Inclusion of Srinagar in UNESCO Creative Cities Network: A Watershed Moment for Local Arts & Crafts
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) sees its history of formation 76 years before. Founded at the World Heritage Centre in Paris, France, UNESCO has contributed to safeguarding and promoting human rights through integrity. UNESCO conceives development in synergy with initiatives linked to global levels particularly knowledge, research, technology, and creativity. This is the organization that exclusively works to safeguard world peace and sustainable development. It has been facilitating and supporting the nations that strive to be prompt in supporting its pre-requisite aims and mission. It has not only nurtured the countries to grow but paved a way to succeed with profound strategies and acknowledgment. UNESCO has enhanced and broadened its circle of recognition by exploring and giving prominent patronage to the fields of regional heritage and crafts.  With a motto to govern the legacies and set the ball rolling, the nations will see recognition and honor of their arts and crafts. UNESCO has been in news for various reasons but this year proved itself a pioneer in bolstering up the crafts of Kashmir that no one had pondered over before.
India was already on the list of most acclaimed nations and has put a competition through the work it has presented to the world.  The list of Indian cities swelled up and reached seven when the inclusion of Srinagar was recognized by the whole world this year. Srinagar has always been a part of harbinger of popularity, fame, and success to India but in November this year outdid itself by being on the top.  The inclusion of Srinagar's local art and craft has broadened and developed the chances of its economic growth and rejuvenated the strength and power of the local crafts and artisans.  The local art and craft of Srinagar is a concoction of hard work, skill, patience, and love that has created its heartfelt place in the millions of hearts across the globe.  The dynamic and vibrant craft in Srinagar is an opportunity for creators and professionals and this step by UNESCO will prove a leading edge to the art and craft industry of Kashmir.  It has sprouted the hope of setting the ground for permanent and befitting prosperity for local and emerging artisans.  The bewildering dreams and lifelong wait can be seen to be disseminated with the world heritage at the international level. This honor will vitalize the ‘’brand’’ of craft and will open up the scope of empowerment and the development of identity.
Srinagar is a stockpile of treasures, blended love, and rich skills of the Mughals, the Persians, and the Tibetans.  As the summer capital, one can find an array of unique articles here. Srinagar has been involved in making handicraft products for ages and when we think about the famous and notable crafts, Pashmina comes about to hit the top list. The exclusive range of pashmina hemmed in its original nature and craftsmanship has its place and accorded an honorable status to the crafts of Kashmir. A gentle flick over the wooly fibers will take you to the heavens. The wrap is the symbol of purity, love, and care. The struggle and hard work in search of Changthangi  Goat known for its ‘Pashm ’prove to be the most amazing fascination of the world for millions of people in the world. The love for Pashmina, because of its grace and exquisiteness, has instigated various sectors to create it and modify it but the originality and the purity remain with only skillful curators. This love and demand for the same have emerged as positive as well as negative competition for the stakeholders. UNESCO’s inclusion of Srinagar crafts will give wings to its valuable and distinct crafts and deeply ingrained in Kashmiri culture, Pashmina industry will be able to increase its stature and popularity across the globe. The trend of this rare craft was started by the artisans bought to Kashmir by Shah-I-Hamdaan (R.A). From there, the aesthetics of this craft was seen in gifts being presented in political and religious ceremonies as khilat. It has now become a part of the commitment to contribute to the network of crafts and creativity.  Since then, it is continuing to swoon the hearts and eyes. Where Kashmiri craft is known for its tireless efforts in its making and heritage, the advancement in the textile industry has given the competition for the makers of original pashmina products. But the question remains how exactly an original pashmina can be differentiated from its copies or other ranges. There are various types of pashmina products found today depending on the use of original pashm and the degree to which fibers other than pashm have been used.  The only pashmina which has been registered under the Geographical Indications (G.I) of Act of India in 2008 is unique and produced with a fineness of 16 microns and obtained from Capra Hiracus. With other criteria, it should be specifically handspun and with zero traces of any other fiber.
      The sense of originality and purity of this craft among the others can be fathomed with this step of inclusion and has given credibility to the entire stakeholders associated with it. Henceforth, it will help the customers to be aware of this backbone of Kashmiri crafts. One another benefit that is in the line is to give a boost to employed artisans and their arduous efforts for recognition associated with this process. It will help in tying loose threads between the customers and the producers of the craft. Now, there is a chance for restoring vigor in the art of making and selling this craft across the globe. Now the need is to fulfill demands and cater to the markets for a healthy revenue flow and the success depends on the consistency of seamless efforts made by stakeholders involved in the process.
The collaboration of local, central, and international organizations is important for the development of this sector. This sector is not new but we cannot deny other entrants that stay at the upfront. The focus should be primarily on product branding, production, and market intelligence. Other factors can embolden the trust and relationship within the market and this could be achieved by exuding passion and dedication to revitalize the age-old heritage and craft.