Cottage Industry Struggles For Survival
Rising Kashmir News
Srinagar:The cottage industry in the Valley which employed hundreds of the artisans in the past is on the verge of extinction.
The industry watchers said the official apathy and the mass production in the factories have dealt a severe blow to the industry which produced unique hand-made products craftily designed by the local artisans. The art and the craft of the products in the cottage industry were mostly introduced here by Persian travelers. The experts said about lakhs of people were associated with cottage industries in the past. Now the number of the people earning livelihood from this art has reduced considerably. The demand for the products has also decreased.
Former President Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir Shakeel Qalander said they state’s cottage industry had a great significance representing Kashmir’s history and economy. “The industry provided livelihood to the lakhs of people in the valley. Unfortunately, this ages-old art and craft is diminishing,” said Qalander. He said the less wages given to the artisans has also led to the decline of the industry. “Artisans have opted out of this industry as they don’t get proper wages. Besides, local products are also lacking proper marketing facility. Government is taking little steps for its revival. The cheaper and less quality products from outside the state are sold under Kashmiri brands,” said Qalander. Qalander, however, said the Carpet Technology Centre and Craft Design Institute have provided hope for the survival of Kashmir art and craft. “The craft institutes will also help revive the cottage industry,” said Kalander.
Federation of Commerce and Industries Kashmir (FCIK), Vice President Javed Ahmad Bhat said that the cottage industry has the credit of producing fine quality hand-made products. “Our fascinating craft received a severe blow after the cheap and low quality goods where dumped in the markets in name of quality products. As a result of the lack of patronage, the artistic craftsmen had to wind up the business and work as ordinary laborers,” said Bhat.
Bhat said they have already presented a proposal before the government for the branding of locally produced items to distinguish quality products from the cheep ones. “And if government provides some incentives to the artisans only then this art can be revived,” he said. Abdul Rahim, 58, who had been weaving the carpets since his childhood before switching over to another job for better returns. “Our work demands great amount of hard work and skill. It would take me months to make one carpet and the returns that I would get were not enough to meet both the ends. I have a big family to support, so I had no option but to switch to other work,” said Rahim.
The officials at the Khadi and Village Industries also said illegal and low quality machine made products have dominated the market share hitting the cottage industries badly. He said the owners of the industries are exploiting the workers by providing them less wages which has disgorged artisans to continue with the trade.