PMO Letter

Op-Ed

PMO Letter: Crafts in India

Chatterjee, Ashoke

KEYWORDS YOUR VIEWS
Congratulations on an election campaign that has given the nation your sustained leadership at a time of such challenge, at home as well as in the world around us. I am writing to request your priority attention to the potential of Indian handcrafts in addressing some of the most urgent issues that confront your new administration, as well as to the inadequate position of handcrafts within current systems of governance. I ask for your consideration that this enormous sector of our economy --- as well as of our consciousness, culture and identity as Indians --- demands organisation and leadership of a kind that is critically missing today. The importance of crafts extends beyond the economic to our social, cultural, and environmental milieus. Crafts are deeply ingrained in the highest values of our Indian ethos. All of this is endangered today through inadequate attention and understanding of this 'sector of sectors'. Handcrafts urgently need the guidance and oversight of a Ministry that can comprehend and reflect the contribution of crafts to sustainable development and social cohesion in India. This becomes particularly important at a time when domestic and overseas demand is at its most competitive, and so many at the margins of Indian society seek opportunities for their own empowerment. When planning commenced in India some 60 years ago, handcrafts were brought under what was then the Ministry of Commerce & Industry. The perspective applied at that time was to meet the need of earning scarce foreign exchange through exportable Indian crafts. Later, as this Ministry transformed, the Offices of both the Development Commissioner of Handicrafts as well as the Development Commissioner of Handlooms came to be placed in the Ministry of Textiles.  A major range of non-textile crafts are thus today under a Ministry unrelated to its materials or manufacturing processes. Handlooms, although textiles, are under the purview of a Ministry preoccupied with the ...
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