After Make in India the new wave of optimism led by slogan Atma-nirbharta (self-reliance) and vocal for locals is gaining importance. In the chaotic situation of COVID-19, where economic activities have come to a standstill and the overall world economic situation has worsened, Vocal for locals is another Swadeshi movement by Prime minister Modi. Prime minister has started this initiative urging people to be vocal about local products. He urges people to promote and use local products.

Artisans of India are recognized for their craftsmanship, sense of design & color. The handicraft sector plays a significant and important role in India’s economy. It provides employment, generates substantial foreign exchange for the country while preserving its cultural heritage. The art and handicraft sector is the second largest employment generator after agriculture. According to the 2011 Census, there are over 68 lakh artisans in the country, of which 55% of them are women. The handloom sector provides direct and indirect employment to 43 lakhs weavers and allied workers. Handloom and Handicraft sector provides about 111 lakhs employment both in the organized and unorganized sectors. The handicraft and textile sector is the major source of livelihood throughout rural India.

Besides being employment generators, the handicraft industry is economically viable, because of low capital investment. Some of the important hubs of the Indian handicrafts industry are Moradabad (brass artifacts), Saharanpur (wooden artifacts), Firozabad (exclusive glass handicraft) in UP. While Jaipur is famous for its erotic quilts, Bagru and Sanganer (painted textiles) and Jodhpur (unique wooden and wrought iron furniture), in northwestern Rajasthan. Kutch needs special mention because of its exotic embroidered handicraft and Narsapur (AP) is famous for its lace embroidery.

There are approx. 70 lakhs handicraft artisans in the country, which include 20 lakhs artisans related to carpet sector, practicing more than 500 types of crafts like Metal Engraving, Zari Zardosi, Terracotta, Stone Carving, Phulkari, Wood Inlay, Chikankari, Cane & Bamboo, Wooden toys, Blue Pottery & Kutch Embroidery. 35 crafts are recognized as endangered crafts like Assamese Jewellery, Rogan Painting, Sanjhi Crafts, Ganjifa Cards & Chamba Rumal, and 92 crafts are registered under ‘Geographical Indication Act’ like Ganjifa Cards of Mysore, Kashmir Paper Mache, Madhubani paintings, Kathputlis.

In most parts of India, crafts are not practiced as a hobby, nor are they a commercial venture; they are very much an integral part of the life & customs of people.

BAMBOO AND CANE CRAFT: People of Mizoram take great pride in their cane and bamboo work. Cane is used for furniture making, whereas bamboo is used for making jewelry and decorative utility items like lamp-stand, umbrella handles, partitions, screens, flowerpots, etc.

POTTERY AND CLAY OBJECTS: The most popular forms of pottery is blue, black and red pottery, roulette ware, dull red, and dull grey.

WOODEN & METAL PRODUCTS: Wood carving is a significant hobby of Wancho of Tirap. Their skillfully crafted & designed wooden articles have a special place in Arunachal handicrafts.

LEATHER FOOTWEAR AND OTHER LEATHER ARTICLES: Leather products include Jackets, lampshades, pouches, bags, belts, wallets, and stuffed toys. Major production centers in India are Tamil Nadu, Kerala, UP, Punjab, Delhi, Haryana.

Handlooms are the tradition of India. India is well known for its handloom products. With the development of the power loom industry, the handloom industry is lagging.

Famous handloom products in India:

Kancheepuram silk made in Kanchipuram region of Tamil Nadu, the silk is often hailed as the south Indian version of Banarasi Saris

Banarasi silk sarees are an epitome of artistic brilliance. Crafted using gold or silver threads and created with highest grade silk fabrics, Banarasi silk sarees are the queens of Indian sarees.

Chanderi silk is a traditional saree made in Madhya Pradesh is light, comfortable, and gorgeous. It has a sheen and will even make the fussiest sari-weaver happy.

Bandhani sarees are well known for their tie and dye designs and both Gujarat and Rajasthan are famous for their fantastic collections.

Kantha is a type of embroidery famous in West Bengal and Odisha. They are characterized by simple running stitches used to create extensive designs.

Ministry of Textile & Gol unveiled India’s design concept of lines of ‘The future is handmade’. The project aims at bringing to the forefront a multitude of age-old Indian textiles developed by expert artisans and designers to fit the need of the hour. The textile sector is one of the oldest industries in India, estimated around US$ 150 billion, and expected to reach US$250 billion soon. It contributed 7% of the industry output, 15% in export earnings, and over 2% in the GDP of India in 2017–18.

India enjoys the unique advantages of having abundant raw materials and the presence of manufacturing in all segments of the textile value chain. Time has come for the industry to discard outdated technology and modernize its machinery to be globally competitive. India needs to focus on innovation and value addition for improving the global competitiveness of Indian textile and apparel. Affordable raw material, labor, and great stride in textile technology could make India a preferred and formidable destination for foreign investment in the textile & garment business. India’s textile and handlooms sector can play a major role in forging the global luxury industry ahead. Industry’s focus should be to recreate the inherent talent of Indian weavers. India is the world’s 2nd largest producer of textile & garment. The handloom industry plays an important role in women empowerment due to the employment of a lot of women in this sector. Elevating employment opportunities in textile & handicraft sectors & in its allied industries will make these sectors more prosperous. Sectors are an important source to express art & skills in craft and promote culture by making craft and textile items available locally.

Handicraft and handloom artisans need better exposure to markets. A large share of the art and craft products made in India are sold in local or regional markets. Artisans get very few opportunities to sell on retail platforms such as departmental stores and shopping malls. To increase their visibility, the government launched the ‘India Handmade Bazaar’ in 2017, an online portal for direct market access to weavers and artisans. Craftsmen could use it to list their products for users to view and place orders. While this initiative is yet to scale up, the handicrafts sector is looking for more exposure.

Market Development Assistance (M.D.A) Market Access Initiative (M.A.I) envision better marketing of these products through fairs, exhibitions, and producers-buyers meets. ‘Indian Handloom Bazaar’, an online marketing portal is based on the marketing of handicrafts through facilitating direct interaction between buyers and sellers. Focus is on artisans and their enterprise to utilize facilities enabling them to contribute towards the economy & socio-economic upliftment of the community. Artisans and their associations should move forward to get Geographical Indications (GI) tag to enhance the credibility of their products. GI tag is the sign on product showing its region of origin. Demand for the handicraft sector will increase in the future due to the developing fashion industry & sector like retail and real estate offers enormous demand for handicraft products. E-commerce and the Internet have emerged as prominent distribution channels.

PM Modi’s push for self-reliance was a long time coming. Time to revive local industries and create jobs. It is not only about the government that can help. You can pitch in too. The next time you go shopping for gifts, look around for some handmade products for your loved ones. This could be the first step towards recognizing the skill and effort of artisans.

Contributed by Alvina Begum Zeba, Content Writer @ Mitti Ke Rang

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