Editorial: Promotion of handicrafts

Srinagar: The rate at which unemployment in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is growing needs a rethink by the policy planners so that the number of job opportunities increases and the youth find more jobs available around them.

Given the state of affairs the state government seems to have engulfed in, there is a remote possibility that the government, as has even been the practice, will be able to adjust or accommodate the number of unemployed youth.

Therefore, the thrust area to should be to look into those areas which can be tapped to generate more jobs and that too without putting additional load on the state exchequer. It is an acknowledged fact that the Handloom sector is the second largest employment generating sector in the State and presently over 4 lakh artisan families are associated with 20 different practicing crafts.

Besides, the artisans’ more than 20 lakh people are getting livelihood from the sector including traders, designers and dyers of the State. The sector has seen some decline over the past few years owing to the fact that the government has not been able to develop this sector on modern lines and requirements of the market.

A massive publicity drive and planned use of knowledge and resource for promotion of art and craft of the State can immensely help in meeting the challenges of the new market trends and can lead to a spur in creation of more and more jobs.

What is important to note is that the volume of exports of Handicraft goods from the State has reached to 1151.12 crore in 2016-17 as against 1059.41 crore in 2015-16 which bears proof of acceptability and goodwill of Kashmir art in markets spread across the world.

The government should therefore envisage more incentives and support to artisans and workers to ensure that Handicrafts retain the Kashmir identity and potential.

Besides, the government should also come up with unique centres which will be exclusively dealing with the promotion and development of handicrafts.

For this the Handicraft Department’s move of establishing Kashmir Haat-II at Pampore can be a good beginning. The Kashmir Hatt-II is coming up at Pampore with a cost of  44.61 crore, to be provided by Union Government from World Bank funding.

The promotion of handicrafts as a viable option for creating more job opportunities needs also be taken seriously. The Handicrafts Department should try to involve more youth by  undertaking a fresh survey of artisans and weavers for proper documentation and support. Besides, those crafts which have a worldwide market like papier-machie, crewel-chain stitch and willow vickers should be promoted through cluster approach.

 The Handicrafts Corporation should also contribute to quality control and marketing through skill centres at critical business centers in India.

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