The Jammu and Kashmir government held their first registration camp for artisans, weavers, and hawkers in a bid to boost trade.
The aim is to strengthen the artisans, hawkers, and weavers community in a bid to restore the losses they suffered after the severe lockdowns from the abrogation of article 370 and COVID-19 and also the overcome the neglect of the artisans, hawkers, and weavers community for the past 30 years as they say.
J-K Government’s Bid to Boost the Artisans, Weavers, and Hawkers
Artisans, weavers, and hawkers are basic pillars of Kashmiri art and craft. They are intricately woven into the identity of Kashmiri culture and traditions. It is said that for the last 30 years, this community was not receiving the privileges they deserved to keep their unique trade and art alive. This is also one of the reasons why the community has been facing problems.
The government in an attempt to restore the glory of Kashmiri art and uplift the community, the government established the registration-cum-awareness camp organized by the Handicrafts and Handloom Department at Kashmir Haat Srinagar. Several artisans and heads of associations, belonging to Kashmir art, attended the camp.
With the use of registration cards, the community will be immensely benefited. Earlier, due to some dishonest people, real hawkers and artisans lost their credibility and were not receiving a good response outside Jammu and Kashmir. With the help of a proper card of registration, issued by the department, the community will get a good response and will be able to sell their products without any problems. It would also help them to earn their livelihood properly.
During the camp, a number of artisans, hawkers, and weavers got their registration cards from Baseer Ahmad Khan, the Advisor to Lieutenant Governor of J-K Manoj Sinha, and the Director of Handicrafts and Handloom.
Mehmood Ahmad Shah, the Director of Handicrafts and Handloom said that the registration would benefit the community.
Shah said, “The artists are our identity, and it is a must that we take care of them. We also wanted to the ensure quality of goods that the consumer buys. This certification will allow us to do so.”
“The hawkers play a great role in promoting the Kashmiri art but have been overlooked for years. With this, they will also get their due recognition,” he also said.
Kashmir Suffered Severe Economic Loss:
Last year in July, J&K was among the top four states with a high jobless rate, at 16.3 percent. There is no sector of Kashmir’s economy — be it tourism, horticulture, transport, or trade — that hasn’t undergone losses in the past two years. “Economy was already on its deathbed,” said Sheikh Ashiq, President of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). “Somehow we were trying to survive, then came the pandemic.”
The transport industry has taken a severe blow as public transport and taxis have remained off roads for much of the past two years. The economic crisis in Kashmir started with the floods in 2014, followed by the demonetization strike which hit the economy, and then successive lockdowns and a series of events over the years broke the back of traders.
Kashmir overall suffers losses of thousands of crore rupees on a daily basis, Ashiq, the KCCI president said. “Economic losses in Kashmir in the last year were about ₹40,000 crores… Since the second COVID-19 lockdown, the daily loss is around ₹3000 crore loss,” he said. “Exports have also suffered a loss of more than 50 percent.”
In December last year, a 28-year-old contractor in south Kashmir’s advertisement in a local newspaper, offering his kidney on sale, had stunned Kashmir. “Maybe I would have been able to work and repay the loan but after the abrogation and pandemic induced lockdowns and economic crisis, I couldn’t find any work,” he had said.
The unemployment rate in Kashmir, a month before the August clampdown, was about 14.74 percent but drastically rose in the next six months to 21.08 percent, according to the CMIE. From an estimated 35,63,557 employed in the region, today there are about 29,94,081.
The local trade during the current lockdown, said Yasin Khan, president of the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, is suffering losses of “₹150 crores rupees per day.” The financial health of businesses in Kashmir, he said, “is at its worst”.
Owing to the overall economic crisis, the public’s spending power had also declined, said Khan, saying that when the lockdown was lifted last winter, there was no rush of buyers. “The rush that would be in markets earlier is nowhere to be found,” said Khan. “People don’t have the spending power to afford things.
In the third lockdown, there are no signs of economic revival on the horizon. The houseboat owners, hoteliers, transporters, and many from the informal economy are all abandoned and the area looks deserted. Of course, COVID-19 added to all the miseries.
For all traders, it is a matter of survival as the region has been struck by the unprecedented second wave of the pandemic in March. Jammu and Kashmir are witnessing more than 3000 cases every day and over 50 deaths on average.
Ashiq, the KCCI president said that Kashmir’s “economy is declining every year” and that “we are not seeing any improvement. Just decline.”
“It feels like there is a war going on,” Ashiq said. “Let us first come out of this pandemic to finally hope for the revival.”