JK handicraft sector lacks marketing strategies
Arshad Mir, a young entrepreneur from Jammu and Kashmir is the vice-chairman of the Export Council of India. In an interview with
Anil Anand, Delhi Bureau Chief of Greater Kashmir, Mir gives an
insight into his activities for promotion of Kashmir handicrafts.
Q. From a manufacturer-exporter to taking up a broader role for promotion of Kashmiri handicrafts. What has propelled you to take up this cause?
A. I have been in the trade for past nearly 15 years during which I discovered many shortcomings and difficulties being faced by the Kashmiri handicrafts manufacturers and artisans in particular. That is why I decided to do my bit to get the sector its due at the national and international levels.
Q. You are vice-chairman of the Export Council of India which is entrusted to work for increasing India’s share in the international export market. How is it helping the J&K handicrafts?
A. This position has provided me ample opportunities to work in close proximity with the Textile Ministry and other concerned governmental agencies. The EPCI is organising handicrafts fairs twice a year to invite foreign buyers. We have been providing free space and other necessary facilities to the J&K manufacturers to exhibit their products to get foreign orders. It is working very well.
Q. Any fresh initiatives where you are directly involved to uplift the handicraft sector?
A. Recently I have been appointed member of the Sector Skill Council for Handicrafts and Handloom set up by the Government of India. The prime duty of the Council is to ensure shift of the artisans, etc. from unorganised to organised sector. We will prepare a curriculum and conduct an examination of the artisans and those who qualify will be given certificates which will act as a qualification to get good jobs in the sector. FICCI is also involved in this project.
In another related development, the Council and EPCI propose to approach the Human Resource Development Ministry to introduce skill development as a subject in school curriculum.
Q. How do you rate the present Kashmir handicraft sector?
A. Lot of promotional efforts are being made by the Centre and the state governments. But the situation in the last decade has not been as encouraging as it should have been. We absolutely lack in product development and marketing strategies. The fact that J&K gets less grant and financial assistance for this sector than other states is also an impediment.
Q. What should be done to encourage the sector?
A. Firstly, our traders and particularly the artisans are not fully aware about many promotional and welfare schemes launched by the government. We need to create awareness among them so that they are encouraged to come forward and work. The fact of the matter is that at present the benefits of many such schemes are not percolating down.
Q. Any new plans to help Kashmiri artisans?
A. We wish to create small help groups in the form of societies consisting of artisans. The ultimate aim will be to bring these societies in direct contact with the foreign buyers and show them the route to the export market. Such societies already exist in many states like Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Why not in J&K?
Q. According to you what ails handicrafts sector in J&K?
A. We are still averse to adopting modern techniques and developing alternatives to say the walnut wood which is a banned product in the state so that the wood-work industry does not vanish. We will have to rediscover ourselves. The state government should facilitate to set up screen printing infrastructure as huge printing work is being getting done by the manufacturers from other parts of the country. Nearly 1,50,000 pieces are being printed every year in Kashmir. Printing and design development are bring avenues for job creation.
Q. Is there ample market for the Kashmiri handicrafts products?
A. The market is huge. It will keep expanding. India accounts for only 3 per cent of the world export market in which Kashmir exists nowhere whereas China’s share is 30 per cent.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 29 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 29 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 30 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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