Promoting the crafts

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Most of the time, we are so involved in discussing and promoting the fine arts that we often forget those hundreds and thousands of craftsmen and artisans who create folk and tribal art, handicrafts and other hand made products. Making such products requires a tremendous amount of skill and hours of labor, and financial returns are low. In most cases, the skill and craftsmanship is passed on from one generation to the next, but because economic viability is poor, the newer generations prefer to opt for alternative sources of livelihood.

Madhubani, Pithora, Warli are just some of the folk art forms which can be used in interiors to decorate walls either through mural paintings, or smaller framed works which can be hung on walls. Incidentally, there are many corporate spaces which have integrated folk arts and crafts in their d├ęcor – either as a small mural on a cafeteria wall or as bright paintings that liven up cubicle spaces. As any form of support from individuals or organizations can make a huge difference in the growth and sustenance of this sector, proposals that address this need must be encouraged.

In this context, an initiative by the Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur, which is organizing an event Saamanjasya 2010, deserves a mention. The forthcoming three day event aims to bring various key players responsible for social and economic growth together through a series of programs from 19-21st March. During the event, artisans will participate in Kalakaar Vikas, a program which will provide a platform to artisans to display their crafts before a large audience. This is being achieved by tying up with an NGO called Saarthi, which deals specifically with the welfare of artisans. Other plans include presenting the cause of these artisans before corporates, setting up meets for funding and providing technical expertise wherever possible. Overall, it seems to be a good initiative which could greatly benefit the artisans who are participating in the program.

However, it’ll be interesting to see how the proposals translate into action and what kind of monetary and other support artisans can gain from this venture. As a prototype the proposal has its merits, and if it works well it can be replicated elsewhere on a larger scale to include a greater number of affected people. As we all know there is an urgent need to focus on the revival of traditional arts and crafts that are on the decline, and corporate involvement can make a huge difference in the overall development and sustenance of indigenous crafts of India.

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)