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The unpublished paper, a copy of which Dr Chatterjee, former director, National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, has forwarded to Counterview, regrets that "artisans have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

Unknown 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

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Critics of your government should not be in jail: PUCL shoots open letter to Modi

Counterview Desk In an open letter, Ravikiran Jain, national president, and Dr V Suresh, general secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have taken strong exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s view that raising human rights issues can ‘tarnish’ the country’s reputation, stating, those who raise human rights concerns do it “through established United Nations mechanisms such as the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights.”

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

When judges behave more like priests, delivering sermons from high podium...

By Ajit Singh*  The theory of separation of power found its origins in ancient Greece but with the passage of time it became widespread in other parts of Europe. Early proponent of the theory Greek philosopher Aristotle in “Politics” argued that implementation of constitution in letter and spirit can only be possible if the three elements among whom the power has been distributed are well arranged.

Covid appropriate behaviour? Why masks can't be suitable in hot, humid climate

By Dr Amitav Banerjee* Appearances can be deceptive. So can be Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB). An anecdote illustrates this well known cliché. A man who is very particular about hygiene decides to eat out. After a rather long search, he spots a restaurant which has a spotlessly clean exterior and he walks in.

Muck being thrown in Uttarakhand rivers: Villagers face 'existential' crisis

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The Uttarakhand government must act fast to clear the path of Dhauli Ganga river about two kilometres ahead of village Neeti and about one kilometre from Ghamsali village, which is about 90 kilometer from Joshi Math town in district Chamoli. The creation of an artificial lake due to throwing of muck and mud can create a catastrophic situation like what happened on February 7, 2021-- the Rishi Ganga-Dhauli Ganga tragedy at Tapovan and Raini village in which over 200 people lost their life.

How Indore turned into water minus city after authorities 'managed' Water Plus title

Water harvester cleaning up hyacinth from an Indore river By Rahul Banerjee*  Recently, the city of Indore was declared the first Water Plus city in India under the Swachh Sarvekshan programme of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for its ostensibly exemplary waste water management. However, the reality is quite different as a detailed study of the prevailing wastewater management situation in the city shows.

UP govt 'ignoring' demand to fill up teachers' posts despite unemployment: Rights groups

Sandeep Pandey with Shikha Pal Counterview Desk  Commenting on the unique protest undertaken by Shikha Pal atop an overhead water tank for nearly four months, the Socialist Party (India), in association with several civil rights group, Yuva Shakti Sangathan, Socialist Yuvjan Sabha and Rihai Manch, have wondered why has the Yogi Adityanath government is so “insensitive” towards her demands and is looking the “other way.”

Restricting use of public places for religious purpose: Will Gehlot govt respect HC order?

By Kavita Srivastava*  The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan, has welcomed the judgment of the Rajasthan High Court dismissing the petition by Pooja Gurnani which challenged a circular of the Rajasthan government which restrained the construction of a ‘Pooja Sthal’ in the premises of a police station.

Rehabilitation site 'offered' to 6000 displaced Khori villagers not livable: Team Saathi

By Our Representative  Second round of the Chitthi Andolan (letter movement) of the Khori village residents, whose more than 6,000 houses were demolished as they were allegedly built on forest land, has begun, with hundreds of them telling the authorities of the Municipal Corporation, Faridabad, that no one has received the promised financial assistance of meagre Rs 2,000.