With ‘Pashmina’ on mind, Modi tells entrepreneurs to increase India’s ‘Soft Power’ 

Representing JK, Aaditya Kitroo, a Pashmina exporter, suggested that fake handicrafts need to be checked, which are a clear threat to Kashmir’s heritage

New Delhi: In a two day interactive session of young entrepreneurs from across the country with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kashmir’s famed but troubled Pashmina trade got special attention.

The session titled “The Champions of Change” brought together the brightest young business minds from across the country to brain-storm  with secretaries of central ministries, and among each other, on initiatives to transform India.

The session started on August 16 and went on till August 17. A special focus of the event was on building India’s soft power across the globe leveraging the country’s tourism, media and crafts’ potential, wherein the current status and the future of Kashmir’s Pashmina industry was also deliberated upon.

The selected entrepreneurs chosen for the two day session included those from established business houses, and the notable names were Samrat Zaveri of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri, Kiran Grandhi Rao of the GMR Group, Neel Raheja of the Raheja Group.

Those from innovative young enterprises were Ashish Hemrajani of BookMyShow, Riteish Agarwal of the OYO Rooms and Vijay Shekhar Sharma of Paytm.

From Jammu & Kashmir, Aaditya Kitroo, Director of Jos&fine, the Indo-French brand known to produce the finest yarns of Pashmina fabric in the world was present.

Aaditya Kitroo, Director of Jos&fine

Kitroo, aged 30, returned to Kashmir in 2015 after completing his MBA at Europe’s elite Rotterdam School of Management, to work in and revive the world famous Pashmina handloom industry.

His company Jos&fine, which manufactures Pashmina products in Kashmir and has a design centre in France, is known to have produced the finest yards of Pashmina fabric recorded till date.

Speaking to FreePressKashmir, Kitroo said that in the session he suggested various public-private partnership models in order to revive the Pashmina industry.

“We provided policy inputs during the sessions on reviving Indian craft forms and using them to generate employment and increase India’s global soft power, a point that was re-iterated by the Prime Minister during his closing address of the conclave,” Kitroo said.

He added, “I proposed various Public-Private-Partnership models to revive, sustain and promote the Jammu & Kashmir’s handloom Pashmina industry.”

While a number of issues were discussed behind the walls of the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra building over the two days, the special mention of Jammu & Kashmir’s Pashmina was noticeable.

Kitroo, who lives in the Shivpora area of Srinagar, the summer capital, also proposed that the government should examine legal aspects of Pashmina’s trade marking and ways to appeal against it.

“Another suggestion was to setup a committee to research into listing and trade-marking craft names so that other renowned crafts do not suffer the same fate as Pashmina, which has been trademarked by an Anglo-French firm,” Kitroo asserted.

“In addition, I suggested the setting up of museum style workshops wherein the experience of a craft from the start to end through a guided tour can be presented to visitors – tourist and locals alike,” Kitroo told FPK.

Kitroo believes that if a check is not kept on fake handicrafts, the heritage and culture of Kashmir is in grave danger.

“There are various protection mechanisms against fake handicrafts that the government has to implement. Many of our Kashmiri arts will go extinct in the next decade or so if the private players and government do not act in tandem. It is a clear danger to our heritage and culture,” Kitroo pointed out.

The programme was chaired by Amitabh Kant, Chairperson of the NITI Aayog, and the conclave saw more than half of centre’s cabinet participate alongside the Prime Minister in sessions.

The Cabinet Ministers included Arun Jaitely, Dr. Jitendra Singh (MoS, PMO) and Prakash  Javdekar among others, while the senior functionaries of the government included Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa and Industries Development Secretary Ramesh Abhishek among others.

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