The Biz Reporter
Srinagar, Oct 17 – The traditional carpet-making industry in Kashmir, facing a decline in recent years, has been given a new lease of life as the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has sanctioned Rs 56 lakh for the training of 200 individuals from Other Backward Classes (OBC) and other marginalized groups.
Suresh Kumar Sharma, General Manager (Grants) at the National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC), confirmed the allocation in a communication to the Indian Institute of Carpet Technology (IICT) in Srinagar.
The Ministry emphasized that the beneficiaries must belong to either an OBC caste as categorized by the state or central government, with an annual family income below Rs. three lakh, or communities identified as De-Notified, Nomadic & Semi-Nomadic Tribes (DNTs), regardless of their caste or income criteria, or Economically Backward Classes (EBCs. However, priority should be given to individuals from the OBC target group.
Sharma stated, “In the case of OBC, the caste certificate issued by the appropriate state government authority should confirm the appearance of the caste either in the Centre list on the website or in the designated state government list. Annual family income from all sources should be below Rs. 3.00 Lakh.”
For EBCs, no caste certificate is required, but the annual family income from all sources should be below Rs. 1.00 Lakh.
In the case of members of the DNT Community, who are often deprived and migratory, exemptions have been granted from the requirement of caste certificates, income certificates, proof of age, and permanent addresses if unavailable. Instead, training providers can accept self-declarations from candidates regarding their specific caste, date of birth, and address, endorsed by the local Pradhan of the Community/Cluster.
The Central government’s decision comes at a time when handicraft exports continue to thrive, despite the Ukraine war and economic challenges in some European countries. Official data accessed by The Kashmir Monitor revealed that handicrafts worth Rs. 208.21 crore were exported in the first quarter of FY 2023-24.
Carpet exports have seen the most substantial increase, with carpets worth Rs. 88.92 crore exported in the first quarter of FY23. This was followed by shawls and rumals, with exports worth Rs. 79.95 crore. Chain stitch products worth Rs. 32.85 crore were also exported during the same period, along with papier-mâché goods worth Rs. 2.23 crore. Woodcarvings worth Rs. 1.72 crore and other products worth Rs. 2.54 crore rounded out the June quarter’s exports.
Despite the Ukraine war and COVID resurgence, the previous fiscal year saw a doubling of Kashmir’s handicraft exports. Official data revealed that handicrafts worth Rs. 1,116.37 crore were exported in FY 2022-23, a significant increase from Rs. 563.13 crore in FY 2021-22. This grant for skill development in the carpet sector aims to further strengthen and support the industry’s growth in the region.