“Indigenous handicrafts and handlooms are a cherished aspect of the Indian way of life. Their extensive range reflects our nation’s diversity and infinite creativity,” President Mukherjee said after presenting the National Awards, Shilp Guru Awards and Sant Kabir Awards to weavers and artisans for 2011.
He said the sector has contributed “substantially to the empowerment of women, the youth and the disabled. A considerable percentage of weavers and artisans belong to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes and religious minorities”.
“The handicrafts and handloom sector not only provides low investment income opportunities for families in the rural sector but also supplements their incomes in the off-season of agriculture. Vitality in this sector checks migration and helps to keep traditional economic relationships intact,” he said.
Mukherjee added that it cannot, however, be ignored that this sector, despite its wide production base, has been constrained in its growth.
“It has been disadvantaged by its inadequate access to credit, dependence on middlemen, inadequate availability of raw material, outdated technology and limited access to markets. The products in this sector remain vulnerable to competition from cheaper imports and machine-made substitutes,” he said.
“These factors need to be addressed urgently, systematically and comprehensively and we must give more attention to development of capacity, skills, designs and infrastructure,” he added.