MAKER'S STORIES - Mohammed Abdullah
It is no secret that fake wool and Chinese products are being sold in the market in the name of Pashmina due to the advent of machines, which has led the Pashmina industry to suffer major setbacks. The fake products are being bought by the uninformed customers in bulk at a low price, which has left hardworking artisans much irrelevant in the modern market. This has proven to be detrimental for both, the economy of Kashmir and the reputation of Pashmina. The worst hit have been the artisans, at least 200000, whose livelihood depended on Pashmina alone. In the modern society, where the machines have taken over, has made the artisans irrelevant who worked with hands or used hand loom for weaving. Now the artisans are left with no other option than to either switch to other jobs or work for those who own power looms. The craft once introduced to make the local people independent, has now forced them to be dependent on those who take the maximum profits and deprive the real artists even the benefit of the basic earnings. Mohammed Abdullah Sheikh from Tangmarg, an area 40 kms from the main city, is amongst the affected artisans facing acute pressure from family since 20 years now. The 70 year old Sheikh has been associated with the craft since 35 years. Starting Pashmina work was like a dream come true for him, as he earned very well and could easily support his family. But the dreams shattered to a point where he was even deprived to send his children to school. The unfavorable current scenario has negatively affected thousands of families for whom Pashmina was bread and butter. But after the advent of power looms, youngsters from Sheikh family prefer labor to Pashmina.