State Award to Master Craftsman - The valley of Kashmir is synonymous with whatever is beautiful and charming. The Handicrafts of Kashmir add to this charm exceptionally by providing fine quality Handicrafts items be that shawls, carpet, crewel, chain stitch, wood carving, paper machie or many other items. This craft combination has evolved a cultural heritage which is rich as it is multifaceted. The Kashmir Handicrafts have a unique place in the world and is a good foreign exchange earning vehicle. After Agriculture and Horticulture, Handicrafts activity occupies an important position in the economic structure of the J&K state. The Handicrafts sector is thoroughly spread in our state and has substantial power of survival besides having the capacity to grow both in size and its share of economic activities. Presently this sector provides jobs for nearly 3.50 lac of artisans and supplies an enormous variety of products amounting to ` 1538.28 crores for the year 2012-13 and has generated export business up to ` 1843.21 crores for the year 2012-13. The Handicrafts activities are best suited to the Kashmir Economy because of its comparatively low investment and high benefits thus creating a healthy balance of economic betterment and employment generation. For the upliftment of artisan community, the state Govt. has launched several schemes and State Award Schemes is one such scheme aimed to encourage the talented craft persons to excel their workmanship skills and to give them recognition for having contributed in the development of the craft of the J&K.
The State Award Scheme was initially launched in the year 1980 at the behest of a great visionary of State Sheri-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah the then Chief Minister. The schemes induced a great enthusiasm amongst the artisan community who continued to produce artifacts of par excellence. The scheme remained in force up till 1988 and the turbulent times took a tool of this scheme as well.
During the year 1999-2000 the scheme was re launched with vigor and vitality. Under the scheme ten prominent craft categories have been identified for which there is a scope to grant State Award annually. Each craft group carries three awards as first, second and third prize. The artisans of J&K state have proved their mettle in carrying the rich craft tradition of the state in spite of being threatened by machine made fake and look a likes. The participation in the State Award competition is an indicator that our artisans are still toiling hard in creating such craft items having acceptance in National and International markets.
The State Award vide Govt. order No: 23-IND of 2012 dated 3.2.2012 has been enhanced from Rs.0.15 lac to Rs.0.50 lac for first prize, Rs.0.10 lac to Rs.0.30 lac for second prize and from Rs.0.05 lac to Rs.0.20 lac for the third prize to help in giving a great fillip to the craft activity of the state so that the younger generation shall take the Handicraft activity as their main occupation and bestow it the glory as it had experienced in the past.