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Empowering Rural Artisans

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  • Published
    27th Mar, 2021

India's exceptionally gifted rural artisans have contributed significantly to the nation's economy for many decades by their eye catching work. The art and handicrafts sector is the second largest employment generator after agriculture. According to the 2011 Census, there are over 68 lakh artisans in the country of which 55 percent are women. Handicrafts have sustained lakhs of artisans through the years. The sector provides employment to a large number of craftspersons in rural and semi urban areas and also generates substantial foreign exchange for the country. Its contribution in preserving India's cultural heritage deserves to be acknowledged.

 India is the world's largest producer and exporter of handmade carpets since 2013-2014. This is not surprising given the fact that 20 lakh of the total number of artisans are related to the carpet sector. The diversity of India's handicrafts is equally impressive. These include Dhokra, the oldest form of handicraft made by Tribals which originated in Madhya Pradesh. Apart from these, India has a rich variety of handicrafts of clay, paper, embroidery, bamboo, cane, jute, shell wood, rock, bell metal, bone, horn and brass. To organise and standardise the Indian handicrafts, approximately 22.85 lakh artisans have been trained under 'Pahchan' initiative.

Self-reliance is the philosophy handed down to Indians by none other than the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister ShriNarendraModi's continued emphasis on encouraging self-reliance through the Make-in-India initiative is well known.

  • The Central government launched, in its first term, a trade facilitation centre and crafts museum in Varanasi in 2014. The objective was to bring weavers and artisans under the same roof and give them marketing opportunities.
  • The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) conceptualised by Prime Minister in 2015, has left no stone unturned, to realise his dream of making India the enviable skill capital of the world.
  • Poorv Kaushalyako Manyata better known as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) as a component of its flagship scheme- the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)
  • The Skill India programme of, the government also has a dedicated handicrafts and carpet skill council aimed at preserving cultural heritage.
  • The Skill India programme has identified close to 90 job roles across sub sectors such as carpets, ceramics, glassware, traditional fashion jewellery, handcrafted textiles, handicrafts such as incense sticks and bamboo, metal ware, papiermache, stone craft, wood ware and handicraft toys.
  • The Ministry has collaborated with school boards such as the Central Board for Secondary Education to catch young citizens. The objective is to acquaint the youth with India's cultural heritage at an early age to equip them with skills and give them a possible career option.
  • The Ministry of Minority Affairs has been organising HunarHaats under USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) scheme. The USTTAD scheme aims at preserving and promoting the rich heritage of the traditional arts and crafts of the minority communities. 'HunarHaat' is becoming an effective platform to strengthen the mission of "AatmaNirbhar Bharat" and "Vocal for Local" initiative by promoting and encouraging indigenous products of master artisans and craftsmen.
  • Handicraft artisans can avail of MUDRA loan and margin money provided by the Office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts).
  • Under the National Handicrafts Development Programme in 2018-19 and 2019-20, the office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) implemented the Direct Benefit Scheme for artisans as a welfare measure. Some of these schemes included the Handicrafts artisans comprehensive welfare scheme which gives the artisans an identity card to enable them avail of all the schemes of the government.
  • Office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), is implementing over half a dozen generic schemes for the development of the handicrafts sector. These are the Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana, design and technology upgradation, marketing support and services, research and development, human and resource development, handicrafts artisans comprehensive welfare scheme and infrastructure and technology development scheme.
  • While Baba Saheb Hastshilp Vikas Yojana launched in 2001-02 is a cluster specific scheme, the other schemes cut across clusters.
  • A subsection of the Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana named Dastkar Sashaktikaran Yojana, facilitates community empowerment for mobilising artisans into self-help groups and societies.
  • Apart from this, other welfare measures are thePradhan Mantri Jeevan Bima Yojana/ Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Modified Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana through 'Life Insurance Corporation of India to provide life insurance protection to handicraft artisans.
  • The Mahila Coir Yojana scheme exclusively for training rural women artisans in spinning of coir yarn/various coir processing activities is provided to rural women.
  • The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises has been implementing A Scheme for Promoting Innovation, Rural Industry and Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE) to create new jobs in traditional and agri-based industries.
  • The Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) aims to organise such industries and artisans into clusters to make them competitive and provide support for their long-term sustainability, sustained employment, and enhanced marketability of products. SUFURTI works towards development of khadi, village industries, and coir clusters by providing workers improved equipment, common facilities centres, business development services, training, capacity building and design, and marketing support.
  • To develop socio economic conditions of tribal population, government initiatives led to the formation of Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED) in 1987. TRIFED enables the tribal artisans even from the innermost regions to participate in the process of their socio-economic development through formulation of decent earning methods.
  • According to Compendium of Geographical Indication Tags of India, a good number of handicraft products were registered crafts under Geographical Indication (GI) Tag. This will work wonders and help artisans get credibility for their products. Some of the handicrafts that have been given GI tags recently are:
    • Madhubani paintings of Bihar
    • Kangra paintings of Himachal Pradesh
    • Kutch embroidery of Gujarat
    • Bronze ware from Karnataka
    • Phulkari from Punjab


               Artisans not only contribute to rural economy but also they contribute for development of art. India being hub of traditional artisans, India can use its cultural ambassadors to boost its economy and also to export its culture to improve soft power globally.


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