Mentioning the significance of handicrafts in the state's economy, chief minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday said natural beauty and artisans' magical skills have mesmerised the world for ages.
"However, the damage caused to the state's natural wealth, water bodies and environment, as also the downward dip in the manufacturing of world-class quality handicrafts have badly impacted both these sectors recently," he said, adding that much focus was required to restore the glory of this heritage of Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing a gathering at the Dastkaar Mela organised by J&K Bank in collaboration with the handicrafts department at Badamwari near here, the CM claimed that from the first day, his government had been paying focused attention on reviving the world-famous handicrafts by addressing the difficulties of artisans and helping their organisation, sustained growth and development.
"My government took various new initiatives to encourage the youths to find careers in the high-potential handicrafts sector," he claimed, adding that his government had obtained geographical indicators (patent) for six handicrafts, including pashmina, kani shawl, papier-mâché, walnut-wood carving, crewel and chain stitch embroidery and khatamband.
He said this had given a new dimension to the production of these handicrafts in the state, and increased their marketability across the world. "The originality of these handicrafts has been recognised, giving a fillip to the status of artisans across the world," he said.
The CM added that his government's initiative to provide 'artisan credit cards' to the artisans of the state on the same lines as kissan credit cards (credit cards for farmers), would protect artisans from getting exploited by middlemen and money-lenders. "Now, artisans can use credit facility to
arrange funds for manufacturing their products rather than getting involved with middlemen and agents," he said, adding that the J&K Bank had provided a special window for this purpose.
"We have also provided 8,000 modern carpet looms to carpet weavers free of cost, and are in the process of distributing many more," he claimed.
Referring to the help provided by the Craft Development Institute and Carpet Technology Institute to artisans for the growth and development of handicrafts, he underlined the importance of preserving the heritage and age-old handicrafts designs. "New designs with the influence of the traditional should be introduced, and daily-use products manufactured to attract consumers. Artisans can manufacture computer covers, telephone covers and other such marketable items, while giving them a traditional touch," he added.
Adding that as per a survey report, more than 3.75 lakh families were directly and indirectly involved in the handicrafts sector, he said "This is a big chunk of population and requires equal attention in the development policy of the state. We have underlined this aspect and measures have been taken to ameliorate the lot of the people associated with handicrafts."
The Jammu and Kashmir Bank, as a part of its 'platinum jubilee initiative', has organised the three-day Dastkaar Mela.