(GIST OF YOJANA) (GIST OF YOJANA) Magic of Gifted Hands: Empowering Handicraft Artisans [APRIL-2019] [APRIL-2019]

(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 aesthetic expressions.
  •  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 economy.
  •  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 the society.

Defining Handicraft

  •  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 process.
  •  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.

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  •  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’s scenario

  •  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 market.
  •  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, Thailand etc.
  •  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 areas.
  •  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 and international.

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