In a bid to boost GI tagging of local handmade crafts, the Department of Handicraft & Handloom, Kashmir has erected hoardings and other modes of advertisement at all major airports of the country to spread awareness far and wide. An official said the result of the awareness is evident and can be ascertained by the fact that 6500 Pashmina Shawls have GI labelled alone in the year 2021-22, against the labelling of 4500 Pashmina Shawls since the inception in the year 2013-14. “This way the GI tagging craft marks an exponential increase of 1156 percent over an average annual rate”, the official asserted. As per the official, the Directorate has introduced the QR based labelling for hand-knot carpets and the same mechanism has been extended to the labelling of Pashmina Shawls thereby enabling the system to be in tune with the dynamic technological ecosystem. “Just in the initial three months of labelling hand-knot carpets, the department has received 1000 samples for GI labelling of which 710 have been successfully labelled and the rest are under process”, the official said and added, “This signals a good response from the local community”. The Directorate has envisaged inducting the tagging method to ascertain the goods are genuinely handmade. A step in this direction is the introduction of hologram based labelling for crafts like copper etc, while for others like chain-stitch, the QR based labelling would also be introduced in due course of time. “This would in the long run safeguard the interests of the potential buyers and would be pivotal in curbing the counterfeit handicraft items”, the official maintained. He said the Department of Handicrafts & Handloom is in a meticulous process of giving a renewed thrust to the use of the GI tag for the promotion of unique handicraft products with high commercial potential in the global markets. “With this intent, a series of tireless campaigns have been conducted over the past year to enhance the export opportunities in the sector. Having seven crafts already registered under GI, a new life has been infused in the process of registering products under GI during the last year”, he also said. Pertinently products like namda, shikara and waguv are also in process of bringing under the ambit of the GI tag. The dossier in respect of these three crafts stands submitted to the Geographical Indications Registry. As home to extreme diversity, the Kashmir handicrafts have overshadowed all other handicrafts throughout the country. These handmade crafts depict the local culture, their exclusive proprietary processes, unique key ingredients and the enduring tradition that has been followed for centuries. The official said during the last year people have come across advertisements proclaiming unique Geographical Indication (GI) tags of Kashmiri handicrafts. “It is a unique way to encourage the local community and bring them their due respect. At present, there are seven crafts from Kashmir which have been granted their respective GI tags. These tags have evolved to protect indigenous knowledge in the handicrafts sector to help localize economic control, promote rural socio-economic development and assure higher economic returns”, the official said.