GI tagging and Kashmir crafts

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There is some more good news for those associated with handlooms and handicrafts as the Department of Handicrafts and Handloom (H&H) Kashmir has submitted the dossier for registration of two more crafts viz. Crewel and Chain-stitch to Intellectual Property India, Chennai, an apex body for the registration and better protection of geographical indications (GI) relating to goods in India.So far 7 major crafts from Kashmir namely Kani Shawl, Pashmina, Sozni, Paper-Machie, Walnut Wood Carving, Khatamband, and Hand Knotted Carpets have already been GI certified. Besides, the process of GI registration of five more crafts viz., Kashmir Namda, Wagguv, Shikara, Gabba and Kashmir Willow Bat is already under process and the dossier for GI certification of all these crafts has been submitted with the GI authorities in Chennai last month. The GI tagging has acquired a greater significance ever since the focus has shifted towards Vocal for Local. Besides helping local artisans economically, the GI tagging has every potential to shut down the fake products and those trading in these in the name of Kashmiri crafts. While the process is going to empower the artisans and save the traditional local crafts, it is also going to give a flip to Kashmir’s economy.  It may be mentioned here that Kashmir crafts, in absence of GI tagging had earned a bad reputation as cheaters would sell shawls and other items, purchased from Amritsar and other markets, as genuine Kashmiri crafts. Those indulging in the trade of fake Kashmiri crafts had destroyed the local industry thus rendering scores of craftsmen jobless. However, with the GI tagging of several items, the crafts have got a new lease of life and thus those involved with the trade have again got an opportunity to exhibit their talent and earn an honest livelihood.

The officials disclosed that there are more than 10,000 craftsmen associated with the twin crafts of Crewel and Chain-stitch scattered over different districts of the Kashmir region and they all shall get benefitted from the GI certification of these crafts. These crafts have an export potential of more than 200 crores. GI tagging of these items is aimed to help recognize and promote age-old crafts and methods that are otherwise in danger of being lost due to urbanization and industrialization as machine-made products have implied a challenge to the entire Handicraft and Handloom sectors. The GI certification will go a long way in preserving the crafts as well as facilitating buyers in making the purchase of genuine handmade products. It may be mentioned here that Kashmir has been famous for its handicrafts and handloom products but due to the negligence of respective governments, these crafts were loosing their sheen as markets were flooded by fake items. GI tagging will do away with the fake and will open the markets for genuine goods and thus help these crafts and those involved with it survive and flourish.

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