Srinagar: Like in the rest of the world, World Heritage Day was observed in Kashmir valley also on 18 April, 2018. However, the mere observance of this day is not enough to save our heritage including handicraft!
Kashmir is gifted in respect of the heritage with old shrines, temples and not to forget, famous handicrafts, artifacts crafted by talented artisans.
To protect our rich heritage, Jammu and Kashmir government registered six traditional crafts under Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 such as Kashmir Pashmina, Kashmir Sozni, Kani Shawl, Papier-mâché and Wood Carving & Khatamband.
Registration under the Geographical Indications of Goods Act provides community ownership and protection towards traditional knowledge unlike trademarks or patents that are owned by individuals or independent organisations.
The registration was done for three crafts in 2008 and other three were registered in 2012 but the Act is yet to be implemented on these handicraft products.
Traditional knowledge is held collectively by specific communities and handed down in customary ways. The only way to save our traditional knowledge of handicrafts is to make sure that the Geographical Indications of Goods Act is implemented in letter and spirit.
The imitated products are available everywhere in the market. I visited a good number of exhibitions in and outside the state but everywhere there were fake items sold in the name of Kashmir handicrafts.
To save our rich heritage, an immediate initiative is needed. Our cherished heritage needs to be protected by all available means.
Precisely, every Kashmiri handicraft business person needs to develop patriotism which can only help save our handicraft heritage!