The Gist of Yojana: November 2016
Sustainability of the Handcrafted
The Indian handicraft and handloom industry forms an integral
part of the rich cultural heritage of the country. It is an unorganized,
decentralized, labour intensive cottage industry which provides employment to
crafts persons in rural and semi urban areas and generates substantial foreign
exchange for the country, while preserving the rich and unique cultural heritage
Agricultural and pastoral communities have traditionally
depended on their skills in weaving and handicrafts as a secondary source of
income. It is estimated that there are around 23 million people engaged in
handicrafts and weaving today. As a socio-economic group, they are at the bottom
of the pyramid. The tangible contribution by the sector is evident in
significant export earnings. Indian handicrafts are exported across geographies,
with major destinations being developed markets such as US, the UK, the UAE,
Germany, France, Latin American countries (LAC), Italy, the Netherlands, Canada
and Australia. On a cultural plane, they are the conveyers of India’s rich and
ancient traditions in craftsmanship and epitomize the beauty of the handcrafted.
Investing in the crafts sector offers tremendous opportunity
to improve the economic, environmental and social conditions of rural
communities. The global market for crafts is projected to reach around USD 700
billion by2019; India’s present share is below 2 per cent, representing a
significant growth opportunity. There are environment benefits too. Production
processes used in crafts have a low carbon footprint and promote the use of
locally available materials as well as natural and organic materials where
possible. Crafts production represents an opportunity to provide a source of
earning and employment for otherwise low-skilled, home-based women, improving
their status within the household and community.
Harnessing the potential of this sector requires different types of
investments to preserve traditional crafts, strengthen the sector, and improve
the incomes of artisans.
The Mega Handloom Clusters Scheme has been actively engaged
in developing clearly identifiable geographical locations that specialize in
specific products, in skill up-gradation, imparting design inputs, improving
infrastructure facilities and health facilities to meet discerning and changing
market demands both at domestic and at the international level and to raise the
living standards of the millions of weavers engaged in the handloom industry.
Secondly, crafts have to be con temporized and made relevant
to urban lifestyles; branding efforts need to be strengthened to enable Indian
crafts to compete in global markets, and new business models need to be
developed that blend social and commercial goals. India Handloom Brand is ail
important initiative in the marketing and branding context. It was launched by
the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India on the occasion of the first National
Handloom Day on August 7, 2015. It is an initiative for branding high quality
handloom products with zero defects and zero effect on the environment by
endorsing their quality in terms of raw materials, processing, embellishments,
weaving design and other quality parameters and by ensuring social and
environmental compliances in their production.
Another concern is the lack of professional guidance that is
available to artisans in product design to cater to swift changes in consumer
tastes and preferences. As part of attempts to address this concern, the
National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) has integrated the 'Craft
Cluster Initiative' into its curricula that allows students to work in
collaboration with the artisans and weavers from different geographical areas of
the country. This helps in exposing the students to the challenges faced by the
sector and in introducing new designs, techniques and materials for the benefit
of weavers and artisan community. It also exposes the weavers and artisans to
the challenges of the modern marketplace.
Promotion of marketing of handloom products through
e-commerce is therefore one of the priorities of the Ministry of Textiles. In
order to promote e-marketing of handloom products in a transparent, competitive
and effective manner, different e-commerce platforms have been engaged for
marketing of handloom products. By building such a marketplace, the artisan can
be empowered to earn a decent livelihood.
The crafts sector can benefit through a multi-stakeholder
approach by increased participation by different stakeholders such as
government, financial institutions, non-profit organisations and academia in
their areas of specialization. Building a collaborative ecosystem will align the
roles of different stakeholders, each of whom can support artisans in different
ways. An interesting example is that of the Aqua Weaves of North Eastern
Development Finance Corporation, an Assam-based organisation which has turned to
the perennial and polluting water hyacinth to come up with a range of
interesting products like bags, home decor and utility products. Following
Thailand and Malaysia and with design inputs and expert advice from the National
Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, the products have evolved and are understood to
command a market not only within the country, but also overseas including in
Nepal and Japan. This has benefited the artisans engaged in this activity.
Other unique and treasured fabrics of India made by skilled
weavers over the centuries and accorded GI status include the famed Pochampali
ikat, Kanjeevaram silk, Srikalahasthi Kalamkari, Maheshwar, the Kantha (an
indigenous household craft of the women of West Bengal), the Jamdani, a vividly
patterned sheer cotton fabric, the Baluchari and the famed Orissa Ikat to name a
few amongst many others.
The GI protects the traditional knowledge of the communities
of weavers and artisans and affords legal protection against unauthorized usage;
it assigns a collective monopoly to the artisans thereby protecting the unique
cultural heritage of our traditional arts and crafts.
In an increasingly mechanized, homogenized world, ensuring
the sustainability of skills, techniques and the traditional knowledge behind
India's myriad handicrafts and handlooms is a major challenge. Rural youth are
increasingly disenchanted with family craft traditions, being exposed to the
struggle to find markets and fair prices. People need to be sensitised about the
importance of our' crafts. Rigorous efforts, therefore need to be made to
provide children of artisans with education, training, access to the market and
with wages for a dignified livelihood to enable them to continue their family
and community craft traditions which have given India a unique place in the
world of handcrafted products since time immemorial.
Online Portal for Handloom Stall Allotment
An Online Portal for Handloom Stall Allotment was launched by
Ministry of Textiles in New Delhi recently. This portal is envisioned as a
weaver friendly platform which shall streamline allotment of handloom stalls.
Annually, an estimated 340 marketing events are supported by the office of
Development Commissioner Handlooms. The new portal is expected to provide
transparency, simplified procedures, ease of access and ensure level playing
field to fresh applicants, weavers and organizations, to promote marketing hand
How does the Online Portal work?
Weavers/Organizations will be able to apply on online portal
as and when online applications are called by way of advertisements in leading
newspapers. Weavers/Organizations will register themselves for Applying for
Allotment for the first time. Thereafter, their data base will keep getting
updated. The System will allot them a login and pass-word for the purpose of
After getting registered, they can apply online. Online
applications will automatically get forwarded to the Weavers Service Centre (WSC)
under whose jurisdiction the applicant-falls. Applications will be scrutinized
by the WSCs within a stipulated time and applicants will have to be told the
reasons for not recommending particular application. The recommended
Applications will be compiled centrally by system and will be ready for
computerized draw. State wise and slot wise computerized list of selected
candidates including waitlist will be prepared.
System will send alert SMS and email to the allottee
mentioning allotment of stall along with stall number. The applicant will be
able to take printout of allotment letter from portal after login into it. With
the printed copy of allotment letter, they can approach the organizers for
handing over them the stalls.