Recession Hits Kashmir Carpet

18 October 2009
Kashmir Watch

Srinagar: What the turmoil of past two decades could not do to Kashmir's prestigious carpet industry, has been done by the global economic meltdown. Lo and behold! The recession has made Kashmiri carpet industry to face losses to the tune of 70 per cent. 'Last year, our carpet industry achieved a target of Rs 500 crore. But the global recession has hit us hard,' says Naseer Kawoosa, a leading exporter of Kashmir carpet. 'We have suffered badly and have faced 70 per cent losses.' Kawoosa says that though the global recession is almost over now, still a slump in the international market remains. 'Even sales have not yet started and that has affected the production part also,' he adds. Records suggest that Kashmir valley possess more than 29,000 carpet weaving looms engaging more than three hundred thousand (3,00,000) local weavers whose sole source of earning livelihood is weaving. Making expensive woolen and silk carpets for buyers in Japan, England, Germany et al, the weaver has all along been in a pathetic condition as he-she gets just peanuts but the slump has denied them even these proverbial peanuts, sources within the industry say. Kawoosa says that due to absence of buyers, the flow of cash in the industry too is less as compared to normal times and that has affected the livelihood of those associated with the trade. 'We used to earn our livelihood by weaving carpets, but now, it is almost nothing. Given a choice, most of us would call it a day,' says Hilal Ahmed, carpet weaver. Turmoil that the valley has suffered for almost more than two decades has not affected the industry in the way recession strike industry. While admitting that instability impacts tourism and therefore the carpet industry too, Imtiyaz Ahmad Shah, another exporter reveals that turmoil of past two decades has not affected the industry as badly as the global recession. 'Mostly our market is outside the country and then we are co-related with foreign tourists therefore the turmoil had not much impact,' informs the exporter. Like the weavers, the exporters too are worried about the future of the industry. 'It has gone down, God knows what will happen,' says another apprehensive exporter. The carpet industry of Kashmir has its origin in Persia and the carpets made here were earlier largely influenced by Persian motifs. However, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the artisans in Kashmir began giving specialized touches to the carpets produced in the region, giving them a distinctive character.