The Kashmir valley is well known for its arts and crafts and their importance in economic development of the State through employment generation and contribution to the export basket is substantial . Among all the handicrafts of Kashmir, Hand Knotted carpets constitute the biggest item of export and this industry is providing employment to a large chunk of the population living in rural and urban areas. More than half of the total value of exports from Jammu and Kashmir comes from carpet trade and employs more than one-third of workforce in handicrafts sector.
But due to varied reasons, which include low economic returns to the craftsmen, absence of forward linkages, lack of awareness regarding various developmental schemes, lack of proper training and entrepreneurial skills, non-availability of proper infrastructure and absence of handholding mechanism the handicrafts industry of the State has received a setback during the last two decades resulting in a decline in the number of artisans. The State is beset with multiple problems and the economy is, strictly speaking, neither agrarian in nature nor industrial. The modern manufacturing industries being highly capital intensive could not take off in the State and thus it is imperative to promote traditional industries of culturally inherited arts and crafts.
With a view to ensure full participation of the target group, these courses are being offered in the carpet craft concentrated areas of the concerned districts so that training is available at the doorstep. An amount of Rs. 1,000 per month is being paid as stipend to the trainees. On the spot Artisan Registration and Family Health Insurance cards shall be issued to the trainees.
The applications of trainees desirous of availing loan facility under Micro Credit Scheme and for issuance of Modern Carpet Loom along with sitting benches under Mega Carpet Cluster project shall be forwarded to the concerned government department for approval. After assessment by an Independent body, National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) shall award the successful candidates a nationally recognized certificate.
DCTED is a unique techno-academic programme for developing professionally qualified and trained human resource with sufficient knowledge of technicalities of the carpet craft. The intake capacity of the course is 20 and the candidates, in the age group of 18-40 years, with Matriculation as minimum qualification shall be eligible. One hundred candidates are proposed to be trained over a period of five years. The subsidized course fee is Rs. 10,000/- per candidate with free hostel accommodation within the premises of the Institute. The process of affiliation for the diploma course is expected during this year only. The outgoing candidates shall be provided requisite financial support as admissible under Seed Capital Fund Scheme (SKEWPY) so that they can start their own enterprise and create employment opportunities not only for themselves but for other trained people as well. These programmes and initiatives are expected to play a key role in reviving this traditional industry to full potential.
(The author is Director, Indian Institute of Carpet Technology (IICT), Srinagar)