World’s only Pashmina activist gives creative ideas for “Make in India” initiative
Jammu Kashmir News
JAMMU, Feb 27: Model Institute of Engineering and Technology (MIET) organized the 3rd Computer Society of India (CSI) J&K State Student Convention at its Kot Bhalwal campus, here. Babar Afzal, Founder Pashmina Goat Project and the only Pashmina Activist of the World was the Guest of Honor. The theme of the Convention was ‘Make in India, Make in J&K’. Over 600 students from CSE, IT and MCA departments from MIET and other institutions will participate in the 2 day event, which is sponsored by CSI. An ‘Idea Fest’ competition wherein teams pitched their technical and business ideas to the eminent jury was held along with a workshop on “Developing Creative Ideas”.
Babar shared his journey of becoming a Pashmina Goat Shepherd with the students and highlighted various economic concepts that can help entrepreneurs understand the big picture. He stated that heavy snow has been killing Pashmina Goats in the Indian Himalayas from the past several years, threatening supplies of silky cashmere wool used to make high-end scarves. Thousands of nomads rear the goats in the inhospitable terrain of Ladakh, a high-altitude desert renowned for its dramatic landscape of towering mountains and arid plains. From past few years, goats were starved to death in the Changthan region because their fodder was buried under unusually heavy snow.
In order to sensitize and launch a global initiative to protect the entire Pashmina Eco-System (that includes the Pashmina Goat, the Shepherds, the Communities and their Families which are dependent on the raring of this goat, the Yarn Weavers , the Manufacturers, the Craftsmen and the Buyers), Babar Afzal, The Himalayan Abstract Artist & Social Entrepreneur has been hosting Art exhibitions, press conferences, talks and personal interactions with the stake holders in an attempt to sensitize viewers towards the specie and ensure that a larger community participates and celebrates this magnificent specie, The Pashmina Goat. Afzal, a native of Jammu & Kashmir, wants to get more of the profit back to his home region to save an industry that is in precipitous decline from a lack of investment, Chinese competition, and a series of devastating winters. He hopes some of the money will pay for amenities like roads and hospitals.
For the past few years, Afzal has joined the nomadic families from August to October as they guide their flocks along dizzying cliff paths, risking avalanches and cloudbursts, to meet buyers who come from as far as France to obtain raw wool. Babar is aggressively working on the three point program for enhancing the Pashmina Eco-system which includes the preserve the Pashmina Goat, Awareness about the Fake Pashmina which is destroying the Real Pashmina Industry and creating of a retail fair trade platform for Pashmina Industry that would represent over 3,00,000 strong community of shepherds, weavers and craftsmen linked with the Pashmina Eco-System.
Babar quit a high profile corporate career and became a nomad to herd goats. Babar who has been a techie and a business consultant working in USA, UK, Middle East is also is known for his oration and skills and gets invited regularly by premier institutes like the IIM, Ahmedabad, MICA, Engineering Institutes, TEDx etc. He is also a proud recipient of many national awards and believes that India is in his blood and that is all that is needed to make a global impact.
MIET operates one of the largest CSI student chapters in North India with over 500 active student members. Prof SK Sharma, Director, Academics welcomed the dignitaries on the occasion. Prof Ankur Gupta, Director, MIET made a presentation on the innovative projects at MIET including the 12 patents filed on various IT applications. He also encouraged the students to innovate and push the boundaries of technical excellence.
Later, Babar distributed the certificates and cash prizes to the winning students and interacted with them. The students had questions about the innovative projects they were setting up and Babar spent time mentoring them during the workshop.