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Re: nift assignments... -
October 25th, 2008
“The Priceless Riches of Indian Handicraft Industry”
(The handicraft industry market)
The handicraft industry stands at "100 billion worldwide and India has 1.2% of this market. This year the major buyers of Indian handicrafts were US, Canada, the European and the West Asian countries among which the United States rule largest import market for Indian handicrafts. The handicrafts industry in India is spread all over the country employing approximately over 5 million artisans and around 67,000 exporters tapping this market. The handicraft and handloom sector is a major source of rural employment and earns substantial foreign exchange. The Indian handicraft sector this year has shown an annual average growth rate of 8.5%. Handicrafts, over the last few years have transformed their utility from mere shelf decorative to daily useable category. It is thus the primary need of any seller to constantly update, develop & add to his product profile.
Handicrafts are the second biggest source of employment in rural and tribal economy. While exports of handicrafts from India have crossed $ 2.9 bn, registering a growth of 29.07% during 2004-05, innovative initiatives are required if India has to increase its share in the global market for gifts and handicrafts which is presently to the tune of more than $ 235 bn.
The handicraft market has really changed over the years and one cannot imagine even surviving in the market with the same old products. Major items of export include art like metalware, woodware, handprinted textiles and leather, wood and cane wares, embroidered and crocheted goods, shawls as artware, zari goods, laces, and fashion jewelry. Traditional textiles are as popular abroad as they are within the country. The major export items include hand-knotted carpets, art metalware, hand-printed textiles.
These all are exported as well as sold in the local markets. But the constant drawback of this industry is the change in consumer's demand in favour of stainless steel, plastic, ceramic goods and crockery, also getting loans from banks remains complicated.. The woodcraft industry in India is scattered throughout the country with greater concentration in states like UP (Saharanpur), Jammu & Kashmir (Srinagar), Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu. These products have a great market in the foreign countries and are in great demand over there.
The Indian government also has taken active part to boost this industry and Government's propaganda of the woodcraft has found a great market for Indian woodcrafts in the west. These small little sticks have become very popularly in the market. Their fragrance is said to lure the world. The sticks come in variety of fragrances and are made from mixture natural ingredients like extract of rose and other flowers, sandalwood, other fruity fragrance, spicy fragrance etc. Incense is said to purify the atmosphere. It is used in many places of worship, religious functions, festive occasions, weddings etc for various purposes. Despite its wide usage and popularity, a significant part of the Indian incense industry is still cottage-oriented.
Major competitor of India is Japan with ruling more than 50% of the Incense Industry. India has over 3800 production units and is said to generate approximately US " 300 million from domestic and export markets. Quality is the primary importance one needs to follow. Also packaging of this material is another crucial aspect one needs to concentrate on. Further the right kind of marketing approach can win you many promising customers thus flourishing the Indian incense market further at global level. The count of Indian handicraft product remains infinite and the industry have withstood competition from machines over the years. Overall the Indian culture is rich in hand crafted goods but repetition is it's only enemy which cannot quench the need of this so fast changing market. The manufacturers and exporters have to be constantly be on their toes and come out with new innovative ideas that work in the export market.
History of crafts in India
Crafts are an integral part in the life of an Indian, despite the rapid social and technological changes that are taking place. In the Western world, special artists create craft objects and they are considered as luxury items. But in India like many other developing countries it is the main source of employment for a vast majority of the population, next to agriculture
Crafts were an important commodity for world trade and they were a part of the economy in India, since ancient times. Trade links between India and the rest of the world existed from ancient periods. India being the home of cotton had textile trade with the Far East and the Western world. Indian textiles and their permanent dyes were accepted throughout the world. Roman trade documents mention that silk was exported from India to Europe from the 6th century A.D. The Arab sailors brought silver and gold from their countries and took back shiploads of handicraft objects from India to the Far- East. In the North, caravans carried woven textiles along the Silk route and went right unto Moscow by the Fur- route.
Under the good patronage of the early Mughals, India's handicrafts reached its pinnacle of perfection. Crafts like carpets, textiles and jewellery were developed into fine arts. The famed Mughal Emperors namely Akbar, Shah Jahan and Jehangir invited skilled craftsmen from all over the world and blend their native ideas with our own techniques and skills. Brocading and velvet manufacturing developed rapidly in India than in their native countries. But with the break- up of the Mughal Empire and the growing enmity between the smaller Princely states, local crafts lost their centuries- old local patronage. With the East India Company coming to India, the volume of trade reduced though they managed to strive.
England flooded the Indian market with its cheap machine-made items, which ousted the homemade crafts. A number of craftsmen were turned destitutes overnight. Those who continued with their craft had to compete with the machine-made goods, that quality was made to suffer. Gandhiji's Swadeshi movement focused on the plight of the Indian craftsmen and on the need for maintaining the ancient craft traditions.
After Independence, The Handicrafts Board was set up to look into the plight of the dying crafts. Slowly demand grew for these items both at home and also abroad. Recent export figures show that India is lagging behind in many handicraft commodities except in the case of gems and jewellery items.
Despite the growth of handicrafts industry in India, the average earnings of the craftsmen when compared to other fields is very low. Hence the younger generation is moving onto other fields with only the elder craftsmen left over. The average age of many master craftsmen is around 50 years.
Improving educational system and lifestyles of the middle class people contribute a lot for the eroding of the native crafts in India. Cheap plastic items have now flooded the market and people have left out the age-old clay and metal containers. They do not understand the harmfulness of plastic items, which may react with their food . Also they have moved onto wearing synthetic clothes avoiding good, comfortable and cheap cotton woven items, just for their patterns and cost.
The need of the hour is assistance for the craftsmen to improve their techniques, availability of good raw materials, direct marketing channels, credit and enough wages and socio-economic benefits
Indian Handicrafts- No longer a Cottage Industry
Indian handicrafts, typically considered a cottage industry has outgrown its garb to evolve into a revenue grosser. From US $ 1.2 mn in 1999-2000 to US$1.9 billion in 2003, there has been a consistent annual growth of more than 15 per cent over a ten-year period, from a meager 3.6% to a respectable 10% share in world handicrafts exports.
The nine items that account for nearly 63 percent of export turnover include art metalware, woodware, hand-printed textiles, hand-knotted and embroidered textiles, leather goods, stoneware, carpets and floor coverings. Today there are more than 6,500 handicraft exporters who are members of the Export Promotion Council For Handicrafts (EPCH) sourcing their needs from nearly 1.2 million units employing roughly 4.1 million artisans.
While, departmental store chains like Walmart, Sears and Zellers are being approached to sell Indian products, the National Institute of Design (NID), a premier design institute in the country is also sharing its knowledge base, its capabilities in creative product development, understanding of craft technology, requisite training for skill upgradation and product diversification.
Indian handicrafts have won the admiration of connoisseurs all over the world. The age-old rich cultural heritage, which is the hallmark of India, is manifest in every handicraft produced in any corner of the country. Be it the magnificent brassware of Moradabad, glittering diamond work of Jaipur, archaic wood-craft of Jodhpur, exquisite embroidery of Jammu and Kashmir, fine filigree work of Orissa or the glorious sculpture work of Southern India, handicraft from India have carved a niche across the world. As per the census conducted by the office of the Development Commissioner (Handicraft) the country accounted for over 80 lakh artisans in various branches of handicrafts and the total value of their production was estimated to be Rs. 40,000 crores.
There is a huge potential exists in the country for economic development in rural areas through employment and income generation by promoting handicrafts. However, some of the fundamental challenges faced by this sector include product diversification, technology upgradation, standardization of raw materials, quality of product, product packaging, continuity in supply, etc.
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