Handicrafts are unique expressions and represent a culture, tradition and heritage of a country. The Handicraft Industry is one of the important productive sector. Various attempts have been made to define this broad and diversified industry. The following definition strives to cover diversity and complexity of Handicraft Industry.
Definition According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization/Information Technology Community (UNESCO/ITC) International Symposiumon “Crafts and the International Market: Trade and Customs Codification”, Manila, Philippines, October 1997:
Handicrafts can be defined as products which are produced either completely by hand or with the help of tools. Mechanical tools may be used as long as the direct manual contribution of the artisan remains the most substantial component of the finished product. Handicrafts are made from raw materials and can be produced in unlimited numbers. Such products can be utilitarian, aesthetic, artistic, creative, culturally attached, decorative, functional, traditional, religiously and socially symbolic and significant.
India is a country of rich culture, history and traditions. India is one of the major producer and supplier of Handicrafts products in the world. India has been major producer and supplier of handicrafts products since very long time. Before the industrial development, this art and industry was a potential economic advantage for the country.
During recent years, the importance of handicrafts has been surged due to their cultural and financial values. The small scale industries – including handicrafts can play a major role in the development of the economy of both developed and the developing countries equally. The 90-95% of the total industrial products of the world are produced in small workshops run by less than 100 people. For instance, Japan, which is at the peak of the economic development, has considered 84% of the its industries as small and medium scale industries. In countries such as India and China, handicrafts are as high as the mechanized products in quality and volume, and are a major source of their foreign earnings. These countries are focusing on the development of handicraft industry, in order to strengthen the economy.
The Indian handicrafts industry is highly labor intensive, cottage based and decentralized industry. The industry is spread all over the country mainly in rural and urban areas. Most of the manufacturing units are located in rural and small towns, and there is huge market potential in all Indian cities and abroad. Handicraft industry is a major source of income for rural communities employing over six million artisans including a large number of women and people belonging to the weaker sections of the society.
The Handicraft sector is highly creative sector and produces large variety of crafts products. This industry is localized segment of the domestic and international market. In India the production of craft products are done on both large and small scale. Because of low capital investment people can start their business on small scale. Through this flexibility the demand and supply can be managed.
Though Indian Handicraft industry is considered a cottage industry, but it has evolved as one of the major revenue generator over the years. There has been consistent growth of 15% over few years and the industry has evolved as one of the major contributor for export and foreign revenue generation.
There is huge demand for the Indian Handicraft products in both national and international market. To match the demand and supply with quality, there is need to have greater technological support and innovativeness with the uniqueness in industry.