The Jammu and Kashmir government is in the process of using nanotechnology to authenticate the genuineness of Pashmina shawls – a step that will curb counterfeiting of the world famous handloom product of the Valley.

“We have got a lot of complaints about some fake products being sold to customers in the name of Kashmir Pashmina. So, we decided to use nanotechnology chips which will be fixed on genuine Pashmina products after due authentication from a laboratory,” Director Handicrafts, Gulzar Ahmad Qureshi said.

Qureshi said the laboratory is being set-up at the Craft Development Institute (CDI) here and would be operational in about a month’s time.

“We are in the process of setting up a laboratory at CDI.

“It will be ready in a month’s time and we will start testing and authenticating genuine Pashmina products,” he said.

Director, CDI, M.S Farooqi said that certification is the second step of the process to check sale of fake Pashmina shawls.

“The central government awarded a patent recognising the Kashmiri origin of Pashmina in 2008. That was the first step.

Now, we are getting ready to test the products and fix nanotechnology chips on them,” Farooqi said.

He said each chip will have a unique number on it which will be connected to a central database of the Handicrafts Department.

Farooqi said it would be necessary for the weavers to certify the authenticity of the Pashmina products if they sell under the label of Kashmiri Pashmina.

“Either the weavers will have to bring their Pashmina items to the CDI or we will do random testing. The genuine Pashmina products will be authenticated and tags certifying their quality fixed on them,” he said.

He said the necessary infrastructure has been put in place with some equipment imported and the lab would be functional by the end of this month.

The step has been hailed by the artisan and business community here, who said that such a move will benefit the sector.

“It is a good move. It will stop the counterfeiting of Pashmina which was giving a bad name to Kashmir,” a Pashmina seller Ghulam Mohiuddin said.

“The step will give a boost to the artisans like me who put in a lot of hard work to make such products. It will ensure the genuineness of the products,” a Pashmin worker Farooq Ahmad said.

Pashmina is the Persian word meaning finest wool fibre.

Pashmina shawls are originally hand spun, woven and embroidered in Kashmir. Kashmiri Pashmina shawls are known for its softness and the fabric yarn is spun from the hair of the Ibex found at 14,000 ft above the sea level.

(This article was published on April 9, 2013)
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