What makes a handcrafted elephant, chiselled in the finest wood, metal or soapstone find a pride of place in your living room, truly special? Well, besides the fact it channels the “Made in India” spirit, it subtly promotes the talent of the Indian Handicraft Sector. Handmade products have a discerning market globally and India is renowned for not just the marbled wonder Taj Mahal, but exquisite design, superior workmanship, an astute understanding of colours, as well as the diverse raw materials, which have withstood the test of time.
The DC Handicraft under the aegis of the Ministry of Textiles is doing fabulous work by organising various initiatives where there is a direct buyer-seller, artisan – consumer interaction, creating a lucrative interface, minus middlemen. As the call for “Vocal for Local” gains steam, what the need of the hour is lighting up the festival of hope, Diwali, by spreading joy through gifting, with Indian hand-made curios.
This shouldn’t be restricted to just the tokenistic diyas, a brass Ganesh that entrances your pooja room; a sterling silver Lakshmi that brings with her the message of prosperity, this dhanteras but transcends to many other gifting products.
Indian handicrafts, made with slow processes are what the world needs right now, as the Vocal for Local spirit lights up Diwali
Interestingly, Indians who once loved the endearing austerity of Indian handicrafts whether it was an embroidered stole, sparkling with Kashida; Phulkari dupatta; Kantha sari fell to the charms of foreign, sub-standard Chinese replicas. The dire need now is to understand the prowess of what truly India stands for —- pure luxury made by hand with labour-intensive techniques. The clarion call to buy local crafts, sold by smaller stores as well as a dress this festive season with Indian designer wear which is soaked in Indian-ness.
Many attribute globalisation as the reason why people are shifting their preferences from handicrafts as a result true craft is facing peril. This is despite the fact that India is one of the biggest exporters of handlooms/crafts and the second largest employment generator after agriculture. With the work done by the Textile Minister Smriti Irani and the team in promoting Vocal for Local, offering upgraded technology, modern tools, and participation in trade fairs, as well as effective research in product development, has led to artisans getting work all year round. The employment generation in this sector has been growing at about 6-7 per cent yearly, in rural and semi-urban areas. Few know Kering, which owns brands like Gucci and Saint Laurent plans to start a hand embroidery workshop in India to improve working conditions and get direct skills of hand embroidery as well as ensure fairer wages for artisans.
We have been known for art and craft across the globe for centuries and the beauty of handmade lies in the myriad forms the country possesses emerging from its cultural ethos. There are many Corporates , Not for Profit societies and NGO’s that have also made efforts to provide sustenance to artisans many of whom are fast abandoning these age-old family traditions and moving to big cities in search of livelihoods. Others include instituting carpet weaving training centers in Bhadohi-Varanasi-Mirzapur to help weavers earn a steady stipend.
It is heartening when I recently read a piece about an Arts and Crafts Village, set up offering heritage products of Kerala to the world. The Crafts Village has 750 artisans including a Padmashri and Shilp Guru and boasts of handicrafts like ‘pattachitra’ (scroll paintings). These kinds of resuscitations also need to take place in the toy markets of Channapatna, where you will find Kondapalli and Sheesham toys and many artisans have been forced to shut shop due to the pandemic with orders delayed or cancelled. What is needed here is marketing to bring international focus on these toys which are sustainable and chemical-free.It also needs the Indian consumer to rediscover the handcrafted genius that exists.
I would again like to reiterate, the only way to resuscitate the crafts sector is if Indians adopt it wholeheartedly and make an effort this season to create a blueprint for a future that celebrates the vision of being self-reliant! — PIB
Sunil Sethi is a prominent designer and the Chairman of The Fashion Design Council of India, a non-profit organisation
Promoting diversity, equity and inclusiveness in veterinary profession
World Veterinary Day
For veterinary professionals, it is crucial to provide socially conscious learning and working environments as well as to eliminate obstacles to fairness and inclusion. Veterinarians operate in a world that is becoming more diverse and swear an oath to uphold public health. Students, team members, and veterinarians must have the knowledge and abilities necessary to meet every customer’s requirements and foster hospitable workplaces for every employee. Although diversity, equality, and inclusivity (DEI) and mental well-being (MWB) are still crucial for the veterinary profession, there is little information available on how professional bodies throughout the world approach these problems. The veterinary profession is a diverse field that offers healthcare and other services to a variety of different animal species. However, despite working with animals that come from diverse backgrounds, the profession itself has not always been inclusive of diversity in its workforce. There is a growing need for the profession to promote diversity, equity, and inclusiveness to better serve the needs of all animals and their owners. This essay will examine some of the ways in which the veterinary profession can promote diversity, equity, and inclusiveness.
One important step toward promoting diversity in the veterinary profession is to increase awareness of the opportunities available to individuals from different backgrounds. This can be achieved by reaching out to underrepresented groups and promoting the benefits of a career in veterinary medicine. Admissions committees for veterinary schools should take into account the unique challenges faced by underrepresented minorities when evaluating applications. This could include adjusting the emphasis given to academic achievements in order to account for the additional obstacles that students from disadvantaged backgrounds may have had to overcome. Making a commitment to diversity and inclusion necessitates uncomfortable levels of participation. Breaking out of our comfort zones might be one of the most difficult obstacles to achieving change in our environments. Discover activities that can help you get out of your comfort zone and into a daring space, allowing you to boost diversity and inclusion programmes in your organisations.
Professional groups and associations can also provide support by offering networking opportunities and resources that help individuals overcome barriers to success. They can also offer resources such as job listings, continuing education opportunities, and access to research and other publications that can help individuals stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field. Moreover, in promoting diversity, the veterinary profession must also strive for equity in its workforce. This means ensuring that everyone has access to the same opportunities regardless of their background.
Veterinarians should be evaluated on their merits rather than their race, gender, or ethnicity. This principle is central to the idea of meritocracy, which holds that individuals should be rewarded and promoted based on their abilities, achievements, and potential. Policies should be put in place to ensure that there is no discrimination in the selection process for veterinary specialists or in any other job opportunities.
Some possible policies that could be implemented to prevent discrimination in the veterinary profession include:
- Developing a fair and transparent selection process
- Providing equal opportunities: employers should provide equal opportunities for all applicants, regardless of their race, gender, religion, age, or other personal characteristics.
- Educating employees: Employers should educate their employees about discrimination and the importance of non-discrimination in the workplace.
- Establishing a complaints mechanism: Employees should establish a mechanism for employees to report incidents of discrimination and take appropriate action to address such incidents.
- Regularly reviewing policies: Employers should review their policies and procedures regularly to ensure that they comply with anti-discrimination laws and best practices.
By implementing these policies, the veterinary profession can become more inclusive, diverse, and welcoming to all individuals who want to pursue a career in this field.
Finally, inclusiveness in the veterinary profession means creating an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. Veterinary organisations should continue to raise awareness and reduce stigma related with mental health conversations at the national and regional levels through webinars, specific training, and broad ongoing education.
World Veterinary Day. In conclusion, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in the veterinary profession is essential not only for the well-being of veterinary professionals but also for the animals and their owners. Veterinary organizations, schools, and individual professionals have a responsibility to create a welcoming and inclusive environment that supports and encourages diversity, equity, and inclusiveness. By doing so, the veterinary profession can improve its service to a diverse clientele, foster a culture of inclusion, and better serve the needs of all animals and their owners. It is important to continue the conversation around diversity, equity inclusiveness and mental well-being and take actionable steps towards creating a more inclusive and equitable profession for all.
Veterinarians are essential members of society because of their compassion and caring. They are tasked with treating and caring for sick or injured animals until they are whole and content. So take a chance on World Veterinary Day and give our neighbourhood vets a thank you for all they do for the community.
Sanober Rasool is a PhD Scholar at the SKUAST-K’s Division of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Extension
Global eCommerce boom and local traders of Kashmir
A Structural Shift in the Market Preferences
Dhaar Mehak M
Tabeen J Wali
The global eCommerce market was expected to be worth a total of $5.7 trillion by the end of 2022. That figure is estimated to grow over the next few years; exhibiting the fact that borderless eCommerce is becoming a profitable option for online retailers. It is giving a market space to one and all with a potential or product to sell. Only two years ago, 17.8% of sales globally were made from online purchases. That number is again expected to reach 20.8% by the end of 2023; a 2 percentage point increase in eCommerce market share. This growth is expected to continue, reaching 23% by 2025, translating to an increase of 5.2 percentage points in just five years.
Economic projections and forecasts predict the global retail sales growth to rise even further and take up more retail market share. According to research completed by eMarketer and Statista, online retail sales will reach $6.51 trillion by 2023, with eCommerce websites taking up 22.3% of total retail sales. Although retail has had it tough since 2020, every national market covered by eMarketer saw double-digit eCommerce growth. The trend continues globally: Latin America (including Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico) saw $104 billion in eCommerce sales in 2022, up 22.4% from $85 billion in 2021. The UK is forecasted to continuously increase by $85.7 billion (+42.88%) within the next years.
China continues to lead the global eCommerce market, accounting for 46.3% of all retail eCommerce sales worldwide, with total online sales just over the $2.8 trillion mark in 2022. It also has the world’s most digital buyers, 842.1 million, representing 39.4% of the global total. The US eCommerce market is forecasted to reach more than $904.9 billion in 2022, a little over a third of China’s. After China and the US, the third-largest eCommerce market is the United Kingdom, taking up 4.8% of the retail eCommerce sales share. The UK is followed by Japan (3%) and South Korea (2.5%). The top five eCommerce markets haven’t changed since 2018. Trends from eMarketer suggest that these markets will stay in the top five until 2025.
While the whole world has been witnessing the structural transformation and shift in terms of market transformations from retailing to online shopping, the Indian economy has been a part of the process. In light of the same, the Jammu and Kashmir economy has had an equal and equally growing participation in the same. The advent of the internet and the arrival of eCommerce technology in the lives of average Kashmiris have changed the shopping preferences and experiences of the locals. People no longer have to battle issues like vehicular traffic on the roads or wait in queues for long hours. Accredited to the growth of eCommerce technology, locals have been empowered to shop anywhere-anytime just at the click of a button.
However, in the recent past, there was no (or very limited) concept of eCommerce in Kashmir. Smartphone availability to the general public was rare. The masses were barely aware about the internet facilities and global communication channels. There was no idea of online shopping, online transactions, etc. With time and the availability of the internet along with the growing mobile phone penetration, eCommerce made its presence felt in the valley. However, due to slower internet connection issues like 2G and lack of awareness, people initially had apprehensions and thus were afraid of buying things online.
Tracing the roots and history of online shopping awareness in J&K, it dates back to the year 2008 when the mobile internet was making its headway into the valley. People were gaining affordable and available access to wireless internet. It was around the same time that after bearing a lot of hardships with sorting out the supply chains Flipkart became operational and function in the region. the initial years were tough and hard but the company stood steadfast. It took some time for Flipkart to cut through lots of hurdles alone and get to success. Being the only player in the online market in the region for quite some time it was a big deal to keep surviving and floating. But the outcomes were a success.
Steadily as people gain access to quality internet services and advanced smartphone technology the word spread. It was observed that doorstep delivery was actually a reality. At the same time, the quality of the delivery matched the promises of the website. The trust factor got built. Witnessing optimism within the J&K market, other companies like Amazon, SnapDeal, and other local online stores, etc., started jumping in to tap into the growing eCommerce market. The consumers got the opportunity of choosing from a wide range of products. Not only that, discounts and sales from time to time offer big benefits to consumers.
All these factors have been contributing towards a structural market shift. People from across J&K have been moving from in-person retail shopping to online shopping. While the consumers in the region have surely benefitted both in terms of utility/satisfaction and profit maximization, the retailers have been losing.
The J&K economy is predominantly characterized as a consumer economy. The characteristics of being a producer and self-sufficient economy have been limited and rather absent for a long time. It is the retailer of J&K, who has been at the losing end on account of the growth of the online markets. Retailing has been one of the most common business ventures of people across the region of J&K. Setting up of the shops and selling various items has been a known venture. People for generations have been relying on this activity. Lately, the structural change is challenging this segment of J&K businessmen and the immediate solution visible is evolution. These businessmen, particularly retailers, need to adjust to the changing market and make themselves competitive enough to compete with global online sellers. The only other option is to let the business supper, deteriorate and shut down.
The Golden Flames Of Autumn Chinars
When God created this planet he embellished it with myriad colours so that human beings can see, feel and embrace them in different seasons. In addition to cool and warm colours usually, it is the green and white that represent seasons in Kashmir. The changing season brings new colours and in autumn it is orange, yellow, brown and red shades that dominate the scene.
How beautifully Albert Camus described the loveliness of the autumn season in a single line when he said ‘Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower’. Contrary to this thought, many say all beauty ends at the beginning of this season. They believe this season snatches life from green plants and trees to look everything dull.
I don’t know what autumn looks like in other places of the world but in Kashmir, it is dazzling owing to a presence of a good number of chinar trees. The glory of this tree is something unique. In its praise, a famous couplet by Allama Iqbal is very popular.
Jis khaak ke zameer main ho aatish-e-chinar
Mumkin nahi ki sard ho wo khaak-e-arjumand
(The dust that carries in its conscience the fire of chinar, It is impossible for the celestial dust to cool down)
It is quite amazing to see the dance of autumn leaves that appear vibrant while falling from tall trees. Just like some people are happy to get drenched in the rain during monsoons similarly a few like to dance with the falling of leaves in the autumn season. Indra Gandhi the third PM of India often used to come to Kashmir in the autumn season to see the picturesque fall of chinar leaves.
Platanus orientalis, The plane tree called Chinar in Urdu and Boen in Kashmiri. The long-lived deciduous tree is said to have originated in the Balkan area of the Mediterranean region. It grows well in temperate latitudes and is widely spread throughout Eurasia. This tree outside Kashmir is revered by Greek and Persian culture. Whether chinar has an indigenous origin or was introduced by foreigners in Kashmir is still debated in the academic circle. Once cultivated this tree flourished in the supportive environment of Kashmir.
The mystic saints Sheikh Nuruddin (RA) and Lal Ded have mentioned the name of this tree in their sacred works. The chinar tree planted by Sufi saint Syed Qasim Shah Hamdani in 1374 AD at Budgam was believed by MS Wadoo author of the book “The Trees of Our Heritage” to be the oldest in J&K. But the ongoing census and geotagging of chinar trees show some chinar trees to be 1000 years old in central Kashmir.
It should be noted that we get enough references about the presence of chinar trees in the valley during the sultanate period of Kashmir. But we also know that the Mughals promoted chinar on a large scale. They planted a majestic chinar tree in the gardens of Kashmir and gave it the status of a royal tree which remained intact to this day.
The world-famous Mughal gardens are known for their majestic chinar trees. The three well-known gardens Nishat, Shalimar and Naseem Bagh in the heartland of Kashmir are full of grand chinars. Over 1200 chinar trees were planted alone in Naseem Bagh by the Mughals. Outside the city, Mughals planted chinars in the gardens of Verinag, Achwal, Dara Shikoh Bagh, and Padshahi Bagh in the Anantnag district.
It would be quite interesting to call Srinagar the city of chinars. Besides Mughal gardens where chinars are planted in large numbers, one can see them everywhere in the city, on the banks of Jhelum, along the residency road and in the middle of Dal Lake.
The entire region of Kashmir is dotted by shady chinar trees be it cities or hillsides. The kings mostly planted these trees in important locations. It was the common people especially Sufi saints who took it to the villages of rural Kashmir.
A perfect example of beauty, this heritage tree is known for its gigantic size. Chinar is perhaps the only tree in the valley that can live for centuries. That is why the saying “Boen chi Gawah” which means chinar witness everything is very famous. This tree is a witness to history and holds a special place in the culture of this land. Under the shadows of this tree, many dynasties flourished.
The beautiful design of chinar leaf is well acclaimed in the Kashmiri handicraft and wood industries. Every part of the chinar tree is valuable. The timber is used for making furniture, the bark is used as medicine, and from twigs and roots fabric die is made. Its leaves are used to fuel the fire pot locally known as Kangri. But above all the majestic chinar is known for its aesthetic beauty. The experience of walking on the red carpet lying under the chinar trees is pretty special. The sounds produced by the crunching of leaves under one’s feet are touching. With the onset of autumn, people throng to the valley in great numbers to feel the life-giving warmth of chinar trees.
Boen-e-Shuhul, The cool shades of this tree are quite popular. In summer, people often take shelter under its strong and spreading boughs. Many people wish to be buried under the shades of this tree. Perhaps Sheikh Abdullah the author of Aatish-e-Chinar would have wished the same. Luckily he was buried in the premises of the historic Nasem Bagh on the shores of Dal lake in Srinagar.
Despite being a state tree, protected by the legislation, the number of chinar trees continues to decrease. In the 1970s as per the official count, there were 42000 Chinar trees in Kashmir and that number has been reduced to a mere 5000 now.
For some years now the government seems serious enough to promote heritage tourism by distributing saplings to increase the population of chinars in J&K. We should also plant chinar trees in abundance on chinar day which is celebrated on March 15 every year.
To mark India’s 75th year of independence this year in mid august the govt announced to establish at Srinagar the largest chinar park in the valley by the name of Chinar-Zaar. The autumn of Kashmir can be made even more beautiful if the government take initiative to establish new chinar gardens in every part of J&K.
A poet and writer, the author has done his MA in History from the University of Kashmir and MPhil from Punjabi University, Patiala. Presently, he is a freelance columnist. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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