ENHANCING ATRISANS’ PROFILE

While the National Handloom Day is being celebrated on 7th August across the nation it is most opportune time to initiate efforts in order to revolutionize the handloom production in India’s crown state J&K. On this day there is a need to recall the words of the late CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who while reiterating the Govt’s commitment towards welfare of artisans linked to handicrafts in the state had stated that top international firms will come forward for buying handicraft products of this state only if we make concerted efforts to maintain the quality, enhance the volume of production and give the artisans, who possess the rare art of making some of the finest hand-made products in the world, a level-playing field. While the incumbent CM too is committed to the artisans’ welfare it is for the artisans to come forward with full vigour and enthusiasm with their unique crafted products including the handloom products. It is an acknowledged fact that the handicraft artisans contribute a lot towards socio-economic contribution of the society and in view of this it is of utmost significance to first make all the efforts in the direction of enhancing the socio-economic profile of the artisans be it weavers, craftsmen or others. While the handicraft or handloom thrives in the valley with a variety of products that are in high demand across the globe at the same time the government needs to specially focus on Jammu and Ladakh regions too where local handicraft and handloom though far less as compared to valley and existing in selected pockets has remained ignored for the past decades. There is no doubt that Kashmir is well known for its varied handloom or handicraft products including Carpets, shawls etc. but the products be it shatoosh from Ladakh or Handlooms from the hilly winter zone areas of Jammu province also deserve to be promoted at the national and international level so that the poor artisans of Jammu and Ladakh division also get economic boost. Besides addressing the economic concern of this lot, the people of the two regions Ladakh and Jammu would feel that efforts are being made in the real sense to address the issue of decades’ old alienation and discrimination against the two regions mostly considered to be non entities in the state of affairs in this state. Handloom weaving is one of the richest and vibrant aspects of J&K’s cultural heritage. The artistry and intricacy achieved in the handloom fabrics woven in the State is not only unique but has been acclaimed internationally with the weavers of the State having mastered the art of translating masterpieces into fabrics. Pashmina and Kani shawls from the valley besides Tweed, Blankets, Lois and other fabrics from Jammu and some unique handloom fabrics of Ladakh deserve to be promoted simultaneously on all fora at the national as well as International level. It is an acknowledged fact that the artisans need to take the first step in this direction by coming forward themselves especially those from the Jammu and Ladakh divisions. However the state government can’t be absolved of its liability to encourage the so far uncared artisans to upgrade the quality and quantity of their handloom products in conformity with the International standards. It was on 7th August, in 1905 that Swadeshi Movement was launched in the country to boycott the use of fabric made in British Mills in Manchester and indigenous home spun fabric became the symbol of Nationalism thus leading to revival of the handloom sector in the country. If today we fail to save the cottage handloom industries in the state from extinction it would really be an irony. Therefore the people of the state especially those from Jammu and Ladakh hope that the state government in coordination with the Central Ministry identifies the specific cottage industries in the handloom sector across the state especially those which are at the brink of extinction in the Ladakh and Jammu regions and initiate measures to revive them. These cottage industries could also lure the youth for running their own enterprises thus addressing the unemployment problem too. Let the handloom weavers come forward to join this endeavour on the day that has been dedicated to their cause. After all it is these handloom weavers who have to metamorphosize their traditional skill and art as per the requirements of contemporary times, for which the government shall provide the requisite support.