Indian handicrafts have extraordinary importance in the culture and traditions of different art communities from the country. The handicraft traditions passed to the communities from the ancestors– over 2000 years back. So, what is it that playing major road blockers to utilise this spunky industry its full potential?
(Image Courtesy- turkey.com )
From the early days of civilisation, mankind has cherished art and culture which formed an inherent part of their daily routine life. These crafts were substantial additions to their culture and otherwise mundane life. In the present era of rapid industrialisation, the rural and backward communities in many countries have remained the sole torch bearers of their country's rich culture with such a trend being towards a sustained decline. After the advent of new methods of communication and entertainment, also predominantly with Globalisation, the traditional art forms and their practitioners have suffered due to the neglect of the new generation and steadily decreasing customers.
“Over the last 30 years, the number of craftsmen from India has decreased by 30%, denoting the need to re-invest in craftsmen to safeguard the history, culture, and livelihood of many communities.”
Practising of traditional art forms is clearly not sufficient enough for most artisans to maintain their livelihood. Most of labours/tyros practice them as part time activity with new generations clearly showing disinclination towards the further continuation of such practices even as part time. The important reason behind this is the lack of scope monetarily and the hazy chances of growth opportunities.
Due to the unwillingness of local artisans and also the ignorance of Government there are certain art and crafts that are on the verge of extinction. Behavioural change in people who thinks ancient arts are backward and an obstacle in social and economic development also contribute to declining in handicrafts. Increasing migration has further decreased the number of people who used to practice such arts. The traditional artwork of Puppetry from Rajasthan, Manjusha Paintings from Bihar, Naga Handicrafts from North East, Parsi Embroidery, Roghan Painting which is originated from Kutchh (Rajasthan-Gujarat border), Dhokra Handicrafts from Chhattisgarh, Patola Saris, Folk art of Mithila Paintings these and many such traditional art forms from different states of India are at the severe stage of disappearance. Art and crafts like these represent the diversity of cultures and traditions in India. There is a rich history behind the origin of such crafts and they highlight the vitality of Indian Handicrafts. To most artists, the traditional art form has given little else other than work gratification. Workmen are no longer able to lead a dignified life from their minuscule earning. This forces many of them to migrate or take up other forms of employments. E.g. this is the primary reason why the Chadar Badar, a form of puppetry is fast fading. Little or no innovation is other reasons for most of these art forms have not been able to repackage themselves given the changing times.
(Image: Compilation of rare art form pictures)
It is common in this technological digital era, that people will incline less towards traditions things unless properly make aware of its cultural values. So an immediate step around the country is the need of the hour to save our assets. Government taking some noteworthy actions in form of different yojanas. USTAAD is one such important step where renowned artisans of various arts are funded and are taken under the wings of government. Another government schemes include ‘Mudra Yojana’, ‘Nayi Manzil’ among others. These schemes are helping to improve the socio-economic condition of craftsmen all over the country.
Pradhan Mantri Nayi Manzil Yojana has been launched by central government to provide free education to children of artisans and also train them for a craftwork of their choice. With this scheme, government strive to make these students capable of merging with competitive modern environment by keeping their artistic skills intact.
Prominent Social reformer, Jaya Jaitly, is constantly working towards the betterment of Indian Handicraft Industry by aiming to protect India's cultural heritage from the threat of globalised marketplaces. She is a voice of many artisan groups from the country. Skill India is another prominent scheme that conceptualises to provide a collaboration platform to help empower the all stakeholders to freely connect with each other.
For more information about these schemes:
(In Image: Jaya Jaitly, a Social Reformer and a voice for many artisans in India)
Some preventive measures which can be taken to help traditional art forms flourish:
• Government support in the form of grants/scholarships to artists can boast the morale of the practitioners of these art forms.
• Popularising these art forms on national/ international level such as cultural meets/exhibitions/festivals. This will also leverage the growth of tourism industry.
• Educating children on different art forms in schools, besides introducing more professional courses on these art forms will certainly help.
• The government can declare tax benefits for “buying or Gifts of cultural, art products” and encourage.
The long life of handicraft industry is dependent on many factors but mainly it is we, people, who need to propel with the idea of flourishing the industry as it one significant identity of our culture and traditions.