding the exclusion of mixed work like that of machine works etc.

 

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