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Crafts in the Policy Space

Craft, Handloom, Art, Economics, Employment/ Livelihood, Op-Ed, Policy

Crafts in the Policy Space: Numbers Count - Laying the Base

Bhasin, Anuradha

As the first article of the year, this was to have been a positive one – focusing on headway that had been made by the government in tackling some of the problems faced by craftspeople. Progress could be measured either by measuring outcomes – in this case, the living standards of the target populations - or by looking at the inputs - government programs aimed at improving the lot of craftspeople.

In both cases I drew a blank. Improvements or changes in the living standards of crafts people and artisans cannot be commented on for the simple reason that there are no current data relating to this group – so no comparisons can be made. Nothing can be presented to balance the dismaying news about the distress faced by some of the craftspeople who find they can no longer support their families in the face of competition. There are scattered success stories of increasing individual’s or some SHGs’ (Self Help Groups) access to markets, or achieving self-sufficiency. But, as a whole, there is no way we can tell if income or employment levels have increased among craftspeople – even as the reduction in poverty levels in the country over the past decade have meticulously been measured, debated over and well documented. The most recent enumeration of ‘handicraft artisans’ was carried out in 1995-96 by the NCAER (National Council for Applied Economics Research), but by its own admission this was limited to the ‘known craft concentration pockets’ in the country and excluded several crafts such ...

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