Handicrafts – Contemplation of Reality
“A work of art is a world in itself reflecting the senses and emotions of the artist’s world.” – Hand Hofmann
The handicraft sector is the second-largest industry that provides employment and concurrently livelihood opportunities in rural India, after agriculture. It is also the largest decentralized and unorganised sector in the world. India is home to various forms of handicrafts, such as pottery, jute works, terracotta work which vary from state to state. However, there is a tremendous decrease in the consumption of handicrafts in comparison to modern western products.
An article written by Mahatma Gandhi in ‘Young India’, expressed his distress on the lack of attention to the profession and art of handicrafts and other indigenous industries. The process of globalization has helped countries open their doors to the world. As a result of it, there is easy access to foreign fashion brands and traditions, but sidelined the traditional arts of the locale.
The machine-made produce is cheaper than the handicrafts and serves as a factor contributing to the doom of the culture of handicrafts. The reason for the high price of handicraft is the cost of raw materials and production.
To add on to it, the availability of new consumer goods that are mass-produced is easily available in the markets. This has led to a shift in demand from handicrafts to these goods. Thus, over the years, with the coming of technology and fast lives, handicrafts have taken a backseat, and conservation of indigenous arts is a need of the hour.
The promotion of the handicraft industry can benefit the art itself as well as the unemployability issue the country is facing. If implemented in the right way, the economy of the country would benefit from handicrafts. This means that we need to work at involving the youth and younger generations as it will help in creating awareness regarding handicrafts, and its journey of creation.
But together, we can make a difference and the change is occurring. There are government bodies, NGOs, who are working towards helping revive the lost tradition. There is an increasing tendency among designers to use indigenous sources to decorate apartments. The handwoven fabrics are excellent pieces to decorate parts of interiors. They are used as cushion covers, table runners, and wall art.
Bamboo art is also regaining importance as lamps made out of bamboo. Bamboo pots are also finding a place in the interior design of homes. This serves as a way of preserving the craft. There is now a change in trends, NGOs have been working actively to help these handicrafts and traditional art forms gain more visibility and recognition. The popular fashion today is also influenced with traditional art, which is a good sign. There are several social media influencers who have also helped spread such trends.
Under the Corporate Social Responsibility Act, 2013 there are provisions made to promote traditional arts and handicrafts and support the revival of traditional arts in India. Companies can provide support by conducting workshops for customers, employees, and students.
There are several government schemes over the years that have been brought about to help revive the handicraft sector. This includes the Mega Cluster Scheme, which aims to scale up infrastructural and production chains at handicraft centres. This also attempts to make the handicraft centres more organised and at par with modernisation and other such developments. The main objective is to generate employment as well as improve the standard of living of existing artisans. This will be done through the Handicrafts Mega Cluster Mission (HMCM).
The Government is also involved in providing platforms for artisans, financial assistance, awareness and demonstration programmes. These activities and provisions help give the artisans global recognition.
The Government has also introduced ‘Handloom Mark’, a scheme which helps in terms of authenticating handwoven material. This scheme also provides an identity for Indian weavers and Indian material. The government also actively organizes expos, Melas, and Haats.
The Handicrafts of India seem to have reached a point where they need protection and nurturing, as they run the risk of becoming extinct, and merely memories of the past. Though there are strong initiatives being taken up by the government to protect these art forms, stronger steps towards protecting these handicrafts are necessary at an individual level, with everybody contributing to the larger cause.
The art, once created can easily be preserved, but the real challenge is protecting and preserving the skill required to create such beautiful forms of art. The skill set and knowledge required to be able to create such art is extremely important and heavily underrated. We ought to find sustainable ways to spread such knowledge and keep it alive and breathing for generations to come. Secondary factors such as not being able to generate a sizable profit from these goods should be set aside while looking at the larger goal of preserving the knowledge, skills and the artform itself. The profitability of such handicrafts can always be turned around if the collective mindset is directed towards promoting such causes. We ought to protect the essence of our culture which is stitched into our handicrafts.