Apart from its natural beauty Kashmir had a distinct identity in terms of its craft industry. The skilled hands that made artistic pieces brought laurels to this place.
And it was not just praise, it was hardcore economy. Apart from the business houses that made name in this trade, the average household in Kashmir was tied to the handicraft industry, directly of indirectly.
But with the advent of industry, and the culture of machine made goods, this handicraft industry in Kashmir stated witnessed a progressive decline. Less and less number of people remained associated with these skilled crafts.
The market for these items dwindled, and many small and medium enterprises in this trade had to close down. But it was not just technology and mass manufacturing that ruined the trade. What acted as a nail in the coffin was the loss of credibility.
When machine made goods were sold as hand-made items, the customers felt cheated. The result of this was that the customers declined to buy these items.
As a consequence of this, the market was taken over by machine made goods, and the age old trade of hand made goods, like Kashmiri carpets, witnessed a crisis.
But thanks to GI tag, the hope of revival has come alive. The launch of Geographical Indication (GI) for the famed hand-knotted Kashmiri Carpets by Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, is a step towards reviving the glory of Kashmiri Carpet Industry. It has bestowed a new lease of life to the carpet trade in Kashmir.
As per the reports the carpets from J&K have a vast global market. In 2020-21, carpets worth Rs 115 crore were exported to Germany while the figures were Rs 34 crore for US, Rs 36 crore for UAE and Rs 22 crore for the Netherlands.
It means that if the trust in the market is restored, and the concerned departments reach out to the global markets, this trade can once again touch the heights.
At a time when markets are undergoing turbulence, if we can revive the old industries, like hand-made carpets, we can bring smile to many families in Kashmir.