The handicrafts sector has an important role to make the Indian Government’s ‘Skill India’ mission a success. The Indian handicraft industry contributes in a major way in uplifting the social and economic lives of the artisans. With more than seven million artisans and nearly 67,000 export houses, the Indian handicrafts industry is one of the largest employment sectors of the country as skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development for any country.
The Government of India launched a massive ‘Skill India’ campaign to tap the huge potential of artisans from the nook and corner of the country under its National Skill Development Mission. The Indian handicrafts industry is highly labour intensive. Most artisans operate in unorganized sector. ”The handicraft has a very large spread over. The handicraft items are produced by the craft persons who are located in small villages and they are from the small and weaker sections of the society. We have about seven million craft persons working in the remote areas of the country,” said Rakesh Kumar, Executive Director of Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts. The Indian handcrafted items are much sought after both in the local and international markets.
Cottage Emporium in the national capital attracts a huge crowd. Customers from different countries visit the emporium and purchase handcrafted materials. An NRI couple from the United Kingdom said they visit the emporium every time they visit India. ”We bought a few items. We bought Buddha and a few items for people back at UK. We buy quite a few things every time we come here. It’s a fantastic place authentic item from authentic artisans and you know exactly what you are buying,” the visitor said.
Another foreign customer said, “This is my fifth or sixth visit to this particular shop and I have good Indian friend here. We always come to this place because I like the handicrafts and buy presents to take home with me.” Indian artisans and their handcrafted products have huge demand in the world. India’s total handicrafts exports stood at 4.5 billion USD in 2014-15. The US alone accounted for approximately 26.1 percent of India’s total handicraft exports in 2014-15. It was followed by the European Union.
Kumar said, “If we see export basket, out of total export of handicrafts 66 percent of our handicrafts are transported to US, Canada and European Union as well as Japan, Australia and New Zealand. We can say traditionally all these affluent markets say about 40 markets were importing 70 percent of the handicraft items.” Low capital investments, high labour pool coupled with traditional skills are some of the major factors for the success of Indian handicrafts industry.
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