It is a giant leap for startups and innovators of Jammu Kashmir, the Lt Governor said.
J&K Chief Secretary Atal Dulloo on Sunday inaugurated the 2nd edition of the SARAS Aajeevika Mela, a vibrant 11-day event highlighting the resilience and creativity of rural women entrepreneurs.
Organised by the Jammu & Kashmir Rural Livelihoods Mission (JKRLM) under the Department of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, the exhibition opened its doors to a diverse array of art, craft, culture, and cuisine, echoing the spirit of ‘vocal for local’.
Dulloo was accompanied by Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, Secretary of the Rural Development Department and Panchayati Raj; Indu Kanwal Chib, Mission Director of the J&K Rural Livelihoods Mission; Mridhu Slathia, Additional Mission Director of JKRLM Jammu; Riyaz Ahmad Beigh, Additional Mission Director of JKRLM Kashmir, and other officials.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Secretary emphasised the significance of the exhibition as a platform for rural women from across the country, including Jammu & Kashmir, to exhibit and market their products.
He underscored the importance of providing broader exposure and support to ensure self-reliance among rural women.
Dulloo personally inspected stalls from 15 states, alongside those representing all districts of Jammu & Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh. He interacted with exhibitors and inquired about the uniqueness of their offerings besides commending their entrepreneurial spirit.
Later, the Chief Secretary toured the food stalls, featuring traditional delicacies from various states alongside authentic cuisines from Jammu & Kashmir. This initiative not only showcases the rich culinary diversity but also promotes cultural exchange and economic empowerment.
Featuring over 220 rural women from across 15 states, the SARAS Aajeevika Mela provides a platform for self-help group women artisans to exhibit their exemplary craftsmanship, artistry, and traditional skills.
The event showcases a rich tapestry of Pan-India, with 60 unique stalls, including 40 from outside the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, displaying a fusion of products from different regions of India.
Visitors to the SARAS Aajeevika Mela can expect a diverse range of beautifully crafted handloom and handicraft products, such as textiles, pottery, woodwork, metalwork, and paintings. Traditional music and dance performances will add to the vibrant ambience, celebrating the cultural heritage of Jammu & Kashmir.
The main objective of the SARAS Aajeevika Mela is to provide a platform for rural women to display their goods, create a market for them to sell their products directly to customers, and understand customer preferences and choices. Additionally, the Mela aims to enhance and reinvent products and sharpen the marketing abilities of rural women artisans.
In line with promoting financial independence, the fair also serves as a platform for members of the self-help group (SHG) supported by the Jammu & Kashmir Rural Livelihoods Mission to exhibit and sell their products. Each stall at the Mela is managed by confident and empowered women SHG members, offering a wide range of products that cater to diverse tastes and preferences.
The SARAS Aajeevika Jammu 2.0 will not only feature exhibitions and sales but also showcase various cultural programmes and activities to engage and entertain visitors. The organisers are also committed to promoting sustainable practices, such as avoiding the use of plastic by encouraging cloth bags and paper packaging. Waste management systems will be put in place to ensure cleanliness and hygiene throughout the event.
The SARAS Aajeevika Mela offers visitors the opportunity to explore around 60 stalls displaying a variety of art and craft. In addition, a workshop will be organised for women from self-help groups to enhance their marketing skills.