Jammu: Babar, the Pashmina Activist and the global voice of Pashmina from Himalayas, who was profiled by TIME Magazine for his work on Pashmina, hailed the Government decision, on the recent controversy over the decision of Leh administration to auction Pashmina raw material to outside traders. However, after the outrage by local artisans and trade bodies, Leh administration decided to hold the auction at Jammu instead of New Delhi. The order stated: “The Managing Director J&K SICOP has contacted the district administration and Ladakh Hill Development Council Leh in this regard and it has been reported by the Managing Director, J&K SICOP that they are ready to participate in the auction and procure Pashmina Wool for further sale among the artisans and weavers in the making of Pashmina products” . Welcoming the move Babar said, “As an activist I represent the local stake holders and artisans and it is important to watch the interest of the community which is reducing rapidly and the auction of Pashmina should happen within the state itself”. He said the decision of authorities would ensure the local artisans and manufacturers get their due share of the profit. “Holding auction for outside the state traders would have a drastic impact on the Pashmina industry of J&K. This move of Government will make sure that the artisans and manufacturers will get their share of profit before selling it to outside,” said Babar.
As per the government orders, the decision was taken after taking into account the reports and the artisans and weavers engaged in the making of Pashmina based products in the state are facing huge difficulties in the procurement of Pashmina Wool for making such products. The order further states that “livelihood and income of a very large number of artisans and weavers is dependent on supply of Pashmina Wool”. The auction would be organized every year in Jammu. Babar also stated that the creation of Pashmina raw material bank is a long pending demand of artisans and the business community and Pashmina artisans have hailed appointment of SICOP as nodal agency for procuring raw Pashmina.
Babar, who is the founder of the Global Pashmina Goat Project and the Chairman of KASHMIRINK Foundation, and has a huge support from the community of Pashmina Shepherds and Weavers, told that it is a good decision which will help the Pashmina industry in a long way. “We welcome it and appreciate the role of Financial Commissioner I&C, Khurshid Ganai and media which highlighted the issue,” he said, adding that the foundation will continue to play pivotal role in ensuring upliftment of the communities linked with the Pashmina Industry Eco-System in J&K. He said: “There is need to ensure proper supply of Raw Pashmina to artisans in order to ensure their employability. The decision of state government will make sure that Pashmina weavers get continuous work and the rearers of famous Pashmina goats of Leh district will get a huge relief as the Leh administration and SICOP entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for ensuring a fixed market for the Pashmina and for protecting the interests of small weavers of the region. According to the MoU, SICOP will lift the Pashmina produced in Ladakh region every year by depositing its advance with the Pashmina Cooperative and would thus supply assured market to the nomads of Leh and a good price. Further, this would also ensure supply of genuine raw Pashmina to the weavers and artisans of Kashmir and would break the nexus of middlemen. The nomads of Ladakh and Babar have hailed the signing of the MoU as this would for the first time protect the poor nomads and the weavers from the exploitation of the middlemen. Recently, the Pashmina of Ladakh and the end-products made out of it have earned its GI patent also. The signing of this MoU is expected to strengthen this patent as well. Babar has launched the “Global Goodwill Ambassador Program” to sensitize the global audiences about the challenges faced by the Pashmina Indusry Eco-System across Himalayas. He is also about to launch the next program called the “Friends of Pashmina Goat” which would bring together a very large global community to support the Global Pashmina Goat Project launched by him last year.