In the India of today there seems to be a self congratulatory mood of confidence. Yet, on the other side of the same coin, we have the constant disquieting reminder, that doesn’t quite make headline news, of the 92%, who struggle every single day for their livelihood, this has been highlighted in Dr Arjun Senguptas seminal report on the “unorganized” sector.
Given the hugh transformational changes in the country, why is the craft sector, that forms part of the 92%, assigned to this slip stream.
This paper presents for discussion some thoughts, though which very nascent in formulation, I would like to posit, for which I would request the reader in advance for their patience and lenience.
I will be highlighting 5 issues, out of the many confronting the sector; and at the end present a tentative road map for discussion.
The first issue concerns government policy and reform
In the past few decades, policy initiatives for the craft sector have mainly tinkered with existing schemes and programs, and minor percentage increases in budgets. Within government, with a few exceptions, the commonly held bureaucratic and political view, holds sway, wherein the handloom, handicrafts, khadi and village industries sector are viewed as an anachronism, a recipient for sops and subsidies and a drain on the exchequer - a ‘sunset industry’.
The risks of this tinkering and adjusting is already apparent with the declining numbers of those engaged in the sector. Skilled craf...