My Himachal, students frame marketing mechanism to save Kullu Shawl

weaver

In a significant development, My Himachal an NGO with the help students of S.P.Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai has come up with proposed implementation plan to revive the crumbling Kullu Handloom Industry. It is in fact, now in the hand of state government to take the plan seriously and try to do something concrete to save this age old art.

Ironically last year too, My Himachal with students of same institute had found out the reasons behind tottering weaving industries and suggested the ways out. A NGO-students deputation met concerned officials and minister over the matter and even handed over their findings to the CM.

A free health insurance was extended to all weavers in the valley soon after the deputation met CM. However going by the present deplorable condition of industry, these measures will not be able to survive the art. The certain steps are required, without which the art may become a thing of past.

Pooja Adiga and Ajay Simha the students of Institute have chalked out a revival mechanism for this industry. The co-operative societies, who are involved in the making of authentic hand woven Kullu shawls, should be registered with the buyer. The terms and conditions can be mutually agreed upon and are then they allow showcasing their products on the websites, the students point out. Currently, Bodh Shawls and Ganapathi Co-operative have expressed an interest in this venture. The students are also in the process of identifying other interested co-operatives by seeking help from bodies such as HIMBUNKAR. The certain parameters such as quality check and supply-demand equilibrium are currently being looked into. The proposal is that, My Himachal shall do the quality check before the products are being shipped out to their respective locations, besides ensuring a steady supply of goods throughout the year.

The benefits of such a plan are immense, feel Pooja and Ajay. On the supplier side, it opens up untapped markets and multiple marketing channels to the co-operatives. It creates sustained demand and gives them access to latest consumer trends. Also, it brings in a much needed work ethic and most importantly boosts the current state of the industry. On the buyer side, it gives them a First Mover Advantage (access to authentic hand woven products that have the finest quality and finish) and also leads to increased revenues at minimal costs, since the setup is already there. It also greatly enhances their existing brand image whilst boosting their CSR initiatives.

The major hurdles in this are power loom players, lack of awareness amongst weavers and co-operatives, lack of a progressive attitude, lack of proper implementation of the GI and the handloom mark as well as ineffectiveness or the lack of government policies.

To annual the impact of these obstacles, major stakeholders in this industry like government, bodies such as HIMBUNKAR need to be get involved actively. In association with the Tourism Department, a mechanism should be setup to invite private players into this market. Apart from privatization and increased market accessibility, there are many other things that will also ensure revival of this industry. Important amongst them is product diversification. The success of privatization would eventually lead to this, but it is important for suppliers to diversify their existing product portfolio to cater to a larger base of consumers. Access to latest consumer trends would help them create / obtain better designs for their products, and here again, the govt can ensure access to both.

The Geographical Indicator (GI) for Kullu shawls that was approved in 2006 hasn’t moved much since. The GI would go a long way in preventing cannibalization from power loom players thereby setting the base for the revival.

GI can be a lifeline for Kullu shawl!

GI is a name or sign used on certain products which correspond to a specific geographical location and origin. The use of a GI acts as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin.

GI has proved to be very valuable as it identifies the source of the product and is an indicator of quality. It highlights the peculiar qualities of a product, which are due to human factors, such as specific manufacturing skills and traditions. GI can be life saviour for gradually dying art. Yet, the imitations stuffs have not only flooded the market but also offer whopping discounts to tourists. GI, if implemented, prevents sale of non Kullu shawls. It also prevents proprietors from using the name “Kullu shawls” if they are produced outside of the defined geographical territory of Kullu valley. It is interesting to note that unauthorized shopkeepers or producers cannot even use sign boards/hoardings of selling Kullu shawls. In the event of anyone found selling fake shawls, a huge penalty will be imposed on them or imprisonment of 6 months to 3 years or both under the GI Act of 1999.

The KSWA took the initiative and registered Kullu Shawl as a GI in 2006. Ever since, there has been slow progress on the implementation. The registration has an expiry period of 10 years before it has to be renewed again, of which 3 years are already lost trying to get things implemented.

The logo, which is a representative of Kullu shawls as a GI, is yet to be finalised and this has largely due to the miscommunication between the Department of Science and Technology and KSWA. Also, the KSWA hasn’t got adequate resources even to set up a working office in the valley and has applied for funds which have to go through the layers of bureaucracy and red tape at the government level.

The major retailers of the state have a lot to lose if the GI is implemented because they cannot sell just any shawl as a Kullu shawl to the guileless tourist. And because of this there is an underlying, subtle resistance to the implementation.

Over the last 3 years, the government, despite its best efforts hasn’t been able to do much in this regard. But the problem here does not lie in a lack of effort, but it lies in a lack of “channelized” effort. The government must appoint an independent person to look into this matter immediately.

7 Comments

  • One of the reason for the poor response to Kullu shawls is that now cities down the hills don’t have so much cold and winter lasts for just only one and a half month. Also with the change of fashion the new generation do not want to wear heavy and thick kullu shawls.These days young girls go for Stoles as they are easy to wear and can be folded in a purse. Also the Ludhiana based Shawl industry is sucking the blood of Kullu weavers.They make cheap and almost same designs on the machines and sell them as original Kullu shawls in Delhi and in foreign countries. Kullu weavers are not in a position to export their product to the international markets and Himachal Govt. does not offer any help to them in this regard.

    Now with the change of fashion when clothes are not to cover the bodies but to show the curves , Kullu weavers should make light weight shawls that can be worn in parties ( like Kashmiri Shawls) and not the heavy ones that just protect the body from cold because no body minds a little chill these days

  • Just come and investigate the hiddeen truth in KULLU VALLEY. Just go to handicrafts department and ask for details for funds released for handicrafts promotions through NGO’s, there are hundreds of fraud NGO’s in Kullu Valley run by so called “Handicraft & Handloom Promotion Societies”

    These NGO’s have created a Havoc with innocent weavers and got funds in crores from central and state givernment in the fraudulent ways and never spend even 5% on actual weavers. They have ammassed wealth and enjoy life in luxury cars and for whom funds were provided ‘dont even know that government has relased grants in their name.

    You keep saying that save the weaver ‘save the weaver…then i challenge you to accompany me and find out details from handicrafts department based at KULLU and see that funds like water have been given to these fake NGO’s with the help of corrupt officers who have “EATEN THE JUSTIFIED GRANTS OF POOR WEAVERS.

    The tragedy is that suffering of weaver and Kullu Shawl is not because of competition of Ludhiana Shawl…but it is dying from the termites of own land who have enjoyed grants for personal gains. The people who didnt had just few thousands properly in their personal bank accounts are not playing in crores, fighting tenders of construction and so on and FAKE NGO”s are closed with all documentation completed with assistance of depertments farud employees.

    I ask you to bring Aaj Tak or Star TV crew and go to Handicrafts department and see for your self that there are fake lists of beneficieries who “actually never got a single penny” out of government schemes and funds issued from Misnitry of Textiles.

    This kind of practical interrogation will unearth the biggest scandal of Handicraft funds in Himachal Pradesh in the last 10 years. People think HImachal is corruption free and everything goes smoothly here…but the caes is opposite, many scandals happen here and never get noticed properly because media is not that active and brilliant in Our state.

    If you are truly concerned about promoting Kullu Shawl & savinng the interest of weavers, then take a legal action against these fraudulent NGO”s, i want to see what step you take legally towards those culprits who have played blunder with Public funnds and grants issued by Ministry of Textiles.

    And to your surprise some people who have done frauds in crores are also member of your MyHImachal NGO.

    Dont you agree? then come to KULLU VALLEY and i will introduce them to you and ask them in front of you to show the details of funds they have “MISUTILISED IN THE NAME OF PROMOTING HANDICRAFTS”

    Just back me legally with all force and I will let you know why the weaver is dying and Kullu Shawls getting eloped, just because our own people are sucking funds from givernment like Dracula and using them for personal enjoyment !

    And I am sure when you people will know this reality, you will also “remove” this save the weaver link from your web site , because it takes courage to action which i dont will be possible with you people.

    After some investigation koi kisi ka chacha niklega, koi neta ka bhateeja koi BJP ka market president to koi congress ka Banda and everything will go as usual !

    • I agree with you. All these schemes and aids to uplift the common people are made to divert the government funds into the hands of persons who work hand in glove with the corroupt govt. officials. May be they are NGO’s or the relatives of our beloved shameless politicians. Many co-operative societies that are working in Kullu get loans and subsidies from the government and divert the funds elsewhere.
      You are right when you said that the media in Himachal is weak but they are also for sale and can be easily bought . So only Gods of this valley can ” SAVE THE WEAVER ” which I think have also adopted the attitude of — We don’t care–and fed up with our system.

      • Rajesh dear, the weaver is dying because termites and leeches in out homeland have sucked blood and flesh of this community.

        I ask this my himachal group to highlight FAKE NGO’s on this web site and their financial blunders that have happened in last decade, I am sure that this will bring / unearth ugliest of scndals in Himachal Pradesh.

        Sab chor kisi politician ke risthedar hain to kisi party ke funding supporter to koi kisi mantri ka khas (Left-Right).. but they need to be squuzedd off so that they cry out of pain for cheating with innocent artisans and weavers who are living under sheer poverty.

        Choron ki Barat hai jismain sab taraf lutere aur thug shamil hain..

  • Rajneesh,

    I understand your feelings and also all the details you have provided agitates me, just like you. But ‘My Himachal’ as of now is strongly based in USA, now our TEAM is coming up in HP also. Whatever we do, we do with member raised funds.

    Projects like ‘SAVE THE WEAVER’ we do with college students to raise awareness, which should be from media as well as local and state machinery side.

    We run this platform so as voice can be heard and opinions like yours can be debated and also forces which are for HP’s causes can be strengthened.

    We submitted the report last year to government as well as local organisations but as you can see very little was done. Our idea is to bring together intellectuals and build an idea, suggest and act is either going to be state government side or individuals or team people like you. With limited resources we can do just this much however of course plans are bigger but support whether financial or vocal is very very limited.

    • Dear Avnish,

      if we are unable to nail down the culprits then there is no use of dicussions and propagating concerns for weavers or anyone like that.

      I know why the response has been very low from people or even members…people just get involved just to “Be a part of it” and Intellectuals dont want to take action because they know that if they throw stones in mud slit ..they too will get drenched with it.

      Unless we wipe out rotten roots there is no remedy. Pruning and cutting rotten leaves will yield no result as after few days again infected leaves will come alive.

      If we want to make a revolution then we certainly need media’s active role, or rather i suggest make a media company in Himachal who bares all the blunders in Himachal..Our media people have limitations, their salaries are very low that naturally makes them fall prey to these political scoundrels who exploit their vested interests.

      It looks very nice to see web site activities / updations goes on people commenting on articles, but no substantial change in reality, the system remains same at its worst.

      Do you think these politicians/government departments will ever take notice of all your efforts? on the most they and you will exchange flowers and garlands with each in some press conference and give some press statements by saying ‘Wah Ji bahut acha kam kiya” and thats all !

      Dont submit any report to these deaf and dumb politicains as they throw these in dustbins once you go away. Your reports and analysis disturb their source of power and enlightens people whom they have been befooling for decades.

      Just organise “Aap ki Adalat like program in Himachal and invite CM to answer questions and i bet you that he will become speechless and nervous to see what blunders are happening in State under the nose of Handicrafts department. In Handicrafts department alone, there are grants of more than 50-60 lakhs to individual NGO’s who have never given “actual training” to any weaver and have consumed funds by fake enteries.

      A scheme called Ambedkar Hastshilp Yojna is given to many NGO’s in Himachal and most of these fraud NGO’s have grabbed funds in millions by providing false details of beneficiries with the help of corrupt officers.

      Artisans and poor weavers dont even know that funds worth thousands and lakhs have been issued for them for training and improvement of Handicrafts which are actually “eaten by the people who run these NGO’s.

      I am sure if your NGO takes legal course and asks for financial details under RTI (Right to information act) from Handicraft and State industrial department then many defaulters will get heart attacks or will run away from State to hide themselves.

      But the fact is that we keep highlighting these scoundrel politicians everywhere giving them free publicity. Just throw them on the last pages of your web site and bring public actions/activities into focus and see that people will respond you greatly !

      Support doesnt come out properly because peoplelike you who are brains of organisation are living in USA. Thats how USA has become the No-1 country in world…it highjacks intelligencia and robs nations with its intelligence and brain power.

      I am sure you will come out with practical solutions that reflect, not just publicity of press release and Neta logon ka gun gan all the time which yields nothing more than silly political debates. You have good team, like Ravinder, Disha and Sanjeev etc who write well and balanced articles giving readers a chance to post comments.

      I too feel like fitting in your group sometimes but I am hard to handle for anyone.. beyond grasp and control.

      Rajneesh Sharma

      • Rajneesh,

        At this moment all I have to say is that first step is taken for next steps please join and strengthen this TEAM effort.

        Best,
        Avnish.

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