Catalyzing Craft

Art History/Craft History, Craft, Handloom, Art, Policy

Catalyzing Craft: Women Who Shaped the Way

Sethi, Ritu


Mahatma Gandhi’s powerful call of Swadeshi and Swaraj to his fellow Indians not only created the radical shift that led to the crumbling of imperialism in India, the call was equally a beacon to the spinners and weavers, the makers by hand, spread across rural India. His vision for a self reliant, free India closely linked to its resurgent village industries and its village roots laid the foundation stone of women’s leadership and empowerment in the craft movement. In parallel in Bengal the visionary Nobel Prize winner, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore initiated a search into the indigenous roots of culture, setting the bedrock, inspiring others to follow.

Over the almost seven decades since India’s independence, many women contributed to change, walking the long road to try to convert the vision of a revitalized crafts and handloom sector into reality. While hard to single out names as their histories are largely unrecorded, the aim of this brief essay is limited. It is first, to briefly examine and identify those women who led the way shaping the journey, creating invigorated patterns of impact and influence. Whether working pan-India or in localized spaces, these authors of development created and empowered the crafts1 and craftspeople2.

The second aim is to signpost the changing mandates that lead to directional change. Models of development which whilst rooted in a similar ethos, metamorphosised and adapted to fit the rapidly evolving social, cultural, political and economic landscape in which the crafts and craftspeople were situated.

A fitting starting point of the journey is with Kamladevi Chattopadhyaya whose pioneering work in the decades after independence rejuvenated and vitalized the crafts and the craftspeople across India. When appointed the Chairperson of the All India Handicrafts Board (AIHB) in19523, the situation she faced on the ground is hard to imagine today. With a nascent polity, an uncharted territory, crafts and craftspeople displaced and unsettled in the turmoil of independence and the partition of the country, it was a enormous mission that the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru entrusted to her. “This was a challenging task for there was no previous experience on which to build the work. It meant the creation of a new economic order for a newly independent country which would nurture and support the existing structure and skills.” 4 The task of formulating policy, the setting up of institutions, and the designing of a framework for the crafts to flourish and develop in was the vast undertaking faced. Her holistic view of the sector wherein “She saw crafts not in isolation, but as part of the rich fabric of our life involving all the creative expressions of a people” 5, was the grounding of the vision. The Ramon Magasay Award citation which she received in 1996 stated “Among the architects of modern India few have been so broadly effective as Kamladevi Chattopadhyay… in an era when great traditional crafts and artistry often are submerged by mass production of standardized products, Kamladevi has led in mobilizing for new generations these ancient skills.” 6

The creation of support systems and frameworks such as the Regional Design Centers, the infrastructure she put into place and the organizations she seeded included the “Indian Cooperative Union (ICU), which she founded in 1948 providing tools, loans and directions in a new way of living.” 7 The ICU managed the then iconic handicrafts and handloom store – the Central Cottage Industries Emporium (CCIE), where “Teji Vir Singh and Mrs. Prem Bery with their experience of Marketing of Refugee Handicrafts and with the guidance of Kitty Shiva Rao and Mrs. B.K. Nehru and the support of dynamic and talented Sina Kaul were responsible for building it up. …the best of handicrafts, with its buyers such as Gulshan Nanda8, Nakara sisters and many others travelling the length and breadth of the country, searching for crafts and craftsmen…”9

The furthering of the craft movement, the process of revival and empowerment continued through her lifetime. She brought new ways at looking at the crafts, challenged hierarchies and reached out to craftspeople. Herself a prolific writer and spokesperson she initiated research and documentation on the crafts and its practitioners. Her interest and her ability to galvanize others led to the seeding of organizations across the continuum of art, culture and heritage. In the field of craft, she served as Vice President of the World Crafts Council, an endeavor that she initiated in 1964. The backing and encouragement she provided to many furthered the cause – from Rukmini Devi Arundale whose efforts in the area of natural dyes and weaving at Kalakshetra have continued to be carried forward, to the setting up of the Crafts Council of India(CCI), which now has chapters across several States and is largely women led and women run10. The Paramparik Karigar Trust, established in Mumbai in 1996, when master craftspeople from across India met with her and Roshan Kalapesi to create the first registered body of craftspeople responsible for their own future. “It is in this context that Paramparik Karigar is so important. Its active core’ with full decision-making rights’ is the-now around 1000 strong-crafts community.” 11

These were just some of Kamladevi’s many activities and achievements in shaping, empowering and revival.

In parallel in the 1950,s Pupul Jayakar, was appointed as Chairperson of the All India Handloom Board by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, with a short break in between, her role in influencing culture and craft policy continued under the Prime Ministership of both Shmt. Indira Gandhi and Shri Rajiv Gandhi.

The building of the Weavers Service Centers, the marketing frameworks and institutions supportive of the sector, the formation of the Handloom and Handicraft Export Promotion Corporation (HHEC) 12 and other initiatives was a response to the shifting economic and social situation, a directional change that recognized the need for repositioning Indian handmade products for the world. The Sona shop in New York, the emphasis on design and design education, the introduction of internationally known designers, including Pierre Cardin to Indian culture, crafts and textiles, the Festivals of India all worked towards a global repositioning of Indian crafts and textiles as valued, timeless, cultural artifacts.

She initiated the idea of a national school of design in 1955 when she met Charles Eames in the United States. Subsequently Eames was invited by the government to outline a proposal. “He came to explore the actuality of India before preparing his blueprint. He and his wife Ray travelled through India… observing the landscape, the people ….the rural capacity for attention, their skills and the intensity of their minds. He prepared out of this raw material his blueprint, an integral view of the Indian scene…. his report was placed before Manubhai Shah, the then Minister of Commerce and Industry; … also present, was Gautam Sarabhai. …. The Minister was confused but trusted Sarabhai’s acute business sense and was aware of my down-to-earth approach to development. Finally, the report was accepted and the National Institute of Design (NID) came into being and was built in Ahmedabad…”13” Similarly, the creation of national level institutes of fashion and accessory design were mooted and NIFT came into being in 198614. These institutions and the many others they spawned changed forever the design landscape in India. The many design graduates and increasing emphasis on design in the country are a product of this foresight.

The establishment of INTACH was similar, “While in England I had met the senior representatives of the National Trust in London and discussed the possibilities of establishing an all-India society concerned with heritage and its preservation. … there was no major all-India body to concern itself with identifying, listing and conserving manmade and natural heritage. Indira was enthused with the suggestion. In spite of all manner of obstacles, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was registered in early 1984 with Indira Gandhi as its patron, Rajiv its first Chairman.” 15

Her interests in the rural arts and crafts, her ability to see potential and translate it into action, sparked change in many areas of craft. One such incident was recounted by L.K. Jha,“… another field of high achievement… is the popularization of Madhubani paintings…. when in the mid 60’s, during the famine which threatened Bihar, she went there to discover ways in which new incomes could be generated for those whose crops had failed, with the result that they neither had the food which they used to grow for themselves nor the income to buy it from others. The problem was that since Madhubani paintings were done on walls, there was no way they could be transported or sold….Pupul Jayakar was the first person to persuade them to do their paintings on paper….. Soon, their quality caught the fancy of those with a discerning eye. …. Madhubani paintings are in many museums as well as homes of the art lovers all over the world – thanks more to Pupul Jayakar than to anyone else.” 16

In a period before ethnic became chic, Pupul Jayakar connected the crafts to their cultural underpinnings. As Chairman of CCIE she initiated policies that widened their reach. As Chairperson of HHEC she introduced Indian crafts to the global market. It was however, as Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Festivals of India, held in Britain, USA, Japan and France that her creative and organizational activities were brought to the fore. The Festivals were a major series of events, a unique cooperative effort between the Government of India and the host country, designed to bring to the attention of the world greater understanding of the complex life and “the vibrant manifestations of Indian culture…”17In the wide-ranging presentations on art, culture, performance, scientific achievements were included ‘Vasna’, a portrait of a contemporary village and The Living Arts exhibition with demonstrations of crafts skills. Several years in its making, the Master Weavers exhibition, a part of the Festival ‘projected the great contemporary textile arts of the country and focused on the continuity of tradition.” 18 The exhibition Aditi, inspired by the rural and ritual arts, 19 centered on the growing-up of the child – from womb to adulthood.

While received with glowing tributes, “…and as Mrs. (Indira) Gandhi said it had ‘succeeded beyond our wildest hopes’. It did not serve just as a ‘show window’ for India but had actively created interest in India. 20” This shift in priorities and strategies led to trenchant disapproval with traditionalists, Mrs Jayakar countered these by saying, ‘There may be much criticism today but I am confident that the events as they unfold will bring in the bouquets. We hope these festivals will reveal the great strengths of a young nation with an ancient culture and heritage” 21

The early foundational figures had worked in synch with a farsighted political class and bureaucracy, who backed their initiatives. From Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, there was a recognition that the arts and crafts were not only an invaluable cultural asset, but equally an economic force22.

From the late 1980’s onwards, Government institutions became less responsive to the needs of craftspeople. Political will now shifted gear, with prioritization and an almost exclusive focus on the urban, the industrial and digital, the crafts and craftspeople now relegated to the backwaters. Their neglect reflected in the phase used by politicians and policy makers to describe the sector as a “sunset industry,” and viewed through the lens of sops and subsidy, rather than as a muscular economic activity contributing to GDP. This mindset made the task of those who worked in the Sector much harder.

The major question that arose was of how to equip and empower craftspeople for the changing times.

While there was a burgeoning middle class market that demanded goods that fit into their lifestyle, there was a growing schism between rural and urban India. The opening up of the economy, globalization, loss of traditional markets, increased competition from mass marketers, declining incomes, were just some of the many challenges being faced up to. Craftspeople too were looking for change aware that economic empowerment, development, and other transformations occurring in modern India were not trickling down to them.

Priorities and strategies needed to change to suit this rapidly altering scenario.

It was in this context that a new generation of activists’ matured, their direction, both a response and a reaction to the shifts in circumstances confronting the craftspeople. Mandated to empower and improve the economic and social status of craftspeople, pan-India and regional non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) heralded in a new wave of women, from dissimilar backgrounds, who drawn to the sector had a pulse for its needs and changing priorities. Working to create sustainable economic models and equally significantly going beyond economics to fulfill social development agendas these NGO’s focused on a wide range of actions. Measures included seeking sustainable employment, collectivization, generating income, economic self-sufficiency and social equity… all human development aspirations.

To review the impressive line-up could risk producing a mere laundry list of achievers, but it needs to be done. Each name could be accompanied by a roll call of achievements, given the exigencies of space, the mention here is however pithy and brief.

Organizations with wide mandates such as SEWA in Ahmedabad, 23 its trade union of self-employed poor women workers, led by Ella Bhatt, Rehanana Jhabvala, Mirai Chatterjee. The struggles it undertook strengthened women to organize for social change, making it equally “both an organization and a movement” 24. Its emphasis on creating self-reliance and employment, included those engaged in craft activity, led by Reema Nanavati and Lalitha Krishnaswami.

In 1972 Bunker Roy setup the Social Work and Research Centre (SWRC), popularly known as the ‘Barefoot College’ in Tillonia, Rajasthan, and was joined in 1974 by his wife Aruna Roy, 25 working to improve the lives of the lives of the rural poor by addressing basic needs for water, electricity, housing, health, education. The Hatheli Sansthan wing works with artisans across Rajasthan, and Saharanpur in UP.

NGO’s interknitted the concerns of the sector, creating self sufficiency’s, improving the economic status of craftspeople and promoting the survival of traditional craftsmanship. Developing a momentum as well as foci of its own – maturing and transforming along the way to resolve the problems of their time.
Through successful experimentation introducing crafts to urban India, demonstrating that skills were alive and the products of craftsmanship in demand for a new, rapidly evolving middleclass.

Dastkar headed by Laila Tyabji set up in 1981 with its groundbreaking exhibitions where craftspeople could interact with their customers, learning new skills and developing markets. Their programs providing support whether in design or in accessing credit and raw material, from training in entrepreneurship to providing technical assistance. With year-on-year bazaars held across India, craftspeople developed direct links to new markets, leading to improved incomes, social equity and empowerment.

Concerns echoed at Dastkari Haat Samiti, chaired by Jaya Jaitley, 26 working closely with craftspeople from across India, expanding their markets, developing cutting edge design, giving strength and support in each area of required. Jaitley’s innovative and breakout idea of a permanent craft bazaar, the Dilli Haat, conceptualized, blue-printed and pushed through with government with great perseverance by her. This landmark achievement has been hugely successful and duplicated across India and indeed in other countries.

NGO’s working closely with the concerns of the sector at large, adapting programs to needs, reinforcing efforts while constantly pushing the boundaries to growth, empowerment and change. Weaving together a network of mutual interests and collaborations they attempted to make an impact and bring change for those whom they were serving. From Anita Reddy working with the Kalamkari craftspeople in Sri Kalahasti;
Sally Holkar’s work with the weavers in Maheshwar;28 Gita Ram and Neelam Chibber’s developmental and marketing initiatives with natural fiber craftspeople in South India;
29 Uzramma’s, path breaking work with the cotton handloom and Malkha weavers in Andhra,
Mukti Dutta in Panchchuli and, Rashmi Bharathi in Uttrakhand; 31 the work of the Craft Revival Trust in creating the largest online encyclopedia on the arts, crafts and textiles and its practitioners; Ujwala Jodha of Dastkar Ranthambore are only some of the many examples that abound in the sector.

Working to preserve traditions, creating employment while ensuring income and livelihoods for its members, Chandraben Shroff at Shrujan, Meera Goradia at Khamir, Neena Raaste at KMVS and Judy Frater at Kala Raksha work in Kutch. While in West Bengal, the Late Dr Phulrenu Guha of Karma Kutir;
worked to rehabilitate refugees from erstwhile Bangladesh, providing training in skills and reviving handicrafts; Ruby Pal Choudhuri at the Crafts Council; Sarba Shanti Ayog – SASHA, set up by the Late Subhashini Kohli33 and its stewardship by Roopa Mehta, working now with more than 100 crafts groups. Ananya Bhattacharya at Banglanatak@com; Sumita at Rangasutra; Adithi established by the Late Vijii Srinivasan,
operating across Bihar and Jharkhand. The M Rm Rm Cultural Foundation set up by Visalakshi Ramaswamy in Chettinad; the Late Lalitha Prasad of Crafts Council of Andhra; SEWA Lucknow formed with the agenda of doing away with the middleman under the able guidance of Runa Banerjee, providing viable and sustainable livelihood opportunities to Chikan embroiderers…the list goes on.

Diverse, spread out, kaleidoscopic in character responding to the beat of development and opportunity craftspeople35 across clusters, quickened to change. Their response echoed across the country. From the first women craftspeople to step out of the confines of home whether it was women chikan embroiderers from Lucknow, Ahir and Rabari women from Kutch or Banjara’s from Sandur, these remarkable pioneers broke the mould, setting examples for others to follow. Madhubani artists from Mithila, Gond women from Jharkhand, women weavers from the North-East took the step, their standing-up to be counted having a multiplier effect on others in their community. Their personal growth linked to social change and economic progress. These craftswomen seized the opportunity to enter the economic sphere, asserted their rights and developed a voice within the social and contractual sphere of their lives.
In interviews their reactions covered a range of affirmative responses from “ghore bosa kaaj”,
to “..this is a boon to my craft” 38 their engagements and interactions creating social and economic ripple effect on their communities.

Alongside the NGO movement was the parallel growth of commercial and entrepreneurial activity that brought to markets across India products of traditional craftsmanship. Improving livelihoods, opening out markets, introducing design adapted for the ‘new’ consumer, and critically for the craftsperson, sustaining and increasing demand for their products. The most well known of these remains FabIndia;
39 Anokhi, a venture of John and Faith Singh in Jaipur; Suraiya Hassan in Hyderabad who successfully combined revival with commerce – both in ikat and with the Himroo weaving skills; Bandhej by Archana Shah in Gujarat; Sunny and Meeta in Kala Dera and other entrepreneurs across India who clearly demonstrated that it was possible to run successful craft-based businesses with a social agenda. These commercial interdependencies between entrepreneurs and craftspeople worked in the best interest of both, reviving techniques, empowering craftspeople , introducing and innovating with new designs and opening fresh markets so successfully that a steady demand for crafts skills is sustained from year after year.

Designers working with the crafts served as a bridge, mediating between craftspeople and their evolving urban markets. Shona Ray, textile designer ‘introduced craft into people’s interiors’ to Prabhaben Shah and Malti Jhaveri, sisters, who worked in hand-block prints in the 50’s and 60’s. Iola Basu, with her ‘understanding of product design as a process and marketing, well before others’.
40 Sina Kaul, Ratna Fabri whose design careers started at CCIE to Bina Das who worked with the potters in West Bengal.41 This connection and interaction have strengthened and multiplied four-fold over the decades, with designers working with craftspeople across the country and in varied traditions.

In museums, education and writings on crafts and their cultural contexts women continued to play a significant part.

The Calico Museum of Textile, set up in 1949 in Ahmadabad is among the foremost textile museums in the world. Inspired by Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy and founded in 1949 by Shri Gautam Sarabhai and his sister Gira Sarabhai. Guided over the last several decades by Gira Sarbhai, its exceptional collection educates the curious and the scholar, besides being an invaluable reference source for practitioners. Its publication program encompassing both the historical, scientific and technical aspects of craftsmanship has pushed the boundaries of scholarship in the subject.

Located in Paris, the Association for the Study and Documentation of Asian Textiles (AEDTA) established 1979, based around the textile collection of Krishna Reboud, its founder “is a centre which was created to foster the study and research in Asian textile”.

Praful Shah and Shilpa Shah’s, Tapi Collection of Textiles in Surat, grew from “Shilpa’s eager-eyed forays into our small town bazaars43,” began as a resource centre for design. To be “what must be one of the finest private textile collections in India today”
This formidable collection comprises textiles covering a wide range of techniques, materials and patterning, dating from the 14th century onwards. The Tapi Collection also supports an ambitious research and publication program.

Dakshina Chitra, the museum of living traditions, set enroute from Chennai to Mammallapuram, founded by Deborah Thiagarajan in 1996. It promotes, revives and preserves the arts, crafts and traditions of South India. This living heritage centre, has given great impetus to crafts and craftspeople. Its activities include demonstrations of craftsmanship, seminars, workshops and other participatory activities for the its many visitors, creating an awareness of everyday culture and the living practices of arts and crafts.

The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing in Jaipur, an initiative of, Rachel Bracken-Singh and her husband Pritam Singh is dedicated to the collection, preservation and interpretation of block printed cloth, strengthening the appreciation for this living heritage.

Led by Dr Stella Kramrisch, the prolific writing of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay on crafts influenced many who came after her. Pupul Jaykar’s contributions to Marg, Journal of Indian Textile History and to other publications. Dr Lotika Vardhrajan’s scholarship and research on traditional knowledge systems, lead to her publications in the fields of textiles, tribal cultures and maritime ventures. Jasleen Dhamija, who worked with the AIHB in the 50’s and subsequently internationally, has travelled, researched and written extensively on textiles and costumes. Rta Chisti’s work in the area of handloom, Janet Rizvi, and the many others, all pioneers, who led the way in developing an Indian idiom in researching, documenting and publishing.

In Bengal Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s innovative and far-sighted initiatives vitalized and reformed education through the setting up of the Vishva Bharati at Shantiniketan. ‘In every nation, education is intimately associated with the life of the people. For us, modern education is relevant only to turning out clerks, lawyers, doctors, magistrates and policemen…. This education has not reached the farmer, the oil grinder, nor the potter. No other educated society has been struck with such disaster…. If ever a truly Indian university is established it must from the very beginning implement India’s own knowledge of economics, agriculture, health, medicine and of all other everyday science from the surrounding villages. Then alone can the school or university become the centre of the country’s way of living. This school must practise agriculture, dairying and weaving using the best modern methods…. I have proposed to call this school Visva Bharati.’
In 1919, Kala Bhawana as part of Vishva Bharti was established in Shanti Niketan. Under the guidance of Tagore’s daughter-in-law Pratima Devi, the French artist Madam Andree Karpelees and Smt Sukumar Devi,
crafts were introduced into the curriculum47 resulting in the revitalization of various traditional crafts.

In the area of educational reform and change, an extremely significant transformation occurred in October 2005. Judy Frater founded the first institution of design for traditional artisans – Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya (KRV) in Kutch. Laila Tyabji expressed very eloquently what many felt “20 years ago, a Mithila craftswoman, Shiva Kashyap, bewailed that “We may be wage earners but we are still walking on someone else’s feet. Because we lack the tools of education and language we are still dependent.” It is a cry that many otherwise skilled traditional craftspeople have echoed. So Kala Raksha Vidyalaya is truly an answer to a dream… of hundreds of craftspeople. Hopefully it will be a module for many other similar local design schools in craft pockets all over the country.”
Developing learning material, a modular curriculum that allows for flexibility and a pedagogy focused on acquiring knowledge and skills that are relevant to craftspeople, the KRV is now in its seventh successful year. Sally Holkar’s small, yet significant start of the Handloom Weaving School in Maheshwar, teaching sustainable dyeing practices, weaving techniques, use of alternate yarns, design, and a curriculum that is expected to grow and mature with its students.

The change makers were not only the women who were directly working in the sector with craftspeople but also additionally those who shaped and influenced our professional values. Women in public life – politicians, artists, bureaucrats, doctors, lawyers, educationists and others, exuding authority, dressed in traditional attire, leading modern lives. The focus of attention in the 1980’s being Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. At meetings of the Commonwealth Heads of Government or with other World leaders, whether in India or abroad, Mrs. Gandhi made a powerful statement. Images relayed across India on cinema newsreels, Doordarshan and in the press, were of an Indian woman holding her own – dressed in handloom, conveying authority. A pan-Indian look, both distinct, original and power dressing at its best. “She chose her clothes to reflect the traditions of the different regions of the country. Thus she not only made a fashion statement but also gave an impetus to the development of the khadi and handloom sectors in India.”
49 A powerful example continued by her daughter-in-law, the President of UPA, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, and other political leaders.

The highly influential world of cinema also made its contribution with the diva Rekha, magnificently draped in sumptuous, glamorous Kanjeevaram silks and traditional handcrafted jewellery. Shabana Azmi, Aparna Sen, the mega stars of South Indian cinema and others, seen on screen and off in handloom cottons and silks, in settings that showed the best of Indian crafts.

A view of the sector, of its empowerment, development and change would be unsatisfactory, deficient and incomplete without paying tribute to the many who worked and continue to do so in the sector. The fundamental debt owed to foundational figures like the Late Shri L C Jain50 and John Bissel51 cannot be forgotten. The contribution of Ashoke Chatterjee,
Martand Singh, 53 Rajeev Sethi, 54 Brij Bhasin55, Bunker Roy and others, whose immense contribution illumined the path.

At the policy level, meetings and committees in the last decade have done little to resolve the issues of the sector. Its fractured polity divided into the KVIC, handlooms and handicrafts. The craftspeople themselves, dealt with by innumerable Ministries, the threads of interventions and schemes not interlocking to produce on the ground deliverables. Yet under the stewardship of Dr Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission, thought and debate along with concrete action has since been initiated to bring about much needed relook at the sector as a whole.

While much has been realized since Independence, not enough has been done to achieve the watermark level for real empowerment, inclusion and economic and social equity. As Ashoke Chatterjee vividly puts it “We all took for granted that this Indian advantage needed no special attention for its sustenance – all part of the landscape like the Himalayas and Ganga, ‘until mental climate change’ and other pollutants brought us the current pass” 56

Issues of the paradox of value continue to confront craftspeople – while the products of craftsmanship are highly valued, craftspeople themselves the holders of knowledge are relegated to obscurity and anonymity. Additionally while much has been done, there are still large numbers who remain out of the ambit of change and development57. Access to markets, credit, schemes and programs, and social security remains elusive for many.

The urgent need to codify the traditional knowledge systems of the crafts, and furthermore to research and contextualize the products of craftsmanship is still in its nascent stage. While the study of the intersection of craft techniques and technology is an imperative for us to build on for the future.

Additionally to bring craftspeople, on equal footing, into the educational system as teachers and trainers, continue to defy us. The issue of intellectual property and protection of community knowledge looms large. Faking and copying of traditional crafts products remains rife. There is need in addition, to revisit the ethics of engagement with craftspeople58 bringing in the larger issues of rights. The questions of certification of skills, the need to collectivize to build strength are also on the agenda. Development initiatives need to reach out to larger numbers; to deliver to those who need it most, for all this to be achieved continuous sustained and determined effort by many more is needed59.

End Notes
  1. The term craft has been used in this essay in a generic manner to include both traditional handicrafts and handlooms.
  2. The term craftsperson/craftspeople has been used in this essay to refer to the holders of traditional knowledge and includes weavers (including pre and post loom) and traditional craft practitioners (pre and post production)
  3. She served as Chairman till 1967
  4. Kamladevi Chattopadhyay – Jasleen Dhamija. National Book Trusr;2007 pp 73
  5. Kamladevi Chattopadhyay – Jasleen Dhamija. National Book Trusr;2007 pp 69
  6. Citation – Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership 31 August 1966,
  7. Magasay citation
  8. Gulshan Nanda, served with CCIE since 1952, and returned after retirement as Chairperson from 2005 to 2010.
  9. Jasleen Dhamija, pp78
  10. With the honorable exception of Ashoke Chatterjjee, who was President of CC! for over a decade and continues as Advisor
  11. Hindu, March 24,2002
  12. Chairman from 1968 to 1977
  13. Indira Gandhi: A Biography – Pupul Jayakar; pp. 150 – 151, Penguin. 1995
  14. There are now 15 NIFT’s located at different centers across India
  15. Pp437 Pupul Jayakar – Indira
  16. Dimensions of Indian Art: Pupul Jayakar Seventy Ed Lokesh Chandra, Jyotindra Jain; Agam Kala Prakashan; Delhi. 1986 Page: XXViii
  17. Continuity and Change. Introduction – Saryu Doshi,, Marg xxxv No.4
  18. Pupul Jayakar – Continuity and Change. Images and Tradition. Marg, Vol. xxxvi No 1,pp 5. NB. Martand Singh was exhibition director and curator.
  19. – Rajeev Sethi was Project Director and Curator
  20. Saryu Doshi. Introduction. Marg
  21. Ppxvii’ The tapestry of her life’ – Malvika Singh; Dimensions of India Art: Pupul Jayakar Seventy, Vol I, Ed. Lokesh Chandra, Jyotindra Jain, Agam Kala Prakashan, 1986
  22. Second largest sector of employment in India after agriculture
  23. Registered in 1972,
  24. http/
  25. She now heads the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathana
  26. Established in 1985
  27. Dwarka
  28. Womens Weaves
  29. Industree Foundation
  30. Dastkar Andhra and Malkha Marketing Trust
  31. Avani
  32. 1972
  33. 1978
  34. 1988
  35. Highlights: Third National Handloom Census of Weavers and Allied workers. 2010. NCAER. Pp xxii. Of the over 38.46 lakh handloom workers in India, 77% are women. A similar percentage that can probably be expected from the results of the handicraft census that has been conducted, though the figures have not been released yet
  36. Read also From Stones to Stitches – A life transformed, dec 1997, Laila Tyabjee; also read Embroidering Futures – Repurposing the Kantha Ed Ritu Sethi, 2012. IFA publication
  37. Embroidering Futures: Repurposing the Kantha. Ed Ritu SethiPp 73. . IFA publication. 2012
  38. Vishnu Kumar Jangid, Tarkashi craftsman. Designers Meet Artisans: A practical guide. Craft Revival Trust. Pp 64
  39. Founded by the charismatic John Bissel
  40. In conversation with Ashoke Chatterjee
  41. Information from Gulshan Nanda
  42. pp viii Marg – In quest of theme and skills – Asian Textiles – Marg Publication 1989.
  43. Collectors note – Praful Shah in Trade, Temple and Court: Indian Textiles from the Tapi Collection Ruth Barnes, Steven Cohen, Rosemary Crill, pp6, India Book House, 2002.
  44. Introduction – Trade, Temple and Court: Indian Textiles from the Tapi Collection Ruth Barnes, Steven Cohen, Rosemary Crill, pp8, India Book House, 2002.
  45. Rabindranath Tagore, Addresses by Tagore, p. 9–10, Santiniketan, Visva Bharati, 1963. English translation – M. Das Gupta, Santiniketan and Sri Niketan, Calcutta, Visva Bharati, 1983.
  46. Subramanya KG, The craft movement in Shantniketan in Arts of Bengal and Eastern India. Published by Crafts Council of West Bengal. 1982:37-41
  47. T he pedagogy adopted by its first director, the artist Asit Kumar Haldar was continued over the decades through the commitment and wisdom of Nandlal Bose, Benodebehari Mukhopadhyay and others.
  48. Dream Come True: Being a Jury Member at the first graduation of the Kalaraksha Design School .Laila Tyabji.
  49. Indiraji Through My Eyes by Usha Bhagat; penguin Viking press, 2005; Pp 150
  50. Gandhian, economist, social activist and builder of the framework for handicrafts
  51. Founder FabIndia
  52. Former Executive Director NID, Former President Crafts Council of India
  53. Founder Member INTACH, author, textile revivalist
  54. Founder -Chairman, Asian Heritage Foundation
  55. Chairperson Barsana
  56. Correspondence with Ritu Sethi. 5January, 2013
  57. Arjun Sengupta Report on the Unorganised Sector
  58. Co-creating: Revisiting the ethics of engagement between designers and craftspeople. Moe Chiba and Ritu Sethi; July 2012

Thanks to Ashoke Chatterjee for reading the draft, and giving valuable suggestions.

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Needs to be written.