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Indian Handicrafts and Gifts

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Indian Handicrafts and GiftsIndia is one of the major exporter and supplier of handicrafts and gift products to the world market. The Indian handicrafts industry is highly labor intensive and decentralized, being spread all across the country in rural and urban areas. The sector is considered as the second largest employment-generating sector after agriculture with numerous artisans engaged in craft work on a part-time basis. The industry offers employment to over 6 million artisans, including a large number of women and people from the weaker sections of society.

The present day handicraft tradition of India is a perfect example of assimilation between the traditional designs and modern techniques. The fast growing demand for Indian handicraft and gifts products have made this sector a full-fledged large scale organized industry that is growing day by day.

The rich history of India’s craft tradition has evolved over the centuries offering a legacy of Indian culture promising everything - beauty, dignity, form and style. The variety is comprehensive and ranges from age-old stone carvings to modern handicrafts making use of glass flints and mirrors. The most popular crafts, include metalware, earthenware, pottery, sculpting, woodwork, hand-printed textiles and scarves, embroidered and crocheted goods, shawls, zari products, stone carving and imitation jewelry.

There is a myriad of art and craft traditions in India that depend on social, economic and regional factors. The present status of the sector in India owes much to the rich crafts history and tradition of the past. Majority of the crafts from the past continues to flourish due to their utilitarian characteristics, availability to the common people and popularity in domestic and global markets.

Today, some of the sectors within the craft industry have even become full fledged industries in their own, like - carpet weaving, traditional textile (Banarsi silk sari, Chikankari etc), gem cutting and polishing, jewelry making, the world famous diamond cutting and polishing industry, brassware, jute products, etc. The growth of these industries is due to their ever-increasing demand and the popularity of Indian crafts in the domestic market and overseas. Gems and jewelry, carpet making, metalware, leather products, jute products etc. are some industries, which are growing rapidly.

ExportsGenerally considered a cottage industry, Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Industry has outgrown its image to evolve into a rapid growing industry with a turnover from US $ 1.2 million to US$ 1.9 billion in the last decade. There has been a consistent annual growth rate of more than 15 per cent over a 10-year period, from 3.6% to a respectable 10% share in global handicraft exports. In 2005-2006 the exports of Indian handicrafts has shown an increase of US$ 298.87 million, i.e. the exports increases by 10.02% over the similar period during 2004-2005. Though India's share in international handicrafts market is just about 2 %, the world handicrafts market is estimated to be of the order of US $235 billion. The industry is expected to triple its export turnover to Rs. 39,000 crore by 2009-10 that in turn will also create around 20 lakh new job opportunities.

Top Ten Destinations of India's Export for Handicrafts
Rank Country Name 2000 - 2001 Value (In Million US$) 2001 - 2002 Value (In Million US$) 2002 - 2003 Value (In Million US$)
1 U S A 294.8517 219.176 324.6047
2 U K 61.6174 56.1987 79.1673
3 Germany 37.554 30.4357 47.2585
4 France 31.013 29.4103 37.5341
5 Netherlands 29.243 25.8394 37.3164
6 Spain 21.8287 19.0162 30.4608
7 Italy 27.9376 19.89 24.0536
8 U A E 14.6376 12.205 20.9196
9 Canada 15.2344 12.8124 17.6554
10 Belgium-Luxembourg 9.0019 9.5755 14.5125
Source: DGCI&S

Export Data (Product Wise) 2006-07
According to the provisional data available, the export of handicrafts has shown an increase of Rs. 2761.29 crores, from Rs.14, 526.85 to Rs.17, 288.14 crores (increase of 19.01% in rupees term). In dollar terms, the export figures have shown an increase of US$ 528.70 millions, i.e. the exports increased by 16.11% over the similar period during 2005 - 06. Details are given below –

Items RUPEES IN CR. (April-March) INCREASE IN %
OVER 2005-06
INCREASE IN % OVER 2005-06 2006-07 2005-06
Artmetal Wares 3662.98 4135.06 12.89 827.90 911.60 10.14
Woodwares 853.06 1180.02 38.33 192.76 260.14 34.96
Handprinted Textiles 2053.70 2465.18 20.04 464.07 543.46 17.11
& Scaraves 4711.45 5860.35 1064.62 1291.94
Embroidered & 110.23 216.82 24.39 24.91 47.80 21.35
Crocheted Goods 347.05 392.45 78.42 86.52
Shawls as Artwares 274.86 386.09 96.70 62.11 85.12 91.89
Zari & Zari Goods 2513.52 2652.17 13.08 567.97 584.68 10.33
Imitation Jewelry 14526.85 17288.14 40.47 3282.56 3811.26 37.05
Misc. Handicrafts     5.52     2.94
Total 19.01 16.11

US$ at the rate of Major Importers of Indian Handicraft Products (2004-05) (Source – Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts)

Products Exported
The items, which account for a major share of export turnover, include - art metalware, woodware, hand-printed textiles, hand-knotted and embroidered textiles, leather goods, stoneware, paintings and sculpture, jewelry and antique & collectibles.

With 26 states, 18 languages and more than 1500 dialects, the country offers an enormous range of handicrafts from different states and regions. Major production centers are, in Uttar Pradesh - Moradabad also known as the "Peetalnagari" (City of Brass), Saharanpur for its wooden articles, Ferozabad for Glass. The North-Western state of Rajasthan is known for its Jaipuri quilts, Bagru and Sanganer printed textiles and wooden and wrought iron furniture. The coastal state of Gujarat offers famous embroidered articles from Kutch. Narsapur in Andhra Pradesh is known for its Lace and Lace goods. But all this is only a small portion of total product range. The country offers much more.

Country-Wise Export of Indian Crafts

Major buyers of Indian handicrafts are
Art Metalwares U.S.A., Germany, U.K. & Italy
Wood Wares U.S.A., U.K., Germany & France
Hand Printed & Textiles & Scarves U.S.A., U.K. , Germany & Canada
Embroidered & Crocheted Goods U.S.A., Saudi Arabia, U.K., Germany
Shawls as Artwares Saudi Arabia, U.S.A. Japan & U.K
Zari & Zari goods U.K. U.S.A., Japan & Saudi Arabia
Imitation Jewelry U.S.A., U.K., Saudi Arabia & Germany
Miscellaneous Handicrafts U.S.A., Germany, U.K. & France

Art Concentration Areas
A comprehensive range of handicrafts and gifts products is made all over India. Although it is quite difficult to limit a particular place for a specific craft, the following places are well known for their unique crafts.
Art Metalware Moradabad, Sambhal, Aligarh, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Delhi, Rewari, Thanjavur, Madras, Mandap, Beedar, Kerala, Jagadhari and Jaselmer
Wooden Artwares Saharanpur, Nagina, Hoshiarpor, Srinagar, Amritsar, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jagdalpur, Bangalore, Mysore, Chennapatna, Madras, Kerala & Behrampur (WB)
Hand printed Textiles and Scarves Amroha, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Farrukhabad, Sagru & Sanganer
Embroidered Goods Kutch (Gujarat), Jaisalmer, Baroda, Lucknow, Jodhpur, Agra, Amritsar, Kullu, Dharmshala / Chamba & Srinagar
Marble & Stone Craft Agra, Madras, Baster and Jodhpur
Terracotta Agra, Madras, Baster, and Jodhpur
Zari & Zari Goods Rajasthan, Madras and Baster
Papier Machine Craft Kashmir and Jaipur
Artistic Leather Goods lndore, Kolhapur and Shanti Niketan (WB)
Imitation Jewelry Delhi, Moradabad, Sambhal, Jaipur and Kohima (Tribal)

Future Prospects
Future ProspectsThe dynamism of handicrafts industry in India is unparalleled - be it the traditional Indian arts and crafts or a customized version of an overseas art form. Unlike in the past when the industry was battling to carve a niche in the market, there is a great demand for Indian handicrafts today that is being nurtured by different government and non-governmental organizations.

The sector is economically important from the point of view of low capital investment, high ratio of value addition, and high potential for export and foreign exchange earnings for the country. The export earnings from Indian handicrafts industry for the period 1998-99 amounted to US$ 1.2 billion.

The market is developing due to the huge demand of its products in terms of utility, cost and aesthetics. To centralize and better organize the sector, the government has also initiated the concept of 'Towns of Excellence' that are providing recognition to production areas where the handicrafts have been traditionally developed. Today, there are 35 urban 'Haats' all across the country, that allow for the allotment of built-up stalls to artisans on a fortnightly rotation basis at nominal costs.

The industrial revolution and the increasing productivity had slowed down the growth and the quality of arts and crafts, but for some decades now, the scenario has changed and machine-made products no longer attract the people. Presently handicrafts are being considered as vocational media and it is also opted for style statement and the leisure pursuit. Today, the crafts and craftspeople have a vital role to play in modern India – not just as part of its cultural and tradition, but as part of its economic future.