Recession has started taking its toll and the artisans in Kashmir’s handicraft sector are becoming instant targets of falling sales abroad. A Rs 880 crores sector, still lacking an industry status, has an artisan force of 1,50,000.
The work they have been doing for some time now is transforming into piles of stock instead of getting its place in malls and business outlets abroad. Handicrafts being a luxurious commodity, which unfortunately is proving its immediate spoiler, its customers are the rich from India, Europe, Middle East and America.
The recession consequently hit it as the very first casualty of recession is the luxury item.
The government on its part is doing almost nothing to alleviate the artisans’ misery currently trapped in the labyrinth. Sales are down by 90 per cent and the piling stocks have blocked their capital. They are unwilling to place new orders as demand has vanished. The liquidity has dried up in the market, so has the hopes of artisans who are now looking for alternative options. If the recession continues and government and banks along with other financial institutions fail to come to the rescue of handicraft industry, soon it will become a thing of past and rob Kashmir of one of its identities once for all.
Curative measures: To revive the enthusiasm of people eking out their livelihood from handicraft industry, government should stress banks and financial institutions to give soft loans on low interest rates to them so that the glut is removed and procurement does not stop. It will make them pass on the recession phase without drastic effects. Also, if industry status is accorded to handicraft business, subsidy will come to the people associated with it which will lend them succour in this worst phase. By hypothecating the stock, the wholesale dealers will surely go for purchasing the commodity which will make artisans carry on with their job even when there is no demand. People of loom-sector comprising of weavers, tapsters, knitters, dyers, washers, graders and others are currently looking beyond this industry and sustenance allowance to them will enable them to stick to it.
The industry itself has to produce the product at cheaper costs so that it becomes affordable to the ordinary customer thereby lending it a longer life. Government can approach high end offices and posh colonies and supply them with furnishing part from the stock it procures from the wholesalers or artisans.
The writer is leading exporter from the state