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Friday, 1 April 2016

Plight of Artists

History of art and craft in India is dates back to Indus valley civilization which is more than 5000 years old. Handicrafts are the true representation of changes in lifestyle and culture, India has witnessed, throughout centuries. Handicraft from various region are as diverse as the cultural diversity of India.  Artist Community, that enjoyed royal patronage once, is now living in a depleted condition.  Commencement of cheap and readily available machine made goods were a huge blow to handicraft sector.
Despite being one of major contributor to country’s economy, Handicraft sector is highly decentralized and disorganized. As per data from “Working group report on Handicrafts for the 12th Five Year Plan”, it is estimated that India has 74.17 lakh individuals employed in the sector (in 2010-11) and export worth Rs. 10,000 Cr. Even though, now people have started appreciating and buying handmade art-pieces, but the art and artist are disappearing fast. The reason being, strenuous work pattern, time taken to complete the piece and poor payment. Most of them are not even able to earn more than 30k-40K per annum. Despite of multiple steps taken by Government, to improve conditions of Handicraft and Handloom artists, the condition is far from better.
Only handful of those recognized as awardees or master-craftsmen, obtain maximum benefit from the aids or facilities provided by Government while most still continue living an unknown life. Various government run schemes, for upliftment, are focused on recognized artists. A large number still are not benefited from these schemes and have poor market penetration.
The insights provided, show that most of these unknown artists have to take up some other work also to earn their livelihood. The hands that have got the power to create something beautiful, farmers or as employees of middleman and other “known” artist. They still lack proper access to market. Finally, they have either to settle down selling their work, at much lower price than its market value, to middlemen or other known artists who have easy market access or have to work as bonded labourers .
In its quest to such lesser known or unknown artists, Shilphaat.com came across many such artist who have taken up the art just for their passion or to keep their lineage alive. Most of them have other profession also to support their family needs.