How Corporates Are Reviving The Lost Crafts Of India

by | Feb 3, 2024 | CSR, Environmental Impact Assessment

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India is known for its beautiful traditions and the talented people who make stunning crafts. These crafts, including intricate jewellery, colourful textiles, and unique pottery, are vital to the country’s heritage. They are pretty and a way for many people to earn a living. Moreover, with these traditional artisans, the corporates are reviving the lost crafts of India, which is a testament to the country’s rich cultural legacy.

But, in recent times, things have become challenging for these skilled artisans. More and more people are buying mass-produced items, making it difficult for traditional craftsmen to sell their creations. However, there is a glimmer of hope. Some big companies are stepping in to help these craftsmen. They are working together to bring back the old crafts and help the artisans earn a living. This blog will explore how these companies make a big difference and save India’s precious cultural heritage.

Understanding the Traditional Crafts

Traditional crafts in India, such as pottery, textiles, and jewellery, are a rich and diverse tapestry of artistry nurtured and passed down through generations for centuries. With these crafts, corporates are reviving the lost crafts of India, serving utilitarian purposes and holding significant cultural and historical importance. Here, we will explore some of India’s most prominent traditional crafts and their cultural and historical significance.

Supporting Traditional Artisans: How Corporates are Reviving the Lost Crafts of India

Pottery

Cultural Significance: Pottery has deep roots in Indian culture and history, with evidence dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization (around 2500-1500 BCE). Each region in India has its unique pottery styles, from the blue pottery of Rajasthan to the terracotta pottery of West Bengal. Pottery, including storage, cooking, and religious rituals, is crucial daily.

Historical Importance: Pottery artefacts have provided valuable insights into ancient Indian civilizations, helping archaeologists understand their lifestyle, artistry, and trade practices.

Textiles

Cultural Significance: Indian textiles are renowned worldwide for their intricate designs and vibrant colours. Various forms of textile arts, such as handloom weaving, block printing, and tie-dye, are deeply ingrained in Indian culture. Traditional clothing like sarees, dhotis, and turbans are iconic examples.

Historical Importance: Textile trade has been a significant part of India’s history, with ancient trade routes like the Silk Road connecting India to the world. The depiction of textiles in ancient Indian art and literature highlights their historical significance.

Jewellery

Cultural Significance: Jewelry making in India is an art form that has been practised for centuries. Different regions have distinct styles, such as the intricate Kundan jewellery of Rajasthan or the temple jewellery of South India. Jewellery holds cultural and religious importance and is often worn during special occasions and festivals.

Historical Importance: Ancient texts like the Arthashastra mention the craftsmanship of jewellery in ancient India, and archaeological discoveries of ancient jewellery showcase its historical value.

Woodwork

Cultural Significance: Woodwork is prevalent across India, with various forms such as carving, inlay work, and lacquer work. Intricately carved wooden furniture, panels, and sculptures are found in homes and temples, showcasing the artistic prowess of craftsmen.

Historical Importance: Historical structures like the intricately carved wooden temples in Himachal Pradesh and Kerala exemplify the historical importance of woodwork in India.

Metal Crafts

Cultural Significance: Metal crafts like brassware, silverware, and barware are highly regarded in India. These crafts produce items ranging from utensils to religious idols. The craftsmanship often incorporates intricate designs and motifs.

Historical Importance: Historical records mention the extensive use of metals in ancient India, and the tradition continues with contemporary metalwork.

Terracotta

Corporates are Reviving the Lost Crafts of India

Cultural Significance: Terracotta, or clay pottery, is a common craft in India. It finds cultural significance in creating sculptures, figurines, and decorative items. Terracotta art often reflects local beliefs and traditions.

Historical Importance: Terracotta artefacts have been discovered in various archaeological sites, shedding light on the cultural practices of ancient India.

These traditional crafts contribute to artisans’ economic livelihood and serve as a tangible link to India’s rich cultural heritage and history. They showcase the creativity, skill, and artistry integral to Indian society for millennia, making them an essential aspect of the nation’s identity and legacy.

Also Read: 10 Environmental CSR Activity Examples Businesses Can Adopt

The Decline of Traditional Crafts

The decline of traditional crafts in India is a complex issue, influenced by various challenges that traditional artisans face. These challenges, including competition and changing consumer preferences, have collectively contributed to these crafts’ dwindling popularity and preservation. However, it’s heartening to see corporates reviving the lost crafts of India and playing a pivotal role in revitalizing these invaluable art forms. Some challenges to declining traditional crafts include:

  • Mass Production and Machine-Made Goods: Traditional artisans often need help to compete with mass-produced, machine-made products that flood the market. These products are usually cheaper and more readily available, making it difficult for artisans to sell their handmade crafts.
  • Contemporary Design Trends: Changing consumer preferences and growing demand for modern designs have decreased interest in traditional crafts. Many artisans need help to adapt their products to suit contemporary tastes.
  • Shifting Consumer Preferences: As urbanization and globalization have taken hold, there is a growing preference for Western-style products and convenience over traditional, handmade crafts. Younger generations may value these crafts less than their predecessors did.
  • Limited Utility: Some traditional crafts, such as intricate handwoven textiles and elaborately carved wooden furniture, are often seen as less practical for daily use than mass-produced alternatives, affecting their demand.
  • Access to Imported Goods: Globalization has made it easier for consumers to access a wide range of imported products. As a result, traditional crafts face stiff competition from cheaper, imported alternatives.
  • Homogenization of Culture: The influx of global products and design influences can lead to a homogenization of culture, eroding the uniqueness and diversity of traditional crafts.
  • Low Income and Uncertainty: Many traditional artisans need help with low-income levels and financial instability due to seasonal demand, lack of market access, and fluctuations in raw material costs. This discourages younger generations from pursuing traditional crafts as a viable livelihood.
  • Lack of Skill Transfer: The skills required for traditional crafts often require years of training and apprenticeship. With limited opportunities for skill transfer, younger generations may not be interested in or capable of carrying on these traditions.
  • Limited Access to Technology: Many artisans need access to modern technology and tools, making their production processes inefficient compared to larger, more technologically advanced manufacturers.
  • Inadequate Infrastructure: Poor infrastructure, including transportation and marketing facilities, makes it difficult for artisans to access markets and sell their products effectively.
  • Inadequate Support: In some cases, government support and policies for traditional crafts may need to be improved, hindering the growth and sustainability of these industries.
  • Lack of Intellectual Property Protection: Traditional artisans often need help with issues related to intellectual property protection, making it easier for others to replicate and profit from their designs without proper compensation.

The challenges faced by traditional artisans in India are multifaceted and interconnected. As a result, many traditional crafts are at risk of fading away. To address this decline, efforts are being made at various levels, including government initiatives, non-profit organizations, and increased consumer awareness. Promoting the cultural and economic value of these crafts, investing in skill development and infrastructure, and encouraging the use of traditional crafts in modern contexts are some of how these challenges can be mitigated and the legacy of traditional crafts preserved for future generations.

Also Read: What Are The Benefits Of CSR To The Environment?

The Role of Corporations

Corporations increasingly recognize the value of traditional crafts and artisans from a cultural and heritage perspective and as opportunities for sustainable business practices and social impact. A notable shift has occurred in how corporates are reviving the lost crafts of India in recent years.

The Role of Corporations

Many corporations have initiated programs to support traditional artisans. These programs often provide financial support, training, and market access for artisans to help them sustain their craft. Corporations are investing in skill development programs, providing artisans with the training to enhance their craft and produce higher-quality products. Corporations facilitate market access for artisans by connecting them with larger customer bases and distribution networks. This helps artisans reach a global audience. These corporations collaborate with artisans to develop unique products combining traditional craftsmanship and modern design. These collaborations create products that appeal to contemporary consumers while preserving traditional techniques. Artisans often need help with marketing and branding. Corporations can partner with artisans to help them market their products effectively, leveraging their resources and expertise in branding and advertising. Corporations can provide artisans access to raw materials, workshops, and technology, enabling them to scale up production and improve quality.

Many corporations embrace ethical and sustainable sourcing principles. They partner with artisans who produce handmade, eco-friendly, and ethically manufactured products, aligning their businesses with socially responsible practices. Corporations increasingly adopt fair trade practices, ensuring that artisans receive fair compensation for their work. This not only benefits artisans but also enhances the reputation of these corporations. Several corporations allocate some CSR budgets to support traditional crafts and artisans. This can involve funding community development projects, building infrastructure, or providing healthcare and education for artisans and their families. Some corporations directly employ artisans or offer them long-term contracts, providing stable income and improving the socio-economic conditions of artisan communities.

Some businesses create dedicated retail spaces or exhibitions to showcase traditional crafts and artisan products. These spaces provide exposure to artisans and their creations. Many corporations have established online platforms that feature artisan-made products, allowing artisans to reach a global customer base. Companies often sponsor or participate in heritage festivals and events celebrating traditional crafts. These events promote cultural preservation and provide a platform for artisans to showcase their work. Some corporations fund research and documentation projects that help preserve the history and heritage associated with traditional crafts.

Companies increasingly recognize the importance of traditional crafts and artisans and take various initiatives to support, collaborate with, and empower these communities. This helps artisans preserve their cultural heritage and creates sustainable economic development and social impact opportunities. Such partnerships between corporations and artisans can be mutually beneficial and contribute to maintaining and revitalizing traditional crafts.

Also Read: Top 10 Environmental CSR Activities By Leading Businesses

Impact on Artisans and Communities

Corporate support and initiatives in collaboration with artisans have significantly positively impacted individual artisans and their communities. The involvement of corporates are reviving the lost crafts of India is evident in these success stories and case studies that illustrate these benefits:

1. FabIndia

FabIndia, a well-known Indian retail chain, has collaborated with traditional artisans for decades. They work with over 55,000 artisans across India, helping them access markets and showcasing their crafts. FabIndia’s partnership has provided a stable source of income for artisans, improved their living standards, and preserved traditional crafts. Artisans and their families have access to healthcare, education, and skill development programs, creating a positive socio-economic impact.

2. Jaipur Rugs

Jaipur Rugs is a company that collaborates with rural artisans in Rajasthan to produce hand-knotted rugs. They provide training, raw materials, and access to global markets. Thousands of artisans, many women, have found employment and economic independence through Jaipur Rugs. The company’s initiatives have empowered women in these communities, improving their social status and financial stability.

3. Péro

Péro, a fashion brand, collaborates with artisans across India to create contemporary clothing using traditional techniques such as hand weaving and hand embroidery. Péro’s collaboration has helped artisans preserve their skills and give them a platform to showcase their craftsmanship on the global stage. This has increased income and opportunities for artisans and contributed to the sustainability of traditional techniques.

4. Nestle’s Nescafe Plan – Coffee Cultivation

Nestle’s Nescafe Plan focuses on supporting coffee farmers in India, many of whom are artisans. They provide training in sustainable farming practices, access to better seeds, and fair pricing. This initiative has improved the livelihoods of coffee artisans and their communities by increasing crop yields and incomes. It has also promoted environmental sustainability in coffee farming.

5. Reliance Foundation’s Craft Initiative

The Reliance Foundation in India has been working with traditional artisans across various states to provide skill development, market access, and infrastructure development. This initiative has empowered artisans by enhancing their craft skills and providing opportunities for financial growth. It has also improved infrastructure in rural areas, contributing to overall community development.

6. Amazon’s Karigar Program

Amazon India’s Karigar program collaborates with traditional artisans and weavers across India to help them sell their products online. This initiative has enabled artisans to access a global customer base, significantly increasing their sales and income. It has also led to the preservation of traditional crafts and the empowerment of artisans and their communities.

Also Read: Evaluating The Impact Of India’s Mandatory CSR Spending Law

Economic and Social Impact

Companies supporting local artisans have a major impact on their lives and lead to social and economic development, as mentioned below:

Income Generation: These initiatives have provided a stable source of income for artisans, reducing their dependence on irregular income sources and improving their economic well-being.

Skill Development: Training and skill development programs have enhanced the expertise of artisans, making their crafts more competitive in the market.

Women Empowerment: Many of these initiatives have empowered women artisans, giving them financial independence and enhancing their social status within their communities.

Community Development: Infrastructure development and community-focused initiatives have improved overall living conditions in artisan communities, including access to education, healthcare, and clean water.

Cultural Preservation: Collaboration with corporations has helped preserve traditional crafts and cultural heritage, passing these skills and traditions to the next generation.

Corporate support for traditional artisans has profoundly impacted both individuals and their communities. These initiatives have provided economic opportunities and contributed to preserving cultural heritage, women’s empowerment, and overall community development. By promoting sustainable and ethical practices, corporations play a crucial role in ensuring the continued vitality of traditional crafts and artisan communities in India.

Also Read: CSR And Women’s Empowerment: Indian Companies Leading The Way

Preserving Cultural Heritage: How Corporates are Reviving the Lost Crafts of India

Corporate support for traditional crafts in India goes beyond economic benefits; it plays a vital role in preserving its rich cultural heritage. Here’s how corporate initiatives contribute to cultural preservation and the importance of sustainable practices in this context:

  • Traditional crafts are deeply intertwined with the cultural heritage of India. Corporations help ensure that ancient techniques, designs, and knowledge are passed down to the next generation by supporting artisans and their crafts.
  • Collaborations between corporations and artisans often result in products that combine traditional craftsmanship with contemporary design. This keeps traditional designs alive and makes them relevant to modern consumers.
  • Due to a lack of demand, many traditional crafts were on the verge of extinction. Corporate support revives these crafts, preserving their unique cultural expressions.
  • Traditional crafts often use natural materials and sustainable production processes. Corporations encourage sustainable and eco-friendly practices by promoting these crafts, contributing to environmental conservation.
  • Corporations that engage in ethical and sustainable sourcing ensure that raw materials are harvested or produced in a manner that does not harm the environment, further aligning with the preservation of nature.
  • Collaborations with artisans often emphasize fair wages and ethical labour practices. This helps protect the rights and well-being of the artisans, contributing to social sustainability.
  • Traditional crafts are integral to India’s cultural identity. They represent the country’s diversity, with each region having unique crafts. Corporate support helps maintain and celebrate this cultural diversity.
  • Traditional crafts often incorporate stories, myths, and rituals. Corporations also preserve the narratives and traditions accompanying them by preserving these crafts.
  • Corporate initiatives often extend beyond individual artisans to entire communities. Corporations preserve collective cultural knowledge and practices by uplifting these communities economically and socially.
  • Corporations that sponsor heritage festivals and exhibitions provide platforms for artisans to showcase their work, reinforcing the importance of these crafts in the broader cultural context.
  • Traditional crafts are essential to India’s tourism industry. Sustainable practices ensure that tourists can engage with authentic, culturally significant products, enriching their experience and contributing to preserving these crafts.

Corporate support for traditional crafts in India is a multifaceted endeavour that economically benefits artisans and their communities and is crucial in preserving the country’s cultural heritage. By promoting sustainable practices and ethical sourcing, corporations help ensure that these crafts continue to thrive for generations, safeguarding India’s unique cultural identity and the stories, traditions, and skills that define it.

Also Read: Collaborative CSR In India: How Start-Ups & Corporates Are Partnering For Sustainable Impact

Conclusion

Corporate support is like a big helping hand for the people who make handmade clothes, pottery, and jewelry in India. These things are extraordinary because they carry India’s history and culture. When big companies and businesses help these people, it means they can keep doing their exceptional work, and it also means they can make a good living from it. This is not just about money; it’s about keeping India’s traditions alive.

As regular shoppers, we can also play a part. When we buy things, we should pick hand-made items and create them fairly and kindly. This helps the people who make them and keeps the special traditions and stories alive. So, by choosing these special things, we help keep India’s culture and traditions alive for the future. It’s a small thing we can do that makes a big difference.

Also Read: The Evolution Of CSR Policies In India: From Philanthropy To Sustainable Development

 

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