Meet the woman who is taking carpet industry to whole new level in Kashmir

Srinagar: An innovative step by a Kashmiri woman in the manufacturing of ‘Namdas’, a kind of mattress made from felted wool, has ushered in a new wave of employment to the beleaguered artists.

Born to illiterate parents, Arifa Jain, a resident of old Srinagar city, comes from a middle class family. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in commerce at the University of Kashmir with the goal of starting a business in future.

Her goal to succeed in business has taken the manufacturing of carpets to a whole new level. She has introduced the concept of design intervention, whereby major amount of time is spent in front of the laptop designing carpets.

‘Namdas’ used to be a vibrant business here that used to occupy 80 percent of exports. However, for the last 20 years saturation hit the carpet industry. As a result, the industry came to total standstill and lot of artisans lost their livelihood.

However Arifa’s effort to revive the beleaguered industry paid off.

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Arifa became interested in Namdas during a research project on declining crafts while getting her master’s degree at the Craft Development Institute in Srinagar.

As part of her research, she was required to introduce innovations to increase the marketability of Kashmiri Namdas. So instead of using local wool, she used 100-percent merino, a type of sheep prized for its wool quality.

She also used dyes free of azo compounds, a chemical used in dyes for its vivid colors, so they wouldn’t be harmful or bleed. She modified new designs in Namdas to make it appealing for the consumers.

Introducing the concept of design intervention has not only given her benefits but to the artisans’ on the whole. By tagging premium amount of price for each and every carpet’s design, she can pay her employees up to Rs. 400 per day.

However she bemoans that without government’s intervention her project cannot succeed.

“Despite the government’s announcement of skill India initiate, we haven’t received any support from the government. We need proper support mechanism. Hence it would be good if the government actively supports us,” she said. (ANI)