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Indians are gifted with great history and ethical values.

Handi India

is home to an estimated 6.8 million
artisans. The production of handmade products could very well be the second largest source
of employment in rural India after agriculture. Yet, for a country with beautiful handmade
products, tremendous diversity and a rich craft tradition, India’s share of the global market
for crafts is less than 2%. In our relentless drive towards urbanization and job creation
requiring new skills, has the handmade sector—handicrafts and handlooms—been forgotten?
Between the second handloom census in 1995 and the third one in 2009-10, the number of
handloom weavers and ancillary workers decreased by 2.2 million. This is a flight similar to
what is visible in agriculture. Why should poor artisans and weavers bear the brunt of
upholding our rich craft tradition if it cannot provide them with a life of dignity and comfort?
Historically, the handmade sector in India was characterized by local demand, interdependence of communities, the use of local raw materials and most importantly, patronage.
Lest this gives the impression of being very romantic and equitable, let us not forget that this
was rooted in our caste system as well, with its many accompanying transgressions. Over
time, all of this has changed. Can this sector be resurrected? We live in an era of massproduced goods where economies of scale have led to lower prices. New materials have been
developed that are not just cheaper, but more durable and easier to manage. This is a reality
that we must contend with. Handmade products are not cheap any more. Think about it. If
you want a product that has been made by hand—how can or why should it be cheap? In fact,
by virtue of the fact that it has been produced exclusively—where exact replicas are hard to
find and most of the products are limited edition—shouldn’t we be willing to pay a higher
price? It is difficult to distinguish genuine handmade products from those made on power
looms or the ones mass-produced by machines. Attempts at certification of genuine craft
products and award of the Craftmark, the first such independent effort, have not taken off as
consumer demand for certified produce has not grown and producers have limited incentives
to adopt this practice. Private enterprise accounts for a bulk of the market share for
handmade products as well as export. Yet, voluntary organizations such as Dastkar, Dastkari
Haat Samiti, Crafts Council of India, Sasha or government efforts such as Co-optex and the
Cottage Industries Emporium have made a significant contribution in linking producers to
markets, improving their skills, organizing them and providing visibility for their products.
There is a need for a policy environment to support voluntary efforts in the craft sector since
they can reach marginalized producers and link them to markets. But, more importantly, the
government needs to disinvest from its own loss-making efforts and create an incentive
structure and supportive environment for genuine handmade products. The government
needs to recognize the importance and problems of the sector and regularly collect and
disseminate information on different facets of this sector. Producers also suffer from the
paucity of information—particularly about market demand conditions and the response of
consumers. Handmade products are largely produced in homes, are conducive for smallscale manufacturing and require ancillary industries and activities to flourish. For a large
number of people seeking to move out of agriculture, there are possibilities in the sector to
strengthen the manufacturing base in the country and to move away from caste-based
occupations. At an individual level, instead of merely lamenting the decline of our craft
tradition or expecting cheap products, we need to recognize that crafts need our patronage. -

com/2012/10/indias-forgottenhandicrafts/#sthash.ennovent.See more at: http://blog.z2W22rXa.dpuf .