CSR for Sustainable Livelihood: A Case Study of Training in Handicrafts for Primitive Tribal Groups in Jharkhand


By Ranjana Agarwal, Manish Pruthi, Pallavi Kumar and Pawan Lodhi

Tribals constitute around 28 % of total population of the state of Jharkhand. 9 tribes have been identified as primitive tribal groups (PTGs) which are at a much lower level of development. Finding Sustainable livelihood options is a one major issue affecting these groups. Training in handicrafts is an integral part of CSR activities as it leads to sustainable livelihood. The tribals have the inherent art of rope making, basket making and weaving.

One option for livelihood is handiccsr in jharkhandrafts, which holds great potential but has to be redesigned as per modern day requirements by giving training.

A research study was conducted by a team from IMT Ghaziabad to study Sustainable livelihood options for Primitive Tribal Groups in Jharkhand’ (1) June 2012.

They surveyed 9 villages in block Patamda in East Singhbhum near Jamshedpur and Nimdih block of Saraikela district.  2 PTG, Savars and Birhors were the focus of study. A study report was prepared to suggest ideas for bringing sustainability of livelihood options. A Short documentary, AAROHAN, was also prepared highlighting the key issues being faced by PTG. Observations, Questionnaires and interviews were used to collect data.

As part of the study, different NGOs were studied in Jharkhand which are working on handicrafts training particularly emphasizing on their marketing methods and practices. The research team suggested that the IAP model under Planning Commission should be implemented with certain changes as this was considered the best model for CSR.

This article describes the main features of IAP model. (Other models studied were Kalamandir, Tata Steel, Bharat Sevashram and Ambalica. Based on parameters of wholly involving the community, sustainability and opportunity, the IAP model considered as the best model for CSR)  Livelihood Options as Handicrafts for Primitive tribal groups Savar are primitive tribes in Eastern India mainly residing in Jharkhand. Their main economic activities are basketry, collection of minor forest produce from forest, lac cultivation and agriculture. Their total population in Jharkhand as per Census 2001 is 3014.

As part of livelihood options, Savars were given training in making handicraft items. The major focus of the training programme aims at creating marketable handicrafts based on tribals’ inherent art and culture. These handicrafts, if adapted to modern designs, have huge perceived value and utility. The training is given in making goods based using “Kasi Grass” (an indigenous grass) and “Bamboo” as raw material which is found in abundance in this region.

Issues of Sustainability in Handicraft Training

The main issue lies in handicrafts training lies in developing a sustainable business model. The whole process of developing full-fledged sustainable handicrafts business can be divided into three parts, viz. Training, Developing and Sustaining.

Several issues need to be addressed regarding a fully sustainable business model. There is a need to regulate the supply chain. Marketing of the goods is also a problem. Local Managers need to be developed. There is a need to make marketable products which have utility and high perceived value. The tribals are short-sighted and could visualise only the immediate need and presently they are highly influenced by substance abuse. Special care should be taken in the training to mould their lifestyle in a way that they can appreciate the importance of wellbeing and have a longer perspective in terms of need satisfaction and reach prosperity.

Training Module for Savars

The training given to these PTG people was started with Bharat Seva Ashram Sangh. It was taken over by an NGO named Ambalica. This training was given to them to refine and modernise their primitive art for  livelihood options. The effectiveness of the training program is a must for its implementation on real grounds. The training given by these was again replicated by Planning Commission of India under its pilot training program called as Integrated Action Planning to hone those skills. This would give them an effective training so that the products that are made can be sold to national and international markets. A designer from NIFT was hired to give training as per modern day requirements.

The aim of the IAP  model being proposed is to:

Involve the whole tribal community and preserving their ethnic identity keeping in mind the objective of inclusive growth.

Make system stable and self-sustainable without influence of any outside body.

Make sure the profits earned goes back to tribal society and for their advancement to further enhance their growth.

Integrated Action Plan

In February 2009, the Indian Central government announced a new nationwide initiative, to be called the “Integrated Action Plan” (IAP) for broad, co-ordinated operations aimed at dealing with the Naxalite problem in all affected states, namely (Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal). Importantly, this plan included funding for grass-roots economic development projects in Naxalite affected areas, as well as increased special police funding for better containment and reduction of Naxalite influence in these areas. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naxalite, http://pcserver.nic.in/iapmis/)

A Committee headed by District Collector/District Magistrate and consisting of the Superintendent of Police of the District and the District Forest Officer will be responsible for implementation of this scheme.

Design Enhancement and Development Training under Integrated Action Planning (IAP)

The training named as “Design Enhancement and Development Training” started in an area of Nimdih in batches under Integrated Action Planning (IAP) by Planning Commission. This is a pilot training module  for Sabars which trains around 168 tribal people in handicrafts made from kasigrass and bamboo. The Raw Material Bamboo is  around Rs. 100 per stick whereas Kasi grass is obtained from the forest for free. The USP is Kasi grass which is a GI, combining it with bamboo to create a unique product.

The training was held in 3 batches.
1st Module – 12 March, 2012 to 12 June, 2012 of 55 PTG people. Out of which 20 work on Bamboo craft and 35 work on Kasi grass handicraft.

2nd Module – 4 May, 2012 to 4 August, 2012 of 62 PTG people.  Out of which 20 work on Bamboo craft and 42 work on Kasi grass handicraft.

3rd Module – 4 May, 2012 to 4 August, 2012 of 61 PTG people.  Out of which 20 work on Bamboo craft and 41 work on Kasi grass handicraft.

The compensation provided during training is 120 INR, with free food (lunch, two time snacks with tea), travel facility between home and training centre. Medical facility is also available at the training centre. The timings are in the morning from 8AM to 5 PM. They can bring along their children. The money goes directly into bank accounts and money is paid on a weekly basis.

The project is government funded and there is no problem of man power availability. Steps are being taken to make this system self-sustainable by creating proper supply chain for its marketable products.  

There is a co-ordinator which helps them in availability of raw material and caters to their problems. There is a tailor which makes bags out of Kasi grass products and completes the product.  

Training was given in making around 120 products. Some of the products developed are as follows:
1. Show pieces (peacock, mask)  2. Night lamp 3. Table lamp  4. Wooden clock 5. Bags   6. Hats
7. Pots  8. Hand fans   9. Tea plates  10. Optical cases  11. Wooden Cups 12. Boxes
13. Table 14. Pen stand  15. File folder

The Costing  of goods is  based on 3 parameters: Raw material (negligible), Man power (Rs. 120 per day) and Profit margin (10-15% or perceived value).

The designer takes care of designing, training & also educates the people about  social aspects as importance of saving money and  health care. He plays a significant role in  educating them about their work and benefits from work.

Results of IAP training
The Sabars were able to make goods as desired by consumers as per modern requirements. About Rs 120,000 worth of goods were sold in exhibitions held in Delhi Haat (October 2012) and IITF (Nov 2013).

There are plans to develop a craft centre which would support grass craft, handloom and terracotta. One objective of the training programme is to develop managers from local people to make the whole programme self sustainable. This programme will leads to Elimination of middle man as the middle man will be someone who is one amongst them.

After the training is complete, they are planning to pay them from profit share as well.  Small orders are coming up from organizations like IMAP, novelty products. Currently they are targeting domestic markets. Their target market is melas, trade fairs, exhibitons & workshops since their production base is not huge.

The products are sold with a brand name to other brands and markets. With the increase in human capital and resources, the programme can then explore different marketing platforms and avenues, such as the satisfying institutional needs for various Corporate gifting purposes, Brand House such as FabIndia, chain of hotels and capitalizing on various NGO’s and Government’s marketing platforms as in Trade fairs and Emporiums. Setting up retail stores and venturing into online sales through Ecommerce and tie ins with other websites in near time and future shall further foster growth and development. As of now, the IAP’s model focuses on sustainability of the business model.

This programme was well received by the PTGs. They are in favour of this programme as cash realisation is weekly. It is seen that tribals do not want to work in programmes that  demands the product on consignment basis. In consignment basis, payments are not made immediately & if the products are  not sold they are returned back.  The  IAP programme makes payment immediately & they don’t want to receive the products back if not sold.


As the training is still being provided, the entire programme is at a very nascent stage hence the marketable products can be produced and procured only in quantities sufficing for individual or retail sales. Slowly the production base can be expanded and extended after the sales in the trades, fairs, small scale exhibitions turn to be commercially viable and the flow of profits are stable as an on-going source of income. Over time, this training progamme has the potential to become a fully sustainable business model for primitive tribal groups.

The IAP programme addresses the issues faced by primitive tribals. It is a  holistic programme which with the aim to achieve overall development of society.

This model if successful, will make sure the whole community is included in the system and all the revenue generated goes back for their development. This will help in making their handicraft livelihood option sustainable and helping in preserving their distinct culture and ethnic identity.

( Author s : Dr. Ranjana Agarwal is Faculty of Economics, IMT Ghaziabad. Manish Pruthi, Pawan Lodhi and Pallavi Kumar are students of PGDBM, IMT Ghaziabad, Class of 2011-13, who all worked in the project. Manish Pruthi is Assistant Manager, HR Dr. Reddy’s Labs. Pallavi is Management trainee at Michelin India Tyres Pvt Ltd. Pawan is  Management trainee  in Marketing department, Tata Steel.)

[1] The project is part of study under CRICKET,  Centre for Research  for Rural Innovation, Capacity Building, Knowledge Management, Entrepreneurship and Technology,  IMT Ghaziabad. The research team consisted of faculty and students of IMT Ghaziabad. The organisations associated with the project are Tribal Cultural Society, Government of Jharkhand, Planning Commission of India and TRIFED.

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