The handicraft sector is the third largest employment provider in valley with a potential of engaging five lakh artisans. However, with the rise in competition and over-saturated global market it has become difficult for domestic cottage industry to survive at international level. Shazia Khan reports.
Experts say that the traditional handicraft sector in valley presently lacks the sectoral capacity and capability in the form of handicraft entrepreneurs hence unable to face the challenges in global market. Currently, this sector needs succour through education, training, infrastructure building and other policy measures.
To bridge the disparity between the artisans and market demands Craft Development Institute (CDI), an autonomous institute established by the DC – handicrafts, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India and Department of Industries and Commerce J&K, has introduced a two year programme ‘ Craft Management and Entrepreneurial Leadership’. The basic aim of the programme is to revitalize the traditional craft concept and bring it out at international level with the potential of boundless utilization.
“The programme endeavours to create professionals who would effectively understand the emerging requirements of craft consumers in an international context and translate them into traditionally trained artisans that may then produce a new competitive product for the related market place”, says M S Farooqi, Director CDI.
To handle different aspects of managing craft production, skilled resource, design development, marketing strategies and sales, the programme is designed within the context of Design Management and Technology.
The fundamental belief of the programme is to train and motivate human resources and hence considerably influence the overall character and quality of development in handicraft industry, informs Nazia, a lecturer at CDI.
Presently there are two batches of students pursuing the programme of CMEL. Talk to them and they confidently admit that programme is properly cruising their way to visionary leaders and helping them understand the language of craft and market requirements. On its part Institute is providing them platform for inspiring interactions and exchange of ideas that have a direct bearing on the personal development of students.
“I am quite interested in handicraft sector and want to establish my own business. After opting for this course, I am able to understand the craft techniques and market strategies that provide an insight of market- exports and handicraft business”, says Manzoor Ahmad Shah, a final year student.
The words of contentment are echoed by other student Shabir Ahmad, to whom Craft Management and Entrepreneurship programme is exceptional in its own kind. “There are many craft development institutes throughout India but CDI Srinagar is the only institute that provides a course which is a combination of management, technology and designing. All others deal either with management or technology and designing”, says he.
Syed Sualiha, a science graduate, shifted her stream from science to management. She sees it is a new opportunity to understand the domestic craft and put it in international market. “Craft management and Entrepreneurial leadership programme is a job oriented course in terms of entrepreneurs and craft managers. It stresses more on practical part and facilitates opportunities to interact with professionals. Institute also conducts internship programmes at different craft institutes outside Kashmir”, mouths she.
Many students claim that after joining the course their idea of craft sector, especially of entrepreneurial value and economic potential has dramatically changed. “I was not interested in handicraft sector and had negligible knowledge about it. However, after joining the course I think Kashmiri handicraft sector can flourish like any thing. The only thing it requires is responsible administrators, who can strike the balance between the market and craft designers,” says Kaisar Ahmad Mir. Kaisar pointed out another factor in the declining market value of Kashmiri handicrafts. “Today the international market is demanding the credentials of Kashmiri handicraft product, this is because in past and present traders belonging to any place were able to sell anything on the name of Kashmir which has badly affected credibility of Kashmiri products. If there would be skilled professionalisms, those things won’t happen” adds he.
Many experts believe that the programme is extremely promising and involving professionals from CDI can benefit the craft industry in broader sense. Their steady efforts can pave way for exponential growth of handicrafts at regional, national and international level.