BUDGAM: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha inaugurated the SFURTI Heritage Cluster of J&K Khadi Sukhnag Sozni Embroidery and Village Industries Council in Magam, Budgam on Saturday.
The Lieutenant Governor said this SFURTI cluster will provide a holistic approach to the development of Sozni’s handicrafts, from production to marketing, while serving the needs of at least 500 artisans.
The government has taken various measures to make the handicraft sector more competitive, stimulate exports and give a boost to village industries, repositories of the creative tradition. We are committed to building capacity, fostering innovation, best-in-class infrastructure, easy access to credit and market, the Lieutenant Governor said.
We have policies in place to ensure that artisans have the opportunity to display their products at national and international exhibitions and receive a better price for their products, the lieutenant governor said.
The Lieutenant Governor observed that the “Vocal for Local” initiative has exposed J&K’s cultural and artistic heritage to the world.
“The craft sector has faced many challenges due to Covid, but it certainly has the potential to shift UT’s economic growth onto a higher trajectory and provide employment to a broad pool of our young people,” he said.
The Lieutenant Governor emphasized that the creativity of all artisan-artists will be more productive in the future thanks to the government’s targeted investment in skills development, modern technology and innovative business practices that will directly contribute to the increase in craftsmen’s income.
Highlighting the role of craftsmen who represent the richness of traditions, customs and cultures, the Lieutenant Governor made special mention to Sh Bashir Ahmed Bhat, an award-winning craftsman from Beerwah, who had done outstanding work in Sozni embroidery.
On this occasion, the Lt Governor also awarded certificates to Artisans and Entrepreneurs for their outstanding performance under the Prime Minister’s Job Generation Program (PMEGP).
The Lieutenant Governor said that under the PMEGP program, the Khadi Village Industries Board’s achievements last year were five times the target. Financial assistance was extended to 5,851 units from the target of 1,008 units and more than 47,000 people were directly employed.
In all programs in the crafts sector, we have tried to facilitate and directly reach out to women and marginalized families. Of the 12,000 units that have been installed in the past two years, 4,000 units are run by women and 1,000 units belong to marginalized sections, he added.
In Jammu and Kashmir, clusters being established under the Scheme of Funds for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) will focus on maximum participation of women. About Rs 24 crore is being spent on setting up all these clusters which will contribute to better production and marketing of rural products.
On occasion, the Lt Governor has provided all possible support in the form of financial assistance, skills development, capacity building, etc. young people who are inclined to start any entrepreneurial activity related to the crafts sector.
The Lieutenant Governor observed that the Department of Industries has also launched the Export Incentive Program in which a 10% incentive is given on the total volume of GI certified products to promote the export of handicrafts.
The Lieutenant Governor also mentioned the QR code launched for the world famous Kashmiri carpets, in addition to several important steps taken for GI certification, testing, labeling and training to promote Kashmiri carpets. A project on innovative and economical packaging of handicrafts has also been completed in association with NIFT Srinagar to expand the reach of niche handicrafts.
The Lt Governor asked the departments concerned to constantly review all the measures launched for the benefit of weavers and craftsmen. The industries and handicrafts department of Khadi and Village will work together on an innovative marketing strategy to ensure better prices for J&K handicrafts, he added.
The Lieutenant Governor reiterated the administration’s determination to provide facilities such as better links to markets for handicrafts, maximum employment opportunities, in-home financial assistance, design support, skills development, cluster capacity building without any hassle.
The Lieutenant Governor urged the people to work for peace which is imperative for development.
Society should not be trapped in the infamous conspiracy of enemies and their masters. All they intend is to push J&K back into the dark phase of violence, he added.
After being briefed on the issue of foster care promotion in Budgam, the Lieutenant Governor said the matter would be taken up with the affected wards for appropriate action.
The Lieutenant Governor also visited handloom stalls in Kanihama village and interacted with artisans.
Nazir Ahmad Khan, Chairman of DDC, Budgam, expressed his gratitude to the government-led Lieutenant Governor of UT for taking dedicated measures for the welfare of the people.
Chief Secretary Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta said the people of J&K are witnessing the positive change taking place in all sectors and commended KVIB for making strides in promoting traditional arts and crafts.
The Chief Secretary also reiterated the government’s commitment to doubling the incomes of artisans and craftsmen in the future, in addition to providing the necessary hand-in-hand for budding entrepreneurs. He further explained that KVIB should give full support to artisans to introduce their products to wider consumers.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Hina Shafi Bhat, Vice President of J&K KVIB, said that the creation of the Sozni cluster is one of many measures taken by the council for the promotion of arts and crafts. She further said that traditional arts and crafts clusters like Sozni would be established in J&K to provide sustainable jobs for artisans and rural entrepreneurs.
Highlighting the achievements made under the Prime Minister’s Job Creation Programme, Dr. Hina Bhat informed that over the past three years, 35,185 units have been created under the PMEGP. A grant of Rs 747 cr and a bank loan of Rs 2200 cr have been released, in addition to 2,80,000 livelihood opportunities have been generated from these units
Vivek Bhardwaj, Commissioner of Finance (Additional Chief Secretary) of the Department of Finance, speaking on the occasion, highlighted the initiatives taken by the government for the welfare of artisans and craftsmen.
He said the main objective of the newly created facility is to stimulate the activity of local traditional industries.
department heads of various departments; members of the PRI; Prominent citizens from all walks of life besides craftsmen, craftsmen and entrepreneurs were present on the occasion in large numbers.