Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Baseer Ahmad Khan, chaired a meeting of Handicrafts and Handloom department to get first hand feedback about its functioning and to explore ways and means for revival of Kashmir’s art and craft.
The meeting was attended by Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Director Industries Kashmir, Director Handicrafts and Handloom Kashmir, Managing Director J&K Handicraft and Handloom, Director Finance Industries and Commerce, Director Planning Industries and Commerce and Managing Director SICOP.
While chairing the meeting, the Advisor directed the officers to strengthen the base level of the department and take measures for uplifting the economic conditions of artisans. He said that endeavour of the department should be to initiate adequate steps for helping artisans in increasing their production and showcasing their products.
Advisor directed the officers to explore possibilities for creating opportunities for the artisans for showcasing their products. He further asked them to identify the areas where convergence with the other departments or programmes for providing an immediate platform to artisans could be done. He asked for working out strategies to give a fillip to economic activities of the artisans and look for avenues which liberates them from economic distress. He said that urgent steps are needed to liberate the artisans from the clutches of the middlemen so that they get remunerative prices for their products.
He said that it is incumbent upon the government to resurrect the number of dwindling artisans in order to preserve traditional art and crafts. He said that this can be done by hand holding of artisans by providing incentives to the artisans, increasing market coverage and providing platform to showcase their products.
The Advisor stressed upon the need for proper implementation of the Acts to safeguard the interests of the artisan community, by regularly monitoring the activities of the Handicrafts dealers to ensure sale of only genuine handicraft items to the Tourists/Customers.
He also emphasized upon the need for enforcement of GI tagging on Pashmina and other exclusive handmade products of Kashmir.
Stressing on maintaining the quality of the products, he directed that efforts should be made to educate the general public about the menace of fake or machine made items being sold by some unscrupulous dealers, in the name of Kashmir Arts & Crafts.
He directed the officers to initiate concrete steps and seek specific comments and suggestions from the officers that would set the baseline for artisan uplift and bring vibrancy in the department.
Advisor further asked the department to compile the number of registered artisans so that the department comes to know about the number of artisans associated with a particular craft. He said that we need to pump in our resources accordingly so as to get better dividends.
Describing handicrafts as the economic strength, the Advisor stressed on proper utilization of Kashmir Haat for the promotion of handicrafts and to provide opportunities to artisans to sell their handicraft items directly and directed the Handicrafts Department to organize regular activities in the Haat. He also called for a strategy to draw tourists visiting Kashmir to Kashmir Haat by creating new attractions and facilities there, besides directing the officers to increase the frequency of fairs.
The Advisor also said that handicraft outlets should be opened at those places which witness a huge footfall of tourists like Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg and also at prominent places along the National Highway. He directed the officers to have a comprehensive assessment done on the economically viability of all the showrooms.
The Advisor directed the officers to explore the possibility of having a handicraft Kiosk on each of the ghats along the river Jehlum and dovetail with the tourism department to have a circuit of water cruise done for the tourists. This will have dual benefit of exploring the new vistas of water tourism and having the handicrafts showcased at each ghat for the tourists.
A detailed presentation was also given out by Director Handicrafts and Handloom and also by the Managing Director J&K Handicrafts (S&E) Corporation and J&K Handloom Development Corporation listing the health and function of the respective departments. Director Handicrafts and Handloom said that seven crafts have been geo-tagged while other 10 products are in the pipeline for geo tagging. He also said that efforts are underway for the revival of dying crafts like filigree and glazed tiles. He said that the department has tied with e-commerce sites to increase the market of artisans and tied up with NIFT that would come up with packaging designs for the products.