In Jammu and Kashmir, Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has been in the forefront of rural development and is one of the important arms of the government, powered equally by programmes and empathy to make a difference at the grass roots level.
As the Administration identified illiteracy and lack of employment as a root cause of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, it opened its coffers to the people of J&K providing them with all assistance to set up their own manufacturing units and be the employment creators.
KVIC facilitated setting up over 5,000 projects in J&K during 2019-20 creating nearly 43,000 jobs in the state.
In Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory 106 Khadi institutions are working . Of these, 12 are primarily dealing in production of Kashmir’s globally acclaimed Pashmina Shawls. Over 60 per cent of these shawls are produced in South Kashmir region like Anantnag, Bandipora, Pulwama and Kulgam that are worst-affected by terrorism.
The Khadi and village industry sector alone created nearly 15,000 jobs in the last one year. The products made in J&K found a large number of consumers in states like Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand.
There was a boom in village industries activities in Jammu and Kashmir during the last few years which accelerated further in the last year. The idea was to engage maximum people with new employment opportunities so as to connect the state with the mainstream.
KVIC drew the attention of all towards itself when Khadi Rumal (handkerchief) Centre set up in 2016 in Nagrota, Jammu rose to the challenge when India was yet to wake up to the Corona pandemic and there was shortage of face masks everywhere.
Nearly 300 women artisans of terrorism affected families from Kashmir Valley used to stitch Khadi Rumal at the Nagrota Centre and were earning their livelihood. But, when the entire country was under Covid-19 lockdown, it was the same group of women in Jammu, who led the country in producing the most-effective tool of fighting Corona – the face masks.
Rising to the challenge, the women started making Khadi face masks as KVIC converted its Nagrota Centre into mask stitching center and these women artisans took it upon themselves to produce Cotton Khadi face masks that were not only skin-friendly, washable and reusable but also the most affordable Khadi product.
A whopping 7.5 lakh Khadi face masks were ordered by J&K Administration alone. This not only aimed at protecting its people from the disease but also to support the artisans in J&K during the time of economic distress.
From the small-town stitching centre at Nagrota, the Khadi masks made their way to Rashtrapati Bhavan, Prime Minister’s House, several Central Government Ministries, State Governments and PSUs apart from a huge Indian population.