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Skill development without artisan welfare was bound to fail

The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has proved to be a poor alternative to the Ministry of Artisans and Household Manufacturing that was recommended by an inter-ministry task group in 2005, writes P.N. Sankaran

The household and artisanal sectors form the backbone of India’s socio-economic fabric. Artisans consist of carpenters, blacksmiths, masons, stoneworkers, weavers, cobblers, tanners, potters, broom-makers, oilmen, tailors, bamboo and cane workers, and coir and coir-rope makers. Among them, carpenters and blacksmiths comprise the top layer of the village economy because their services are indispensable. A highly reputed anthropologist, Jan Brouwer, in his book The Makers of the World – Caste, Craft, and Mind of South Indian Artisans (Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1995), captures the tradition and heritage of the artisans amazingly. Traditionally, artisans and household manufacturers have belonged to the disadvantaged strata of society – the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and minority communities. To improve their living standards, it is imperative that their primary source of livelihood be firmly placed on a sustainable growth trajectory. However, in reality, the artisan and household manufacturing sector is unable to thrive on its own in an environment of increasing deregulation and globalization. Hence, sector-wide constraints of inadequate technology, improper marketing, and institutional credit must be addressed. Therefore, rationalization of the related institutional architecture is the most transformative approach towards strengthening the artisanal and household sectors. One important proposal in the above perspective was made in a report of the Planning Commission called the IMG (2005), that is, Report of the inter-ministry task group on technological, investment and marketing support for household and artisanal manufacturing.



About The Author

P.N. Sankaran

Sankaran is a development economist and former head of Department of Economics, University College, Thiruvananthapuram. Sankaran was the chairperson of the commission set up by the Government of Kerala in 2012 to study the problems faced by the members of the Vishwakarma community, who have traditionally been artisans. He has contributed a chapter titled 'Traditional Artisans as Stakeholders in CSR: A Rehabilitation Perspective in the Indian Context', in the book 'Redefining Corporate Social Responsibility' (Developments in Corporate Governance and Responsibility, Volume 13) published in 2018 by Emerald Publishing (UK)