Handicrafts constitute an important segment of the de-centralized/unorganized sector of our economy. It is mainly a rural based sector which has its reach in backward and in-accessible areas. Originally, handicraft started as a part time activity in the rural areas, however it has now transformed into a flourishing economic activity due to significant market demand over the years. Handicrafts have big potential as they hold the key for sustaining not only the existing set of millions of artisans, but also for increasingly large number of new entrants in the crafts activity. Presently, handicraft sector is contributing substantially towards employment generation and exports but this sector has suffered due to its unorganized nature along with additional constraints like lack of education of artisans, and poor exposure to new technologies, absence of market intelligence competition from machine made products, lack of access to credit & poor institutional framework..
To promote Handicrafts and address the problems and challenges being faced by the sector, the Office of the Development Commissioner [Handicrafts] under the Ministry of Textiles is undertaking various developmental activities under the umbrella scheme titled “National Handicrafts Development Programme” [NHDP] such as enrolment of artisans, formation of artisans into SHGs/Federations/Societies imparting training to them, conducting workshops to develop new designs, helping them in domestic marketing, promoting exports, R&D activities, creating common infrastructure, providing credit facilities and taking welfare measures for artisans etc. The NHDP scheme was formulated during 12th Plan period and it is being continued up to March 2020 with some modifications.
The NHDP scheme has following components:
• Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana (AHVY)
• Design and Technology Up-Gradation
• Human Resource Development
• Infrastructure and Technology Support
• Marketing Support And Services
• Research and Development
• Direct Benefit to Artisans
Further to scale up the infrastructural and production chain with modernization of machinery and technology at handicrafts clusters a Mega Clusters approach has been adopted. To cater to the needs of Handicrafts Mega Clusters, another scheme titled “Comprehensive Handicrafts Cluster Development Scheme" (CHCDS) is being implemented. Under this scheme, Handicrafts Mega clusters are being established at places where there is large concentration of craft and artisans. Nine Mega Clusters have been established at Narsapur (Andhra Pradesh), Moradabad (Uttar Pradesh), Mirzapur-Bhadohi (Uttar Pradesh), Srinagar (Jammu & Kashmir), 6 Jodhpur (Rajasthan), Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh), Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Kutch (Gujarat) and Jammu & Kashmir. Ten IDPH special projects have been established at Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Varanasi, Karnataka, Telangana and Bihar.
The above two schemes namely NHDP and CHCDS are being implemented by office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) through its 6 Regional Offices and 62 Field offices units [Handicraft Service Center’s] across the country in coordination with State Governments/State Handicrafts Development Corporations, Handicrafts Council, NGOs and other institutions involved in handicraft sector.