On the Importance of Handicrafts in an Economy

On the Importance of Handicrafts in an Economy
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The term handicraft includes a wide range of articles. The informal sector which take account of handicrafts has been described by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as a part of economic activity characterized by certain features like dependence on local available resources and skills, household or family ownership, small-scale set-ups, labour-intensive, non-scientific or traditional technology, knowledge or skills by and large learned external to the formal school system, free and competitive market where prices are determined by the market forces of demand and supply. ‘‘ Handicrafts are those artisanal products which are produced by artisanal, either completely by hand or with the help of hand tools or even mechanical means as long as the direct manual contribution of the artisan remains the most substantial component of finished product” (UNESCO, 1997).

The superior, distinctive, and extraordinary nature of the artisanal products springs from the idiosyncratic features which can be aesthetic, utilitarian, creative, culturally attached, functional, traditional, religiously and socially representative and therefore important.

The handicraft sector is a significant and prolific cum dynamic one and is regarded as an export article of trade for many developing countries. In the present day, in many developing nations, it is the major breadwinner and supplier of gainful employment. Furthermore, it is a major contributor to the GNP per capita. More explicitly, handicrafts have been recognized as the second largest rural employment after agriculture in many regions of the world. Handicrafts have many attributes like high employment potential, low per capita investment, and high-value addition, the participation of women and weaker sections of the society, environmentally friendly, and the prospects to fuel artistic, innovative and creative talents. These attributes make this sector one of the most favored and preferred sectors in the process of economic growth and development (Khan & Amir, 2013).

In the age of globalization, as national economies have integrated with the world , goods are becoming more and more commercialized and artisans find their products competing in the international markets with goods from all over the world. Handicraft production crosses all sectors of the modern global economy. The post-industrial artisan production has flourished because handcrafted products offer distinct benefits with minimal start-up capital, flexible working hours, the facility and ability to work at home, self-determination and choice to manage one’s own business unlike many other forms of employment, and enable a degree of labor self-sufficiency for those who have limited asses to the cash-based economy.

As a means of living, handicrafts provide an ideal opportunity for innovative, budding, and skilful entrepreneurs. Moreover, it offers opportunities for seasonal employment, where the workload befalls only during the certain time period of the year, and small output. It is often a default business for producers who have limited other options for employment.

Handicrafts have both a cultural as well as an economic significance. The former leads to the preservation of heritage, skill and art development. While as the latter lies in its creation of employment, high-value addition, low capital use and export potentiality.

The state of Jammu & Kashmir is best known for its cultural heritage, rich art and crafts which have provided an opportunity for the convergence of Iranian and indigenous thought, art, and culture. The geographical location of the valley of Kashmir fits for handicrafts for the reason that local people prefer to stay at home due to long winters. It was during the reign of Sultan Zain-Ul-Abidin, popularly known as Bud Shah that handicrafts were made known to Kashmiris. The Sultan hired skilled craftsman from central Asia to train local populaces in a number of handicrafts which were till then completely unknown to the people of the region. Meanwhile, the historical bequests sustained and got encouragement and sponsorship from different rulers, tourists, as a consequence, art and skill keep on passing from one generation to another generation.

Kashmir is the abode to numerous artefacts in which shawls, woodcraft items, paper machie, pashminas, mufflers, headscarves, stoles, Kani shawls, Kashmir walnut woodcarving, Khatamband, hand-knitted carpets, Kashmir Sozni crafts are worth mentioning that drive the path of economic growth and development of the state. The contribution of the handicrafts sector to the Jammu and Kashmir State economy has shown a declining trend for a quite long period of time which requires a reverse trend so that handicraft industry can be improved economically. In order to bring efficiency in the handicrafts market and increase the share of handicraft exports in the market, international market, and export promotion measures is an essential condition. The government and the stakeholders should highlight the importance of the export-led growth theory in the growth and development of the business industry , in general, and handicrafts, in particular. The research studies in the handicrafts need to be extended in the area of the importance of export promotion measures in the international trade in order to create and sustain high-quality performance of handicrafts in the market.

Ajay Tamta. N.d. Indian Textile & Handicrafts Industry is the Largest Employment Generator after Agri. Retrieved from http://exhibitionshowcase.com/indian-textile-handicrafts-industry-largest-employment-generator-agri-ajay-tamta/
Digest of Statistics 2015-16.Retrieved fromhttp://ecostatjk.nic.in/digeststat/pdf%20digest%20of%20stat%2015-16.pdf.
Richard, N. (2007). Handicrafts and Employment Generation for the Poorest Youth and Women. Policy Paper for UNESCO Programme on Poverty Reduction, No. 17, Pp. 3-40.
UNESCO. (1997). International. Symposium on “Craftsand the International Market: Trade and Customs Codification”Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001114/111488eo.pdf
Waqar Ahmad Khan and Zeeshan Amir. (2013). Study of Handicraft Marketing Strategies of Artisans in Uttar Pradesh and Its Implications: Research Journal of Management Sciences. Vol. 2(2), 23-26.

The author is a Research Scholar at the Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir, an Academic Counsellor, IGNOU STUDY CENTRE 1209,S.P. College, Srinagar and Editor in EPH – International Journal of Business and Management Science & Asian Journal of Managerial Science. She is also an Ezine Articles Expert Author, an IJRULA title awards, 2018 winner (Best Researcher, 2018) and can be reached at: qadribinish@gmail.com