JK Handicrafts, Problems and Hope.

Author: Shad Moien Ahamd

Handicrafts play a pivotal role in representing the culture and traditions of any country or region. They also explicate riddles and the questions about the history of a region in a very uncomplicated manner. Handicrafts substantially help to preserve the rich traditional art, heritage and culture, skills as well as talents associated with history and lifestyle of the people. Handicrafts are immensely important in terms of economic development. They provide with a galore of opportunities for employment and that too with low capital investment and have immense potential to become an emphatic source for foreign earnings.

The handicrafts of Jammu and Kashmir are famous around the globe for their elegant designs, aesthetics looks and intricate refinement. Handicraft sector is the major source of employment generation of the state.

According to the Directorate of Handicrafts, Government of Jammu and Kashmir website, the handicraft sector is currently both directly and indirectly providing jobs to nearly about 3.50 lakh persons out of which 2.50 lakh artisans are directly dependent on handicraft for their lively hood. As per the department, presently the handicrafts earn around 1700 crores as foreign exchange every year. The most important crafts of handicraft industry of Kashmir that hold a significant share in overall production and export are embroidery, Shawls, Crewels, Namda, Chain stitch, Papier Machie, Costume, Jewelry, Kanishwals, and Carpets.

– Crewal Artist.

The numbers provided by the department may seem to be promising but the ground reality is that most of the artists, craftsmen and weavers belong to socio-economically backward class and are below poverty line. There are no of problems that artist face and if mitigated with proper attention can empower the grassroots and in turn, help to engage and boost up the economy.

  • Infrastructure problem is the main problem faced by the handicrafts sector of J&K. It is the main barrier which hinders the development of this sector. So, in order to mitigate this problem adequate infrastructure is the need of an hour
  • Lack of Financial literacy is the other crucial problem being faced by the entrepreneurs of J&K handicrafts sector. Financial literacy means the ability and knowledge to understand personal finance and it encompasses an understanding of how to use savings, credit, investments, borrowings and expenditure. So, the best strategy to cope up this problem is to promote and enhance the financial literacy among the local masses.
  • The problem linked with handicrafts sector is the use of obsolete tools and equipment. So, the government should intervene and address this problem and should make the availability of innovative technology.
  • Lack of exposure to attract foreign investors. So, the government should develop investment strategies to attract foreign players, especially in this sector.
  • The packaging is the main determinant to attract the customers. The buyers buying behaviors is largely affected by the packaging of the product. Thus, in order to increase the growth of handicrafts sector, the attractive packaging strategy should be adopted.
  • Low remuneration is the annoying factor responsible for the low performance of handicrafts sector. So, the best strategy to be adopted is to provide better remuneration to the work as well as provide incentives to motivate the workers and uniformity should be maintained for the same amount of work.
  • The entrepreneurs of the handicrafts sector must adopt the strategy to make active participation in the fairs and exhibitions at national as well as international level.
  • The political situation in Kashmir too is the crucial problem being encountered by the business sector of J&K, so political stability should be maintained on an immediate basis, artist find it very difficult to sell their art because of the prevailing civil, political strife.
  • IMG_2637[1]
    -A group of Kashmiri women while spinning the yarn.

    The handicraft sector of Jammu and Kashmir is rich, unique and eternal in its beauty. In spite of the influence of modernity and industrialization, the handicraft products of the state continue to receive worldwide acclaims. In the absence of large-scale industries in the state, handicrafts have remained a key source of economic activity in the state. The handicraft activities have the capability to generate employment opportunities at a large scale if the markets are expanded and demand is increased by bringing in different marketing methodologies. Analysing overall scenario and performance of handicraft product even during the years of political unrest, it indeed gives a ray of hope to focus on it so that growth and development in the sector, especially in terms of exports, is maintained.

    Reference and Source *Directorate of Handicrafts, Government of Jammu and Kashmir website. *Shah MR (2016) An Assessment of Handicraft Sector of J&K with Reference to Central Kashmir. Arabian J Bus Manag Review 6:258. *Image source, www.hamiast.com