G20: Making Indian Handicrafts truly global

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By: Dar Javed

India’s G20 Presidency comes at a time when the world is dealing with multiple issues and it is against this backdrop that India, during its presidency, has to now extend its vision on addressing such issues including COVID-19, global debt, addressing food and energy crisis, geopolitical threats, climate crisis, slow Sustainable Development Goals.

As G20 final summit meet is taking place in September of this year and this is an opportunity for India to become both Soft and hard power,it is not just about industrial growth, but about tourism and travel, popularising local handmade things and also cultural diversity as well. More than 200 meetings will be held across 55 locations, culminating with the annual G20 summit on September 9-10.

The Ministry tourism is geared up to put its best foot forward and showcase to the guests the cultural heritage and culinary delights of India. As part of it, G20 delegates will be shown live demonstration of making of local art and crafts by artisans.  Self-reliant villages, community empowerment, encouraging youth entrepreneurship, success stories and models, opportunities and issues in rural tourism were a few key points deliberated during a panel hosted at day 1 of G20 Tourism Working Group Meeting in Gujarat. The Union Tourism Minister GK Reddy also emphasised that travel and tourism must be looked upon as a lever to enable, empower and employ.

The 1st Tourism Working Group Meeting under the G20 chair hosted by the Ministry of Tourism began on February 7 with a panel discussion on ‘Rural Tourism for Community Empowerment and Poverty Alleviation’.  Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, the Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy said that “…the soul of India lives in its villages” and thus by showcasing our villages and their way of life, India’s true spiritual and cultural heritage and natural beauty is being showcased.  Self-reliant villages or ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, a call to become vocal for local products will lead to a self-reliant India. Under the same, the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India for the first time has also come up with a draft on National strategy and roadmap for the development of rural tourism.

This draft, which came up in 2021, focuses on opportunities in rural tourism, how the segment revitalises local art and crafts, redeveloping rural areas and rejuvenating rural life and the interaction of visitors with the communities.

From GulabiMeenakari to Kashmiri carpet, PM Narendra Modi`s gifts to Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau, other G7 leaders showcases India`s rich art and crafts.

Several unique and intricate Indian artefacts and handicrafts have made their way into news headlines since Prime Minister Narendra Modi will showcase the country’s rich cultural heritage by giving these handicrafts as gifts to world leaders who will attend the summit.

Known for his efforts to showcase Indian culture and heritage abroad during his foreign trips, PM Modi’s gesture of selecting handicrafts from many parts of country as Indian gifts for heads of states during  G20 meet provides a fillip to the local artisans and craftsmen and even boost sales domestically .

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with several world leaders during the G20 summit last year. They not only exchanged pleasantries and handshakes but also gifts. The prime minister’s selection of gifts was a showcase of varied traditional art forms of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the host of the G20 summit, received a silver bowl from Surat and Kinnauri shawl from Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur. Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted US President Joe Biden a miniature painting from Kangra. These paintings generally portray ‘Shringar Rasa’ and are made by painters from Himanchal Pradesh using natural colors. The painting given to Biden showed an interaction between Radha and Krishna.

Indian handicrafts are the pinnacle of our country’s extensive cultural diversity and rich heritage. Indian artists create works of art carved into shapes that may be passed down to future generations while preserving the heritage of their homeland, culture, and myth.

The handicraft industry is essential to the Indian economy since it contributes significantly to exports and is one of the primary sources of employment. The state and local clusters contribute substantially to the export of handicrafts.

With more than 7 million regional artists and over 67,000 exporters, including export houses, promoting regional art and craftsmanship in the domestic and international markets, the Indian handicrafts sector is fragmented. G20 is giving a new hope to Handicrafts of India. The UP state government invited the ambassadors of G-20 countries to get a glimpse of the rich heritage and culture of different states, including Haryana, at the Surajkund mela in Faridabad on February. Such events give a glimpse of cultural vibrancy of India.

The crafts sector has the potential to provide a stable employment and income generation opportunity to diverse communities. The craft business is flexible and adaptable to different circumstances and lifestyles, irrespective of the different levels of education. Despite the large production base, the market at international level is still unexplored. India’s share in the world handicraft exports is less than 2%, representing a tremendous growth opportunity. In spite of having diversified products, there are many new market sectors that have yet to be tapped upon.

G20 is an opportunity to give India’s artisans a new hope. The aim must be to channel India’s ancient wisdom and traditional knowledge and capitalize on it to pave the way for a sustainable future. The G20 meetings will witness  a surge in the handicrafts sector due to their cultural and financial values. The events will help in proving a major role in the development of the Indian economy as it is one of the largest employment generators and accounts for a significant share in the country’s exports, thus bringing in foreign exchange.

Writer is a research Scholar and writes on polity,governance,art and craft. He is pursuing his research on Peace Initiatives in Kashmir ([email protected])


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