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  • Early Day Motion for preserving Authentic Pashmina being tabled in the Houses of Parliament 

LONDON: Babar Afzal, who has been advocating for the rights of the communities linked to the authentic Pashmina eco-system of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh in India, was invited to speak at the House of Commons, British Parliament, London. The event was curated by Lakshmi Kaul, who is the founder of the Jammu Kashmir Festival and Head (CII) UK and Sonal Sher, Director of the Festival. The event was hosted by Bob Blackman MP, Vice-Chair of Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group and Patron of the Festival. 

Babar Afzal, in his address explained the complexity of the authentic Pashmina eco-system and the multiple layers that overlap and why it is important to understand and comprehend the complexity before an effective solution is designed and implemented. He spoke of his journey and the lessons he learned while living with the Goats, Shepherds and the Weavers of Pashmina. He talked about the many years of struggle and how the faith, the Pashmina community put in him gives him strength to carry on. His journey inspired those in the room and touched them spiritually as well as left a glint of hope in people’s heart. Approaching the Pashmina from not only the luxury product and a commercial product perspective, he highlighted the significance of preserving and protecting not only the Pashmina Goat but also the many communities that form the ecosystem spread across all the three region of the state of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and thus the Pashmina. 

Babar is a proud recipient of the Shri. Rabindranath Tagore Award, Dr. B R Ambedkar Award, Rajiv Gandhi Excellence, Karmaveer Chakra (UN), Bharat Gaurav Awards. He has also received Honoris Causa (Peace and Humanity) CIAC, the Paramount Medallion of Honor, Scion of Magna Mater by World Peace and Diplomacy Organization and International Peace Governor by WPDO. Babar is also a six times TEDx speaker, a TED Residency Finalist and a WIRED Innovation Fellow UK. Babar quit his corporate career six years back and turned into a Pashmina Activist highlighting the issues linked to climate change and injustice in the Pashmina eco-system across Himalayas.

Babar along with his wife and co founder of the initiative Henna, who has been involved with the Pashmina community in Kashmir is now laying the foundation for building the largest authentic Pashmina social enterprise on the planet that would ensure that the Pashmina eco-system is not only guarded but also empowered through intervention at multiple levels. He envisions Peace in the region through this initiative that has multiple micro projects underway. 

Babar’s address at the House of Commons was well attended by eminent people from the fashion industry, theatre, politics, industry, supporters of wildlife preservation, media and ethical fashion. The curator of the event, Lakshmi also screened the film, “Call of Pashmina” based on the life and journey of Babar Afzal, a former McKinsey Analyst who gave up his corporate career to be a Pashmina Goat Shepherd and a Pashmina Artist.

The film that portrays the life, journey and vision of Babar showcases this through the internal lens of the Pashmina ecosystem as opposed to the external commercial lens. The film has already won a number of international awards and is being screened at the British Documentary Film Festival - Leicester Square London, Green Motions Film Festival - Germany, Directors Circle Festival of Shorts – Erie - Pennsylvania, Quotes from the Earth - An Environmental Film Festival - Delhi and Woodpecker International Film Festival – Delhi this year. 

After listening to the facts and importance of looking at the authentic Pashmina eco-system of Jammu and Kashmir, India and the number of people linked to it directly and indirectly for their livelihood, an Early Day Motion is also being tabled in the House of Parliament to highlight the need for focussing on the preserving the authentic Pashmina Eco system and also to seek support for the Peace campaign of Babar Afzal.