This is part of a special series on the SAI/Tata Trusts Workshop on ‘Creating Livelihoods for the Indian Craft Sector’ held in January in Gandhinagar
By Gayatri Divecha, Project Consultant and Dr. Shashank Shah, Project Director
In his keynote address, Ashoke Chatterjee, former Director of the National Institute of Design (NID) and Hon. President of the Crafts Council of India, provided a comprehensive overview to the Indian Crafts Sector. The story of India’s crafts is unique. They enabled us to fight for our freedom; they were included in the first five-year plan; and have played an important role in economic renaissance between 1947 and 2000.
Documenting the Indian Crafts Sector
However, six years ago the Crafts Council of India (CCI) discovered that data on crafts was so woefully incomplete that they approached the Government to remedy the situation. To their surprise, they were told that crafts were a ‘sunset sector’, an embarrassment having no place in a modern society, with no importance for the future. Convinced that there cannot be an India without crafts, CCI embarked upon a journey with the Tata Trusts and the Planning Commission to improve data which would represent the bedrock for understanding the need and urgency of investing time and resources into crafts. Moreover, it would play an important role in guiding policy and decision making especially considering that the latest census only counts economic establishments and overlooks those who make products for themselves, barter and produce part-time. CCI and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Govt. of India are working towards a survey design that will demystify artisans’ and crafts people’s contribution to the national economy.