(GIST OF YOJANA) Magic of Gifted Hands:
Empowering Handicraft Artisans
Magic of Gifted Hands: Empowering Handicraft Artisans
The origin of Indian handicrafts goes back to the early man living
in caves and giving creative expression to his/her emotions through various
carvings made on rocks. It travelled through the ages through various forms
of skill, techniques, art forms preserved in various folk traditions and
The artisans of India have always been recognized for their
craftsmanship, sense of design and color. The excavations of Mohenja daro
and Harappa show that even during the second millennium before Christ the
excellence of Indian artisans was established and was recognized world over.
The cottage industry provided not only employment to the rural
artisans but also played an important role in building a parallel rural
Even now the small scale and cottage sector helps to solve social
and economic problems of the artisans, by providing employment which also
includes a large number of women and people belonging to weaker sections of
Handicraft is rightly described as craft of the people and in
India it is not just an industry as the word is commonly understood but is
the aesthetic expression of the artisans which not only fulfills the daily
needs of the people but also satisfies their aesthetic desire.
The definition of handicrafts as per Honorable Supreme Court in
Louis Shoppe judgment decided on 12.03.1995 says “it must be predominantly
made by hand. It does not matter if some machinery is also used in the
It must be graced with visual appeal in the matter of
ornamentation or inlay work or similar work lending it an element of
artistic improvement. Such orientation must be of a substantial nature and
not a mere pretence”.
The handicrafts sector plays a significant and important role in
the country’s economy. It provides employment to a vast segment of crafts
persons in rural and semi urban areas and generates substantial foreign
exchange for the country, while preserving its cultural heritage.
Handicrafts have great potential, as they hold the key for
sustaining not only the existing set of millions of artisans spread over the
length and handicraft artisans in the country, which includes 20 lakh
artisans related to the carpet sector, practicing more than 500 types of
crafts such as Metal Engraving, breadth of the country, but also for the
increasingly large number of new entrants in the crafts activity.
There are approximately 70 lakh Zari Zardosi, Teracotta, Stone
Carving, Phulkari, Wood Inlay, Chikankari, Cane and Bamboo, Wooden Toys,
Blue Pottery and Kutch Embroidery.
Out of these, 35 crafts have been recognized as “Endangered
Crafts” such as Assamese Jewellery, Rogan Painting, Sanjhi Crafts, Ganjeefa
Cards and Chamba Rumal and 92 crafts have been registered under
“Geographical Indication Act” like Ganjifa cards of Mysore, Kashmir Paper
Machie, Madhubani paintings, Kathputlis of Rajasthan, Odisha pattachitra,
Varanasi Glass beads and Warli painting of Maharashtra. 56 per cent of the
artisans are female.
The handicraft artisans are mostly working in an un-organized set
up which makes them prone to exploitation by middlemen.
The handicraft sector has challenges of working capital, poor
exposure to new technologies, absence of full market intelligence and
institutional framework. Series of efforts have been taken to redress these
problems and the sector is now witnessing good growth in terms of product
development, domestic sales and exports during the 12th Plan.
Market Linkages are provided through various domestic and
international marketing events organized throughout the year in various
parts of the country. Domestic marketing platform is provided by organizing
Gandhi Shilp Bazaar, Crafts Bazaar, etc and organizing handicraft
exhibitions in prominent shopping malls of the country. International
Marketing platform is being provided to awardee artisans through
participation in international marketing events.
India is one of the important suppliers of handicrafts to the
world market. In the changing world scenario, craft products exported to
various countries form a part of lifestyle products in the international
The impact is due to the changing consumer taste and trends for
the 7 million craft persons who are the backbone of the Indian handicraft
industry possessing inherent skills, technique and traditional craftsmanship
quite sufficient for the primary platform.
However, in the changing world market, these crafts persons need
an institutional support at their places of work i.e. craft pockets for
value addition and for the edge with of her competitors like China, Korea,
There is a high demand for Indian utilitarian and traditional
crafts in the domestic and international markets.
Access to economic independence through the handicraft sector can
address the livelihood issues and would lead to income generation in rural
Also, skill upgradation and development in handicraft sector is an
excellent approach for development of artisans, poverty reduction and
providing income generation which would also help in achievement of
sustainable development goals.
The other competitors like China, Korea, Thailand etc. There is a
high demand for Indian utilitarian and traditional crafts in the domestic