Promoting handloom and handicrafts sector

It is the assured marketing facilities that drive sales and any product made or an item of use manufactured, especially the hand woven ones, must be marketed in time because the bottom line of any business is to make money. Marketing is an established channel to reach that goal. Handicrafts and Handloom products of Jammu and Kashmir, especially that of Kashmir, are quite famous for their exquisite design and intricate workmanship and needle working.That sector forms a major part of rural economy and towards promotion of this sector, the Government recently decided to arrange an online platform for showcasing and facilitating the local artisans, craftsmen, weavers and other workers associated with the making and producing of handloom and handicrafts items. In this connection, the services of country’s prominent online retailer Flipkart have been solicited and put in operation by signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the UT Government with them. This step taken is in right direction and must be widelycommended.
This facility was going not only to boost the sales of genuine products of handicrafts and handloom background but popularise them further both in the domestic as well as in international markets. Agreed, most of the items of handicrafts from Kashmir region have, over decades established and earned a niche for them but due to certain unavoidable reasons, sales have remained erratic and demand for them inconsistent partly due to an outdated channel and mode which often remains susceptible to vagaries of different hues. With this facility, these products of design and texture delicacy, otherwise highly labour intensive , shall find new destinations only to benefit the artisans and hence the rural and even urban economy. There are traditional and non traditional items in handlooms and handicrafts including fascinating papiermache products , walnut carvings, shawls, embroidery items, Namdas- gabbas, Rugs, Chain stitch wall hangings , willow works and other items and the MoU has provisions to take care of hitherto uncovered products too and cause their sales to be of effective proportions.
Since middlemen irrespective of any sector, play spoilsport in that by claiming their ”extra” pound of flesh results in exploitation of and less sale proceeds to the artisans. The initiative of the Government, thus, has a promise to eliminate the undesirable role of middlemen as proceeds of their sales shall go direct to them. Needless to add, on the other hand, the Government has arranged enhancement of loan limits to these artisans under Artisans Credit Card Scheme to the tune of Rs.2 lakh.
COVID-19 pandemic, bringing in its wake all the pressures and constraints, has affected this sector too tremendously as absence of physical buying has adversely impacted the trade which can be adequately taken care of by e- commerce giant Flipkart through its special web-portal ”Samrath”. It is expected that the artisans and crafts-persons having dexterity in the respective field shall get a good exposure which means efficient and assured marketing prospects. The said web-portal was going to be a game changer for on-boarding, sale and cataloguing of products falling under the above mentioned categories. If we go by the relevant data on the prospects and future trend of this industry, it shall painfully be seen that the trend is to bidding adieu to this trade because of a bleak future going by the reverses this trade suffered for the last several years. The tradition of themasters in the trade training the next generation, as such, due to this factor is getting weakened. Once this experiment proves successful and generates hopes of a secured future of this trade, reluctant workers shall find more interest in it and this traditional industry shall sustain itself for better days with promises of more sales, profits and enhanced incomes.