After agriculture, handmade crafts is the second largest occupation in India. India is one of the very few countries in the world that has a tradition of handicrafts dating back to over 5000 years. From the ruins of Mohenjadaro to the Ashoka regime stupas to the folk embroidery of Punjab, every art form is identified for its strong ethnicity. Rajasthan is famous for its pottery and marble handicrafts while UP, Tamil Nadu and Delhi are states that have achieved worldwide recognition for their handmade jewelry and wooden crafted items.
For centuries, these were worshipped arts whose secrets weren’t revealed to the outside world. The skills would be passed down from generation to generation and that is how every region acquired their unique art forms. However the emergence of the machine age has majorly impacted the livelihood of the Indian artisan.
The crafts that these artisans produce are days or even months of painstaking efforts but availability of a large range of readymade items is seeing people flock to the latter. Awareness about such unique handmade crafts among the common man is very low and thus the artisans and skilled experts aren’t selling enough to make a decent living. Countless of them have even given up on the trade in search of greener pastures. Apathy has even led to the disappearance of several of these treasured arts and some such as the Indian kantha, an embroidery handicraft is almost on the brink of extinction.
For any profession to prosper there is a need to evolve with time and this is where this sphere of work is finding it hard to catch up with modern times. If this trend continues, the Indian crafts may very well be lost in the next few decades. The government as well as marketing companies thus have a huge role to play in the upkeep of these arts. The visual and aesthetic appeal of these handicrafts and handmade items need to reach a larger audience and this can only be done by creating more awareness among people.
Technology can also have a huge role in promotion of these handicraft items. Today the world is connected via the net and this is a tool that can be used to connect with global audiences. If tapped in the right way, this is something that could revolutionize the Indian handicraft scene and help the designers, artisans and small businesses sell their products online and thus connect to a large customer base. However business models need to be created that benefits both artisans as well the customers buying these items.