The Declining Legacy of India – Rural Artisans: Report

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Dasra’s report that highlights the state of craftspeople in India and also innovative solutions that can provide sustainable livelihoods

INDIACSR News Network

MUMBAI: Dasra’s ‘Crafting a Livelihood’ report brings to the fore some stark realities about the state of rural artisans and craftspeople in the country. The research report outlines the current landscape in India, challenges and opportunities, roles of various stakeholders – government, corporates, social businesses, non-profits – and best practices currently implemented within this space.

Craftspeople or artisans are the backbone of the non-farm rural Indian economy, with an estimated 7 million artisans according to official figures (and upto 200 million artisans according to other sources) engaged in craft production to earn a livelihood. However, they are a slowly perishing breed. According to UN, over the past 30 years, the number of Indian artisans has decreased by 30%.

Crafting a Livelihood report released by Dasra, a leading philanthropic foundation, states some interesting findings as below:

The global market for handicrafts is USD 400 billion with India’s share below 2%, representing a tremendous growth opportunity.

The crafts sector is highly unorganized and informal with 42% artisans working out of their homes
Crafts is a small scale industry with 39% artisans incurring production expenditure of less than INR 12,000/ USD 215 per year.

50% of household heads of craft producing families have no education with 90% of the women in these families being completely uneducated.

Craft is a family activity as 76% of them attribute their profession to traditions and legacy.

Propelled by loss of markets, declining skills and difficulty catering to new markets, a large number of artisans have moved to urban centres in search of a low, unskilled unemployment in the industry. The Indian government, private sector and non-profits are each involved in the sector but their roles have evolved in silos with little specialization and much duplication.

Crafts are a powerful tool to create catalytic impact on the lives of women, marginalized communities and social outcomes of entire families engaged in the sector. To realize the full potential of the crafts sector, the gaps, overlaps and challenges in the value chain must be overcome to create an ecosystem that enables crafts to thrive. Dasra has reviewed over 250 non-profits to identify 11 promising and innovative organizations which have the most potential for scale and impact. ‘Dasra Giving Circles’ provide the unique opportunity to fund such organizations and create a sustainable impact.

Philanthropy has a key role to play in supporting the often ignored craftspeople of India. Investing in enhancing artisan incomes will not only provide greater livelihood opportunities to millions, but also ensure the longevity and relevance of Indian traditions and culture.

Founded in 1999, Dasra, which means ‘enlightened giving’ in Sanskrit, has grown to become India’s leading strategic philanthropy foundation. Dasra’s success lies in its unique ability to build an ecosystem that brings together multiple stakeholders and empowers them with knowledge, skills and networks to create large scale change in any sector. Over the past 13 years, Dasra has strengthened the growth plans of more than 200 successful non profits and social businesses, engaged with and educated over 250 philanthropists on strategic philanthropy, enabled over INR 100 crore in funding to social entrepreneurs and published 9 research reports in education, health and livelihoods. 

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