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New initiative in J&K for Pashmina shawls

Context:

A rare initiative to double the wages and ensure round-the-year orders by the Centre For Excellence (CFE) is poised to address the significant decline in the number of women associated with hand-spinning of yarns for Pashmina shawls in Kashmir.

In the backdrop of this trend, the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom, Kashmir, has announced a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Pashmina Wool.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Agriculture and Allied sectors, GS-III: Intellectual Property Rights

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Pashmina Shawls and what is the history behind them?
  2. How is the Pashmina Shawl produced?
  3. Changthangi or Pashmina goat
  4. Pashmina wool
  5. Changpa

What are Pashmina Shawls and what is the history behind them?

  • Pashmina Shawls are a fine variant of shawls spun from cashmere wools. A cashmere wool itself is obtained from the Changthangi goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) native to the high plateau of Ladakh.
  • Pashmina shawls gained much prominence in the days of the Mughal Empire as objects of rank and nobility. Babur first established the practice of giving khilat – giving ‘robes of honour’ – in 1526 to members of his court for their devoted service, high achievements or as a mark of royal favour. 
  • Through the enthusiastic use by Empress Joséphine – the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte – the pashmina shawl gained status as a fashion icon. 

MSP for hand spun, hand woven Pashmina fixed

  • In a significant step towards promotion of Handicrafts, the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom, Kashmir has announced a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for GI certified Pashmina shawls.
  • The MSP of Pashmina was determined after three consecutive meetings that were held at Indian Institute of Carpet Technology through discussions and considering various types of expenditures incurred during different stages of manufacturing.
  • Among the various benefits of adopting Minimum Support Price policy, it will help in reviving hand spinning and hand weaving and will help grass root level artisans who work hard to promote these crafts by virtue of which Kashmir is famous.

GI Tag for Pashmina 

  • In order to preserve the centuries old art of spinning and weaving of genuine pashmina fabric and to maintain international standards the Government of India (Under WTO) has established a quality mark for genuine Pashmina that will identify items the genuine fiber known as Pashm obtained from the goat living in Ladakh of Kashmir region. 
  • Geographical Indication (GI) Label on Kashmir Pashmina acts as a certification that the product possesses certain unique qualities not found elsewhere and is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin, under the Paris Convention and Lisbon Agreement.

BIS Standards for Pashmina

  • Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) had published an Indian Standard for identification, marking and labelling of Pashmina products to certify its purity in 2019.
  • The certification will help curb the adulteration of Pashmina and also protect the interests of local artisans and nomads who are the producers of Pashmina raw material.
  • It will also assure the purity of Pashmina for customers.
  • It will ensure better prices for the goat herding community in Ladakh as well as for the local handloom artisans producing genuine Pashmina products.

How is the Pashmina Shawl produced?

  • Every winter the goats from whom pashmina is acquired shed their coat. 
  • In the spring the undercoat is shed, which is collected by combing the goat instead of shearing them as is the case with other wool collection activities.
  • The pashmina wool is produced by the people known as the Changpa, a nomadic people who inhabit the Ladakh region. The Changpa rear sheep in a harsh climate where temperature drops to −40 °C .
  • Raw pashmina is exported to Kashmir where the combing, spinning, weaving and finishing are traditionally carried out by hand by a specialised team of craftsmen and women.
  • The major production centre of pashmina shawls is in the old district of Srinagar. 
  • It takes about 180 hours to produce a single piece of pashmina shawl.

Changthangi or Pashmina goat

  • The Pashmina goat is a breed of goat inhabiting the plateaus in Tibet, Nepal, parts of Burma and neighbouring areas of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, India.
  • It is also known as ‘Changthangi’, ‘Changra”.
  • They are raised for ultra-fine cashmere wool, also known as pashmina once woven.
  • These goats are generally domesticated and are reared by nomadic communities called the Changpa in the Changthang region of Greater Ladakh.
  • The Changthangi goats have revitalized the economy of Changthang, Leh and Ladakh region.

Pashmina wool

  • Pashmina is a fine type of cashmere wool.
  • The textiles made from it were first woven in Kashmir.
  • Often shawls called shahmina are made from this material in Kashmir and Nepal; these shawls are hand spun and woven from the very fine cashmere fibre.
  • Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) had published an Indian Standard for identification, marking and labelling of Pashmina products on August 2019 to certify its purity.
  • Kashmir Pashmina has been accorded Geographical indication (GI) tag under Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.

Changpa

  • The Changpa are a semi-nomadic Tibetan people found mainly in the Changtang in Ladakh and in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The homeland of the Changpa is a high-altitude plateau known as the Changtang, which forms a portion of western and northern Tibet extending into southeastern Ladakh.
  • The Changpa of Ladakh are high altitude pastoralists, raising mainly yaks and goats.
  • The Changpas rear the highly pedigreed and prized Changra goats (Capra Hircus) that yield the rare Pashmina fiber (Cashmere wool).

-Source: The Hindu

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