Skip to main content

Govt of India handicrafts policy riddled with neglect, loss, anxiety; sector employs 45% of workforce: Dr Chatterjee

By Our Representative
Amidst rising demand from civil society advocates for a zero tax regime for handmade products, placed under the Goods and Services Tax (GST), well-known scholar, Dr Ashoke Chatterjee, has said in a recent paper that the sector, which is the second biggest source of livelihood following agriculture, remains "characterised by a pervasive mood of neglect, loss and anxiety."
The unpublished paper, a copy of which Dr Chatterjee, former director, National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, has forwarded to Counterview, regrets that "artisans have remained invisible in priorities of national planning and investment", despite the wide "acknowledgement" that handcrafts are the nation’s second largest source of livelihood, after agriculture."
Talking about his paper, Dr Chatterjee told Counterview, that indifference towards the sector was visible even during the previous UPA government, "when Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, vice chairman, Planning Commission, addressing an international seminar which I attended, characterized the handicrafts sector as a sunset sector."
Ironically, says Dr Chatterjee in his paper, a UN/World Bank-sponsored gathering in Jodhpur in 2005, identified craft as the largest component of India’s creative and cultural industries -- "an engine of growth and stability, and as perhaps the largest industry in the world, outstripping petroleum, and constituting some 3% of world GDP ($2,250 billion)."
Yet, he regrets, "At home, those who matter appeared not to be listening, even as one official report estimated that these industries were already engaging over 45% of India’s workforce." Even then, he adds, there is "absence of reliable data that could communicate the scale of artisanal contributions to the national economy."
Thus, says Dr Chatterjee, "Official estimates of over 11 million artisans (over 4.3 million weavers/workers in the handloom sector and almost 7 million other craftspersons) have remained largely unchanged since India’s Twelfth Five-Year Plan emerged in 2012. Other estimates have ranged from 73 million to 200 million. In 2015, yet another estimate reckoned that 250 million artisans were organized into some 600,000 cooperatives across the country."
Meanwhile, he adds, in 2012, a Tata Trusts-sponsored Crafts Council of India (CCI) exercise in craft pockets of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat to attempt the design a methodology reflected in the Craft Economics & Impact Study (CEIS), which finally led the Government of India "to include artisans for the first time in the Economic Census 2013". A later deliberation rejected the constraints of the ‘economic establishments’ restricted to a list of handcrafts outside the purview of the Ministry of Textiles.
Suggesting that even today things have not been finalised, Dr Chatterjee says, the NITI Aayog that now replaces the Planning Commission, as a next step, would need to carry out data collection on the basis the CCI's sample-surveys "to investigate issues arising from the new data, helping to unpack issues critical..."
Comments Dr Chatterjee, "Data on the sector’s contributions to employment and national productivity have taken criticality in a current context of building employment opportunities for some 800 million vulnerable Indians. The need for new jobs each year is estimated at between 10 million and 15 million, while a frightening prospect of ‘jobless growth’ grows as new technologies enter the mechanized sector."

Comments

Lalit Das said…
Fully agree. Zero percent GST is only a small step.

Handicraft exports from India increased by 11.07 per cent year-on-year during April 2016-March 2017 to US$ 3.66 billion. During this period, the exports of various segments registered positive growth like Shawls as Artwares (26.79 per cent), Hand printed Textiles & Scarves (25.96 per cent), Artmetal wares (19.04 per cent), Agarbatis and attars (6.76 per cent) and Embroidered & Crochetted goods (5.85 per cent).

Modern India has become a parasite living of India's traditional handicraft skills, labour and sweat. Can't we plough back 10% of the export earnings for the development and welbeing of the artisan tradition.

We need an insitution of artisans, for artisan by artisans. Only the best in the artisan tradition foster and sustain our rich artisan tradition. Lalit Kumar Das

TRENDING

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

RSS 'demonizing' Muslim demographics: Hindus' growth rate decline 2.5% lower

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The RSS is riding its old hobbyhorse again. Addressing the Yuva Dampati Sammelan attended by reportedly 2000 young couples organized by the RSS’ Kutumb Prabhodan in Agra on August 21, the RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, apparently concerned about the “declining Hindu population” exhorted young Hindu couples to have more children.

River interlinking to transfer tribals' drinking, irrigation water to Maharashtra industries

Counterview Desk
Top advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), recently submitted its comments on the Damanganga–Vaitarna-Godavari Intrastate Link project to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), a project sought to be packaged by the Maharashtra chief minister as diversion of water from allegedly water surplus Konkan region to the drought-affected Marathwada region.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

Here's proof: Manual scavenging is rampant, Ahmedabad isn't open defecation free

By Parsottam Vaghela*
Authorities of Ahmedabad, the largest city of Gujarat, may have gone into full swing in its cleanliness drive under the Swachh Bharat mission after the city was awarded the open defecation free plus (ODF+) certificate by the Union government’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. However, my visit to some of the areas of the walled city of Ahmedabad on August 7 in order to ascertain whether it has become open defecation free suggested that the claim is a total humbug.

Govt of India 'has no plan' to reduce energy, fossil fuel consumption, emissions

Counterview Desk
In his representation to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Government of India on draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP), 2019, top power policy analyst Shankar Sharma has insisted that there is imminent need to consider the economic activities at the national/international level very carefully from the perspective of climate change.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.