Being mostly unorganized and predominantly family-bound or promoted by SHGs, the handicrafts sector faces a severe shortage of skills and knowledge that can help the sector grow, sustain and scale. How does the lack of skills affect the artisans and handicraft clusters? Let’s look at few important aspects of why skilling and vocational training should take precedence for any scheme in this sector.
Handicrafts in India symbolize our rich heritage and culture along with many skills handed over through generations. Nevertheless, the value they generate through exports remained to be realized and we are yet to explore their potential for economic development. The sector is low on low capital investment and has significant export potential. One of the ways, we can achieve overall growth in this sector is through empowerment of artisan clusters.
“Cluster can be defined as concentration of micro, small and medium enterprises in a given geographical location producing the same or a similar type of products or services and these enterprises face similar types of opportunities and threats. The cluster is known by the name of the product being produced by principal firms and the place they are located in.” United Nations Industrial Development Organization: UNIDO
Most of the handicraft artisans are based in clusters in different regions of India. It’s a labour-intensive sector mostly dependent on traditional methods of production. The clusters have a geographical identity and it comprises groups of crafts persons and artisans who come together to achieve common goals like better production, sales and networking.
Main clusters include Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Delhi, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. All these clusters have location-specific products often identified with GI tag. Within the cluster, we find close linkages between the artisans and they are interdependent to fulfill their requirements.
State-wise Handicraft clusters: The State of Uttar Pradesh tops with 282 handicraft clusters, followed by Orissa and West Bengal with 271 and 245 clusters respectively and Gujarat with 199 clusters. The region-wise distribution of clusters shows that in the Eastern Region there are 982 clusters, South 485, North 509 and in West there are 706 clusters. 37% of handicraft clusters are located in the 4 States of UP, Orissa, West Bengal and Gujarat.
Product group-wise Handicraft clusters: The 2682 handicraft clusters in India produce 292 types of products. These 292 products have been placed in 24 product groups. The largest of the group is that of textiles having 548 clusters followed by Basketry with 418, woodwork with 298, metalware 251 and earthenware 203 clusters.
5 challenges faced by handicrafts clusters:
To overcome the above mentioned challenges we need to re-look at the strategy for capacity building through skill development. It is only by imparting the right skills that we help them overcome outdated methods of production, increase productivity, improve quality, packaging and delivery. In other words, they need technical skills to come up with innovative designs, use tools that compliment their manual work and diversify their products through proper branding and marketing. The challenge gets doubled since most artisans’ level of education is low leading to low standard of living and low exposure to the world outside their local region.
Handicraft Clusters need skill development in three critical areas:
With most artisans, being nano, micro or small entrepreneurs the skilling requirements in this sector demand an orientation towards micro-entrepreneurship along with self-employment.
With the formation of HCSSC, the training and skill development needs of this sector are in the process of getting thoroughly organized as per NSQF levels. Following are the key areas where skilling interventions are needed.
Common facility Centre (CFC) can be leveraged for skill development
CFC will address the need for training centres in a cluster as per the local or regional requirements with active involvement of artisans from that region. Through CFCs the artisans can be trained in relevant skills pertaining to:
In addition to professional training programmes, industry seminars, workshops, awareness about export potential is much-needed. This will also provide support, motivation, handholding and mentoring for many who are keen on working in this sector.
The Craft Clusters of India portal showcases 35,312 products under 32 different categories with clustered details about where the product was actually made. This is an example of market linkage to these artisans of various clusters for enabling direct sales or sending any enquiries. To expand the reach through digital technology for the benefit of many artisans it is essential that we focus on empowering them with right knowledge and skills. At the same time, it is important to build competitiveness of the cluster through efficient processes, production and marketing. This can be achieved through multi-stakeholder involvement by harnessing the power of public-private participation and outcome-oriented approach.
New Delhi-30th October 2021 - Hon’ble Minister of State, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Shri. Rajeev Chandrasekhar visited Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Fair-IHGF-Delhi Fair on 30th Oc tober 2021 at IEML, Greater Noida organized by Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts-EPCH. Shri. Rakesh Kumar, Director General-EPCH, Shri. Arshad Mir, Chairman-HCSSC and Mr. Krishan Kumar, CEO-HCSSC welcomed the Minister and walked him through the Fair and briefed him about the vibrant and heritage products of Handicrafts exhibited by the different Industry members/Exporters in the event. The Minister also interacted with the Industry Members/Exporters and MSME enterprises from North East States, Southern States and Jammu & Kashmir who briefed him the different categories of the products that are displayed by each of them in the fair. The Minister visited the exhibition stall of Handicrafts and Carpet Sector Skill Council which is being set up to introduce and promote the activities of the Council under Skill India Mission among the International Buyers and other visitors in the fair. The Hon’ble Minister during the event said that he is highly impressed with the kind of International promotion is being done of traditional and heritage crafts of India through IHGF Delhi Fair.
IHGF is amongst Asia's largest gifts & handicrafts fair, held biannually (Spring & Autumn edition) and is organised by Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH). The most significant and distinct sourcing platform in Asia – (IHGF Delhi Fair Autumn 2021), bringing you much more of everything you need and everything you want, bringing you a thoughtfully re-conceptualized & renewed IHGF Delhi Fair Autumn 2021 with 12 clear product categories in enriched display spaces.
During a two-day official visit to Jammu and Kashmir, Hon’ble Minister of State Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar visited the traditional crafts cluster of Mirgund Pattan, Baramulla.
The visit was part of a Government of India outreach programme aimed at connecting with people on the ground and monitoring the execution of different Central Government Schemes in the UT.
Mr. Arshad Mir, Chairman of the Handicrafts and Carpet Sector Skill Council, and Mr. Krishan Kumar, CEO of the Handicrafts and Carpet Sector Skill Council, took him around the centre, which is well-equipped with all of the infrastructure and raw materials for the region's traditional crafts, such as carpets, embroidery, paper machine, and Namda products.
Mr. Arshad Mir also briefed the Hon’ble Minister on the process of making handicrafts, as well as the sector's growth and possibilities. The Chairman stressed the need for skill development in the handicraft industry in order to not only resuscitate the region's traditional and cultural heritage crafts, but also to provide work possibilities for artists and weavers.
Hon’ble Minister Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar expressed his delight after speaking with the artisans about the great art and talent displayed by the locals. He stated that a specific emphasis will be placed on the development of local artists through the skilling and up-skilling program. He also presented certificates of recognition to local artists who had successfully completed training and assessments in the various job roles of the Handicrafts and Carpet Sector Skill Council in accordance with the National Skills Qualifications Framework as part of the Skill India Mission.
Jammu and Kashmir handicrafts have gained international acclaim for their delicate refinement and artistic grace. These crafts have a wide range of applications and are in high demand. There are approximately five lakh artists in the state who rely only on handicrafts for a living, and there is still a lot of scope for more jobs to be created in this sector if markets are extended and demand is boosted.
Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Hon'ble Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Electronics and Information Technology visited the traditional and heritage crafts cluster of Dimapur, Nagaland at Sovima Village, during a two-day official visit to Nagaland.
Dimapur, Nagaland, is known for its traditional arts and crafts. The city of Dhansiri is located near the Dhansiri River. Because bamboo grows abundantly here, artists have learnt to create a variety of ornamental and functional products from it. If markets are expanded and demand is enhanced, there is still a lot of room for more jobs to be generated in this area.
Ms. Jesmina Zeliang, Executive Member, and Mr. Krishan Kumar, CEO, both from the Handicrafts and Carpet Sector Skill Council, showed him around the Training Centre, where more than 600 artisans and weavers have been trained through an industry-based training programme and have since been connected with the industry.
Ms. Jesmina Zeliang highlighted the need of industry collaborations in taking the region's cultural traditions and heritage crafts to the next level in order to ensure long-term employment and promote the country's export of handcrafted products. She also underlined the necessity for a Centre of Excellence where artisans may interact directly with stakeholders, with the stakeholders' job being to connect them to national and international markets.
Hon’ble Minister of State Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar stated that the Ministry will place a greater emphasis on traditional skilling, re-skilling, and up-skilling, as well as collaborating with industry to help skilled craftspeople gain market access.
He also advised that more cluster-based training programs with industry connections, self-employment options, and a micro-entrepreneurial approach be implemented and expanded for the overall benefit of the region's traditional heritage crafts.
The Sector Skill Council also aims to establish a Centre of Excellence in various traditional crafts clusters of Nagaland for skilling, re-skilling, and up-skilling the existing artisans and weavers, starting with Sovima Village, Dimapur, Nagaland, with the goal of promoting and developing traditional handloom and handicrafts products.