• Akshita Mehra

Why is it crucial to support and protect local arts and crafts?

India is rich as a country in innumerable traditional arts & crafts. Handicrafts can be defined as “products which are produced either completely by hand or with the help of tools” and accounts for 15-20% of the country’s manufacturing workforce.

Arts and crafts in India are not just decorative, they embody an essential meaning for the maker and the user. Beyond a utilitarian role, they represent a deep connection to the earth, to myths and beliefs, to community and identity.

Due to the rise in technology, mass production & industrialisation taking centre-stage there is almost no space for handmade production. 

This Corona pandemic is a difficult time, especially for craftspeople as their life is dependent on daily production and sales. India has high skilled artisans/karigars and now is the time to promote local arts, crafts & handloom sectors more than ever. We must collectively push to boost domestic industries. We must make a conscious effort to support & empower Indian artisans, weavers & craftsmen in these curious & challenging times.

What are the current issues the crafts industry is facing?

  • Globalisation & Industrialisation

  • A highly decentralised industry

  • Limited exposure of artisans to urban markets

  • Inaccessibility to procure raw material

  • Cheaper alternatives in the market

  • Loss of interest in urban consumer

  • Production is seasonal as artisans indulge in agriculture for livelihood

  • Middlemen, more often than not, exploit artisans by paying them only a fraction of the wages, to grab a larger share of the profit

  • Since a large part of arts & crafts are sold locally/regionally, artisans don’t get the right platforms (stores/online) to get visibility

Why should we support it?

  • It has a low carbon footprint as it is essentially driven by human power

  • Craftsmen become self sufficient by generating a stable income, which in turn protects their livelihood and that of the future generations 

  • Helps economic growth and provides in numerous opportunities

  • Prevents migration of artisans

  • Women empowerment

  • Culturally, centuries old techniques could be lost permanently

  • It is authentic, unique & original

  • Crafts are not only highlights our country's heritage but is our global comparative advantage

How can we support it?

  • Create a connection/link between craftsperson and buyer/consumer

  • Find a balance between avant-garde and traditional designs

  • Help craftspeople understand modern markets

  • Showcase a craftspersons work in an exhibition

  • Initiate collaborations between designers and craftspeople

Indian Handicrafts are a priceless economic and cultural asset to our country. Handicrafts comprise of the second largest source of employment in the country after agriculture.

It is high time we realise how dependent we are on China in terms of production and that it is not sustainable. Now that governments need to restore their economics, benefits should be given to local productions.

As retailers, designers,designers,entrepreneurs, brands & individuals we must acknowledge how invaluable the skills, wisdom & expertise of a craftsperson are and apply that talent to our work.

Let us encourage, preserve & protect.

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