India has a long and unique history of art, with several indigenous crafts and practices passed down across generations of artisan communities. It has nearly 3,000 unique arts and crafts, many of which are as old as the Indian civilization itself, and are an embodiment of India’s intellectual and aesthetic properties. They have the potential to be revived quite quickly, leveraging and adapting existing skills to suit both traditional and modern markets.
Why Should We Support Our Artisans?
Artisans are the backbone of India’s non-farm rural economy, engaged in craft production to earn a livelihood. However, propelled by loss of markets, declining skills, and difficulty catering to new markets, the number of Indian artisans has been rapidly decreasing. Crafting a livelihood calls for re-investment in India’s artisans to safeguard history, culture, and an important source of livelihood.
While historically crafts received royal and aristocratic patronage, they have slowly lost relevance as India industrialized. Over the past 30 years, the number of Indian artisans has decreased by 30 percent and the vast majority of artisans operate in informal work settings.
Official estimates suggest that India is home to seven million artisans most of whom are in rural and semi-urban areas, however, data from unofficial sources indicate that the number is as high as 200 million.
Investing in the crafts sector offers tremendous opportunities to improve the economic, environmental, and social conditions of rural communities, by tapping into the global market, the environmental benefit of low polluting industries, and the economic and social empowerment of many rural households.
'Vocal for Local': Stand Up for Craftspeople
To keep the traditional craft alive, it is important for artisans to understand how trade fairs work and participate in the same with an all-around understanding of the profit and loss and pros and cons involved in the global market.
The ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ is an initiative started by the government under the leadership of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi that aims at empowering local Indian brands to manufacture locally rather than importing from other countries. It also encourages citizens to become 'vocal for local' and enables the resurgence of the Indian economy.
Under Atmanirbhar Bharat with its focus on vocal for local and products to be made in India and their promotion, the Ministry of Textiles has launched an initiative to set up an e-commerce platform for artisans. The Ministry has tied up with India Post to leverage 4,00,000 Common Service Centres (CSCs), which have been primarily set up to offer government e-services in areas with limited availability of internet and computers, to enable artisan to go online with their products and become competitive.
Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Art
We buy what we mostly see on the internet. The reason why local artisans are unable to grow revenue-wise is their low or no online visibility. However, this only means that we should go the extra mile to locate them, buy from them, and eventually help them build better infrastructure – digitally and otherwise. As their profits increase, they will be in a better position to upskill digitally. We can also help them outside the monetary perspective by teaching them the tech. Setting a digital space for their business, or simply contributing to organizations that are supporting the local artisans could help the situation massively.
B2B Online Marketplace Strengthens ‘Vocal for Local’ Initiative
In this initiative to be #VocalForLocal, B2B online marketplace is strengthening the ‘Vocal for Local’ agenda by providing a reliable platform to local sellers and buyers for identifying trustworthy business partners. The online marketplace has indeed scaled up the initiative by going global for the local Indian sellers.
Many entrepreneurs see potential in this sector and are committed to working with skilled groups and artisans, of the clusters that we work in, especially in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Rajasthan – hinterlands of India’s wooden crafts.
Artisans’ Atmanirbharta Is In Our Hands
We buy what we mostly see on the internet. The reason why local artisans are unable to grow revenue-wise is their low or no online visibility. However, this only means that we should go the extra mile to locate them, buy from them, and eventually help them build better infrastructure – digitally and otherwise. As their profits increase, they will be in a better position to upskill digitally.
Businesses help rural artisans and craftsmen by providing employment opportunities, offering facilities to sell their products in newer markets, and enhancing their skills through skill development programs.