Issue #002, Monsoon, 2019 ISSN: 2581- 9410
This paper explores the dichotomies of India’s craft experience. These reflect the centrality of hand production to the Freedom struggle under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership, bold experiments in craft development as part of national planning once India was free, and contrasting notions today of what should represent modernity and progress. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay pioneered a range of institutions and approaches intended to empower artisans and to secure a lasting position for craft in India’s culture and economy. Her efforts and those of craft masters and other leaders registered many achievements, as Indian crafts swept the country and the globe, demonstrating an ability to evolve and change with new times and new challenges. A craft renaissance was achieved over many hurdles and India’s craft leadership became unquestioned. Yet in more recent times there has been a distinct retreat in understanding and support. Suddenly, the artisan and her culture and skills have been interpreted as representing a primitive past that is out of step with ambitions of global power and influence. New attitudes were revealed in the term ‘sunset industry’ that began to be applied to the craft sector. A sense of crisis now threatens the legacy of India’s craft pioneers and the achievements of another generation of activists. Meanwhile, industrially advanced societies are striving to recover their own craft heritage as a source of creativity indispensable...
advocacy, India, POLICY
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