"We know what we are, but know not what we may be. "
- William Shakespeare
कला सोच को मूर्ति में बदल देती है !
इतिहास की कलम से …
The art of making crafts with hands or with mechanical tools is called handicraft. In ancient India, people in tribal regions used to make the utility items with their hands. Hence India has a very ancient history of handicraft products. The handicraft industry is the second largest industry after agriculture, contributing to the Indian economy as an employment sector.
Handicraft is one of the oldest traditions of the world. Among all, Indian handicraft is one of the ancient art, having its roots from Indus Valley Civilization.
The 5000 years old handicraft industry has flourished From the Period of oldest civilization to British culture in India and left the mark of excellence with the beautiful artistic masterpieces. The ancient handicrafts were not only the symbol of excellent artistic skills, but they also catered to the religious as well as the daily needs of the people.
- The artisans from Harappan Civilization were technically skilled in making pottery, jewelry, and weaving. The craftsmanship was not limited to local people. They showed their talent to the outside world too.
- The art of sculpture introduced in the Mauryan era. Numerous sculptures showing female figure adorned with contemporary jewelry was the art of the Mauryan period. Sanchi Stupas were an example of the art of the Mauryan period.
- The Medieval period was the period of pottery, weaving, wood carving, metalworking, jewellery, etc. Artwork like temple carving, silk weaving was associated with the Vijayanagar Empire.
- Mughal and handicraft are the souls of each other. During the Mughal period, the handicraft industry found its new horizon into silk weaving, engraving on utensils, carpet weaving, etc. This was the golden era for Indian handicrafts.
Does the life of Indian artisan is also golden?
As an art lover, I always feel proud of the golden history of Indian handicrafts, but at the same time, I also think about the life of artisans, who give their whole life for the glory of Indian handicrafts. But the reality is very harsh. The condition of artisans is not as good as their handicrafts.
Let’s Discuss the Reasons Behind It
1. Under British Rule
- The condition of Indian artisans got worsen during British rule. They were forced to sell their products cheaper than the market price. The price which they were getting was much less than the hard work they were doing.
- The machine-made goods imported from Britain were giving tough competition to Indian handicraft industries. These imported goods were cheap in price, and their bulk availability in the markets forced artisans to sell their products below the market price.
- The British exported raw materials from India, like cotton. As a result, Indian artisans had to but these raw materials at higher costs. That raised the cost of products in the market.
- This overall process of exporting raw materials and importing cheap machine-made goods forced Indian artisans to abandon their ancestral work.
2. Lack of Exposure
The artisans mostly work under someone, so they don’t know the real cost of their handicraft work.
3) Lack of Skill Improvement & Technology
Most of the artisans are still using old and traditional techniques of manufacturing products. Most of the workers are illiterate, so they don’t know how to use new technologies. Lack of proper training and skill development is also responsible for their situations. Artisans from handloom industries are still using old tools and techniques.
4) Competition With The Machine-Made Products
Machine-made products are cheap as compare to handcrafted goods. In competition with the machine-made goods, artisans are forced to produce more products which are decreasing their qualities day by day.
5) Financial Instability
Most of the artisans are not financially well. To start their work or to buy raw materials, they need to rely on money lenders, who give them a loan with a higher rate of interest. In case, if artisans are not able to pay interest or principal amount, lenders take their handcrafted goods at the price much lesser than the market price.
Because of a lack of education, they are not able to understand government policies and schemes. Also, not able to do bargain with traders.
6) The Digital Age
Most of the manufacturers are selling their goods on e-commerce platforms, but most artisans are not very much educated to sell their products online. Most of the people are purchasing handicrafts from artisans and selling them online at a high price, but Poor artisans are getting nothing.
Handicrafts products require a lot of time and patience to create them, and also because they come under the luxurious category, these products are costly. But buyers try to compare them with machine-made products so not ready to pay for it.
To address the challenges facing by the artisans, the National Handicraft Development Programme is being implemented by the Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts)
Ambedkar hastshilp vikas yojna
This scheme will be responsible for the overall project and providing bulk production and sourcing of goods. This scheme will help artisans to make use of new technologies. Healthcare facility, infrastructure facility is also a part of this scheme.
Mega cluster scheme & Marketing support and services scheme
This deals with the employment generation and improving the living standards of the artisans. This program deals with the financial stability of the artisans.
I hope with the efforts of the Indian government for the welfare of the artisans, the golden days of artisans will come back soon.