India has been considered as a land of culture, colours and art. Art and handicraft have been an integral part of the Indian lifestyle from time immemorial. Statues and artefacts found by archaeologists at various ancient Indian civilizations are a proof to it. From handmade household items to delicate and exquisite showpieces, Indians are in love with their handiwork and so is the world.
A Huge Potential
The Indian Handicraft market is huge and stands at over thirty thousand crores. It employs over six million craftsmen and artisans of rural and urban areas. This sector includes a plethora of art forms like jewellery making, handmade fabric, cosmetics, fashion accessories, painting forms, pottery, idols, various forms of embroidery and more. This makes India a large player in the international market which exports over ten thousand crores worth of handicraft goods. This export segment is the largest chunk of the handicraft market. The other segment comprises of NGOs working in association with the Government for the overall development of artisans. The final segment is that of artisans which work and market their products locally and comprise of individuals or small groups. This categorization reflects the unorganized nature of the sector. The resultant is the lower than expected appreciation and cost that these deserving artisans receive. Having no access to the retail and global market, they have to settle down with the bare minimum sale price they get via the middlemen who pocket a large share.
Retail to the Rescue
The Retail Industry which is the meeting point for product and the customer can play a much bigger/pivotal role bringing due credit to the handicraft sector. Retail as a sector is in a better position, has better reach among customers, and uses varied payment methods which can prove to be a focal point in bringing organized changes to the handicraft sector. Here’s how the retail industry can help leverage the handicraft and art.
- The need is to bring a common retail platform that gives these artisans an opportunity to directly interact with customers.
- The retail industry can help showcase quality products are various malls, shops and online retail portals.
- Their marketing agencies need to up their act by advertising and creating awareness about the handicraft items, its capability and unique items that can help customers enhance their lifestyle.
- They can get in touch with the artisans to teach them about designing and packaging their products in an attractive way.
- Dedicated malls or shops that showcase traditional crafts work can be set up at all major tourist spots to give local and foreign customers a closer look and direct access to the various items.
- Showcasing the products at important places like airports, malls, tourist spots, and trade shows will generate more awareness and new customers.
Thankfully, today, the young minds are recognizing the opportunities that lays untapped in the handicraft sector. The Government too is looking for ways to the boost handicraft through its initiatives like Make in India and Gramin Haat. Many young entrepreneurs are getting in touch with the artisans and providing them with a platform to showcase their potential in the global market. They have introduced the artisans to technology and utilizing it for their benefit. Using technology is making them create newer markets globally. Imparting marketing and designing knowledge to artisans is also important. They can also be guided to incorporate new and modern designs in their traditional methods to create more globally appealing fusion craft ware. Dedicated workshops can be organised to take the art forms to more people and get more people involved with this sector. These steps are all necessary to keep the traditions alive and stop the attrition that craft villages are facing in search of better livelihood.
– Sneha Sinha