Indian handicrafts are the epitome of the rich heritage and diversified culture of our nation. With beautifully articulated designs, the Indian artisans bring forth a legacy of their land, culture, myth and carve their respective art into forms that can be forwarded to future generations.
Today, the Indian handicraft industry has emerged as an essential economic agent revolutionizing the lives of millions of people across the country. The handicraft and traditional handloom industries are counted among the crucial sectors which generate profitable economic activities in rural areas. Moreover, India’s handicraft exports will cross the Rs 24,000 crore mark by FY 2022-23.
Factors Contributing to the Growth of Handicraft Industry
The handicraft industry has proven to be the backbone of India’s rural economy for decades. It provides skillful employment to a vast segment of craft persons present in rural and semi-urban areas. Handicrafts also generate substantial foreign exchange for the nation while preserving its cultural heritage.
Supported tenaciously by promotional and developmental activities of the government, the handicraft sector has remarkably grown over the years. According to the Ministry of Textiles, the handicraft industry has shown a steady growth rate of 20 percent every year. The sector is expected to employ nearly 68.86 lakh artisans at present.
The following factors are playing an integral role in revamping the face of the Indian handicraft industry and shall help it build a global presence in the coming times:
Government Schemes - The central government is actively working towards developing the industry to maximize its potential. The introduction of several schemes and initiatives is helping our craftsmen to overcome the challenges they face. The Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana collaborates with Dastkar Shashktikaran Yojana to support artisans with their infrastructure, technology, and human resource development needs. It was launched for mobilizing artisans into self-help groups and societies to promote bulk production and economies in the procurement of raw materials.
The Mega Cluster Scheme aims to facilitate employment generation and improve the standard of living of our artisans through a cluster-based approach in scaling infrastructure at handicraft centers, especially in remote regions.
Marketing Support and Services Scheme offers interventions for domestic marketing events to artisans as financial assistance to participate in trade fairs across the country and abroad. The Research and Development Scheme was initiated to collect feedback on economic, aesthetic, social, and promotional facets of crafts and artisans in the sector to support the implementation of other welfare schemes.
Rise of Dedicated Trade Platforms - Till a few years back, India lacked a consolidated platform to showcase the Indian handicraft to the global audience. This scenario is fast changing. Few platforms like Craftezy, have emerged that lend the much-needed support to Indian artisans in finding visibility in domestic and global markets. These global handicraft trade platforms come with a free supplier induction process and aim at giving it an organized image in the global market. These fully-managed B2B marketplaces connect Indian manufacturers and wholesalers with international buyers.
Using Technology for Inclusion - Technology that can help cross boundaries has proven to be a boon for the handicraft industry. Acquisition of the global customer is no longer a distant possibility if one has a product to offer. E-commerce has opened doors to seamless access to consumer goods, and this has enabled inclusive growth as all manufacturers in any part of the globe can showcase their products through these online platforms. Even social media platforms are helping immensely with marketing Indian handicrafts globally.
Exports vs Imports - The share of Indian handicrafts in the global market is still considerably low, but the overall scope of increasing exports is quite enormous as the worldwide market is expanding. Research has revealed that the world handicraft market is expected to be worth $1091.2 billion by 2024, growing at the rate of 11 percent. In the last five years, exports of Indian handicrafts have gone up by more than 40 percent, as three-fourths of handicrafts are exported. Indian handicrafts are majorly exported to more than a hundred countries, and the US alone constitutes about a third of India’s handicrafts exports.
Change in Behavior of Artisans - The challenges and issues facing Indian handicraft producers need multi-pronged solutions. But the good thing here is that there is an already existing market, and newer markets are developing. To generate enhanced income, artisans adapt to new skills and create products that meet new market demands. Thus, on account of the introduction of technology and the ease it brings to their table, there is a significant change in the behaviors of sellers and buyers of handicrafts.
Going as per the statistics of the handicraft exports, it can be said that in the present time of globalization, the handicraft sector has massive opportunities in the domestic and global markets. While the precarious condition of artisans needs careful interventions for their upliftment, the government has already been making great strides by adopting measures that will make handicraft products competitive globally and improve the conditions of our craftsmen.