Approximately 7.3 million people in India depend on handicraft and allied activities for livelihood, according to a study conducted by KPMG for National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). And the heartless pandemic has probably struck these 7.3 million people most violently.
In these times of scarcity, Indian handicraft items have unfortunately been forgotten, and aren’t essential commodities for most of us. This has brought artisans to their knees as they struggle to support their families. Due to lack of sales, they have no capital to invest in further productions and procurement of raw materials. They also have no means to showcase their work as exhibitions are prohibited. Not only this, the All India Handloom Board and All India Handicrafts Board have been abolished by the government of India without any alternatives in place, according to Business Today. This means that Artisans have lost their only medium of communication with the government too.
Indian Handicrafts organizations have responded in several ways. Some have tried to cut their overhead costs and provided craftsmen with work enough to meet their minimum needs. Others who are unable to do so have appealed to the general public to donate for relief distribution. But these measures have seemed insufficient and many craftsmen have now helplessly turned to agriculture or migrated to other places in search of alternative livelihoods.
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The inevitable solution then is to turn to online advertising and selling of Indian handicrafts and for this, organizations will have to partner with individuals from varied fields. In an article in The Wire, Laila Tyabji writes, “The ‘Incredible India’ campaign had Indians, along with the rest of the world, rediscover this country. We now need to make them discover the skills, range and power of Indian craftspeople.’’ True, and we need to do it quickly before the pandemic snip snip snips away one of the last threads connecting us to tradition.
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