Gist of Kurukshetra May 2023 Issue: Rural Crafts

Kurukshetra Magazine is a vital source of study material for the UPSC IAS exam. It is a monthly magazine that gives information about important government schemes and programmes in various sectors. Kurukshetra is an authentic source of information for the UPSC Exam. Here, we provide the Gist of Kurukshetra, exclusively for the IAS Exam.


1. Potential of Rural Crafts
2. Rural Crafts through Ritualistic and Indigenous Traditions
3. Betting Big on Bamboo
4. J&K Changing Dynamics of Handicrafts Sector
5. Rural Crafts for Livelihood
6. Fostering Rural Crafts through One District One Product
7. Promotion and Development of Handloom and Handicraft Sector

Chapter 1: Potential of Rural Crafts


  • India has a rich tradition of crafts that is inherited from generation to generation. 
  • Rural crafts are also a source of livelihood for many communities in Indian villages. 

Benefits of Rural Crafts

  • They provide skill development and entrepreneurship opportunities, thereby increasing income and employment.
  • They contribute significantly to the rural economy. It also diversifies the source of income for people in rural areas.
  • Rural crafts also attract tourists to India. They encourage rural tourism.
  • It will promote rural tourism, which in turn would promote sustainable development by promoting traditional skills, supporting local agriculture and food production, and encouraging eco-tourism activities.
  • It preserves India’s rich culture and heritage.
  • It can further reduce migration from rural to urban areas.
  • They support the “Made in India” ideology and “Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Value”.
  • They also support exports. For instance, exports of handicrafts increased from Rs. 19171 crore in 2019-20 to Rs. 20151 crore in 2020-21.

Government Initiatives

  • The Government of India has initiated a rural development plan called One District One Product (ODOP) to promote traditional handicraft products in every district of India.
    • It aims to create employment opportunities and enhance the income of rural artisans and entrepreneurs while preserving traditional crafts.
  • Another programme is Linking Textile with Tourism where the government has identified eight craft villages across the country to promote craft and tourism at a single location.
    • Its aim is to bring together India’s heritage through the growing tourism industry.
image 41

Tourism Statistics for India

  • Moreover, organizations/agencies like Tribes India, Crafts Council of India, Saras (by Ministry of Rural Development), and state emporiums have raised awareness, given the cottage industry bigger markets, and helped them in addressing the present demands.
  • Some of the examples of events organized by the government to promote rural crafts are:
    • Saras Aajeevika Mela: It is an annual event to promote rural livelihoods and products.
    • Surajkund Crafts Mela: It provides a platform for artisans, craftsmen, and performers to display their skills and creations.
    • Aadi Mahotsav: It celebrates the spirit of tribal culture.
  • The government is also boosting handicraft export through the export promotion council, international trade fairs, and exhibitions.
  • It also provides financial assistance to artisans and craftsmen.

Also read: Aadi Mahotsav

  • Ekta Mall at Statue of Unity, Kevadia, Gujarat is a great initiative in promoting rural craft.
  • It offers a platform for local artisans and craftsmen to showcase their skills and sell their products.
  • It encourages entrepreneurship among local artisans and attracts tourists and visitors.
  • This approach can be emulated in other places also.
  • The United Nations World Tourism Organization chose Telangana’s Pochampally as the top tourist destination.
  • The village is famous for the handloom industry, especially Pochampally Sarees also called Ikat Sarees.
  • The Pochampally Handloom Park was established in 2018. It attracts tourists and showcases the history and development of the industry.

Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat

  • Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat essentially promotes intercultural exchanges and helps travellers in understanding rural India’s diversity and rich cultural traditions.

For more information, read here: AIR Spotlight – Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat


The G20 Presidency of India can further help in providing better access to international markets. The government should reduce trade barriers, simplify customs procedures, and provide financial assistance to artisans and craftsmen.

Chapter 2: Rural Crafts through Ritualistic and Indigenous Traditions


  • Rural crafts have a strong cultural and religious significance and are rooted in the traditions of communities.
  • They have a long and rich history dating back thousands of years. For instance, the earliest evidence of rural crafts is from the Indus Valley civilization, where products associated with pottery, weaving, and metalworking were found.
  • In Mauryan Empire, textiles were promoted with specialized workshops for weaving and dyeing fabrics.

Shadow Puppetry

  • Tholpavakoothu and Tholu Bommalata are traditional forms of shadow puppetry that originated in South India.
    • They use leather puppets that are intricately carved and painted.
image 42

Source: The Times of India

  • Puppetry is also an integral part of traditions in other parts of India like Kathputli in Rajasthan.


  • Kondapalli toys are believed to have originated in the Vijaynagar empire.
    • The Aryakshatriya community known for their wood carving skills created Kondapalli dolls.
    • During the festival of Sankranti, Kondapalli dolls are used to create a display called Bommala Kovulu.

Kondapalli Toys

image 43

Source: The Times of India

Rituals and Traditions in Art and Craft

  • Many communities observe certain preparatory rituals before beginning any craftwork. For instance,
    • Kutchi artisans in Gujarat follow the ‘Gadhvi’ tradition and light a lamp in their workshop singing folk songs and praying for protection and blessings.
    • Madhubani painters in Bihar paint only during the waxing phase of the moon.
    • Before beginning the Kalamkari art of Andhra Pradesh, the artisans fast and purify themselves through ritual bathing.
  • Rural crafts also hold importance in places of worship.
  • In Sikhism, making the Chauri is an important craft. It is used to fan the Guru Granth Sahib as a sign of respect and devotion.
  • In Jainism, intricate rangolis are highly valued.

Also read: Madhubani Paintings


The evolution of crafts reflects the cultural, social and economic changes that have occurred over time. However, many crafts face challenges like a lack of recognition, declining demands, and competition from mass-produced goods. Several organizations along with the government are trying to preserve and promote crafts in India.

Chapter 3: Betting Big on Bamboo


  • Bamboo is green gold and has unlimited potential for usage and the creation of eco-friendly products.
  • It should be noted that there is a great demand for unique bamboo products and only linkages between producers, artisans, marketers, and manufacturers need to be strengthened to ensure a sustainable value chain.

Bamboo: Green Gold

  • Bamboo is used to make toothbrushes, tableware, furniture, biomass pellets, etc.
  • They are eco-friendly and affordable alternatives to plastic, wood, and even aluminium.
  • It has excellent structural properties with minimum ecological impacts. It is considered the building material of the future.
  • It is a durable and high-quality wood substitute.

India’s Bamboo Wealth

  • India’s bamboo wealth is the second largest in the world with approximately 136 species spread across nearly 14 million hectares.
  • According to the Forest Survey of India estimates (2021), Madhya Pradesh has the maximum bamboo-bearing area followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Odisha.
  • According to National Bamboo Mission, the annual bamboo production in India is 14.6 million tonnes and annual yield varies from 1 to 3 tonnes per ha.
  • India exports bamboo and bamboo products to more than 154 countries.
  • During 2020-21 (April to November), India exported bamboo worth $ 140.47 million and imported $ 107 million.
  • India is a net importer of bamboo.
  • The bamboo industry in India is one of the oldest traditional cottage industries in India, Moreover, women work not only as the labour force in the micro and small industries but also are artisans.

National Bamboo Mission:

  • The Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare is implementing the re-structured National Bamboo Mission (NBM) since 2018-19.
  • It aims to develop complete value chains of the bamboo sector to link growers with consumers including plantation, collection, processing, marketing, skill development, and brand building.
  • It is implemented through State Bamboo Missions and Bamboo Technology Support Groups.
  • The government has also approved externally aided projects for the development of the bamboo sector in North East region.
  • NBM has helped establish 416 product development and processing units for developing the bamboo value chain.
  • Around 12119 persons have been trained from 2018-19 to 2022-23.
  • Moreover, Self-Help Groups (SHGs) of women that are traditionally involved in making bamboo products are given priority in skill enhancement and micro-loans disbursal.
  • NBM has helped in the bamboo plantation in non-forest farmlands, community lands, arable wastelands, etc.

For more information, read here: National Bamboo Mission

Bamboo Products to National and Global Markets

  • Reaching out to people in urban centres, especially outside India is a major challenge for rural people.
  • The government is promoting the use of and portals for marketing and procurement of bamboo products.
  • More than 20 Bamboo Mandis have been approved for the promotion and e-trading of bamboo.
  • Several states have also launched dedicated websites for online sales of bamboo products.
  • Other opportunities in international markets include bamboo charcoal which has a high demand hovering at $1.5-2 billion. It is growing at the rate of 6% per annum.
  • It can also be used in soil nutrition and as a raw material for Activated Charcoal.

Chapter 4: J&K Changing Dynamics of Handicrafts Sector


  • Jammu and Kashmir is famous for traditional crafts like shawl, weaving, carpets, papier mache, and copperware.
  • The handicrafts sector is a long and integral part of the culture and economy of J&K.
  • It is home to the most unique and finest artisans that also provide significant employment opportunities.
  • It should be noted that the handicraft sector relies on human labour as the products are usually crafted using hands.
  • Handmade items from Kashmir have gained appreciation from all across the world.

Historical Background

  • Shahi Hamdan, a Persian Sufi Saint of the 14th century is credited for making a substantial contribution to the development of handicrafts in J&K.
  • He travelled to Kashmir and brought with him various skilled craftsmen from Persia, who introduced new techniques and designs to local artisans.
  • The innovative approaches to calligraphy, wood carving, carpet weaving, metalworks, etc. are inspired by Persia.
  • During the Mughal era, J&K was a significant hub for manufacturing shawls. Mughals were great patrons of art and craft. 

Also read: UPSC Exam Preparation-Gist of Yojana April 2019 Issue: Handicrafts and Textiles of India

Present Status of Handicraft Industry in Jammu and Kashmir

  • The handicraft and handloom industry in Jammu and Kashmir is significantly impacted by globalization.
  • It has reached a global audience.
  • The government is taking several initiatives to support artisans.
  • There is also increasing use of technology in the sector. Many artisans use online platforms to sell their products and reach a wider audience.
  • The government introduced the “Wool Processing, Handloom, and Handicraft Policy 2020” for the holistic development of the sector.
    • It aims to implement a multi-faceted approach for the promotion of craft, availability of raw materials, training, infrastructure development, and marketing.
    • It also launches several innovative programmes to assist artisans.
  • The Geographical Indication (G.I.) Act was introduced for the purpose of preventing cheap machine-made-fakes from genuine handicraft products. It helps in verifying the authenticity of the products.
    • Some of the new additions in the registered G.I. products from J&K are Kashmir Sozni, Kani Shawl, Kashmir Walnut Wood Carvings, etc.

Srinagar: UNESCO Creative City

  • Srinagar has been included in UNESCO’s creative city network for art and crafts.
  • Its inclusion has provided it with the opportunity to promote its handicraft on a worldwide scale.
  • The Department of Handicraft has also started Crafts Safari to augment and strengthen the handicraft ecosystem.
  • The growing interest in sustainable and eco-friendly products has led to a renewed appreciation for handmade goods globally.

For details, read here: PIB Summary & Analysis for 8th November 2021

E-Commerce Platforms

  • It is argued that the rise of e-commerce platforms has tremendously impacted the handicraft industry.
  • They help artisans and weavers to showcase their creations to a larger audience.
  • It has raised its consumer base and increased its revenue.
  • Some of the popular examples of e-commerce platforms are Amazon Handmade, Etsy, Handicraft Mall, etc.

Startups for Handicraft Industry

  • There is a rise of successful startup ventures in J&K that have created a brand for products originating from Kashmir. For instance,
    • Kashmir Box: It began operation almost a decade ago and is a well-known brand for purchasing products originating from Kashmir.
    • Kashmir Origin: It is an e-commerce platform that began in 2019. It is an online boutique for authentic handicrafts and works directly with artisans.
  • These startups have not only created employment opportunities but have also helped in reviving some of the dying crafts.


Though the handicraft sector in Jammu and Kashmir faced several challenges, government initiatives, technology, and startups have significantly helped in reviving the rich cultural heritage of the region.

Chapter 5: Rural Crafts for Livelihood


  • Rigveda, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Greek historians, etc have mentioned the spinning, weaving, and high-quality cotton and silk in India.
  • These materials were traded and exported to different countries in ancient times also.
  • It was stated in a paper by Exim Bank (2019) that arts and crafts are a constituent of India’s creative economy.
  • Craft means an occupation, trade, or activity requiring manual dexterity or artistic skills. They are not only pleasing to the eye but also have utility.

Also read: List of Geographical Indications

Importance of Crafts

  • It is the backbone of the rural economy and provides employment to many people. It is estimated that there are approximately 200 million artisans in India.
  • Once promoted adequately, they can fetch foreign exchange earnings.
  • It can give a competitive global advantage.
  • It preserves India’s rich culture and tradition.


  • The handicraft industry is usually an unorganized sector in India’s economy.
  • Artisans are unable to gauge market dynamics. They have little knowledge to optimize social media outreach.
  • There is low penetration of technology in rural areas.
  • Inaccessibility of funds and poor institutional framework are other serious issues.
  • Despite superior skills, wages are not in accordance with income growth in other sectors.
  • According to the Fourth All India Handloom Census 2019-20, 66.3% of the weaver household earns less than Rs 5000 per month.

Interventions to Boost Handicraft Industry

  • The Office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles implements schemes like National Handicraft Development Programme and Comprehensive Handicrafts Cluster Development Scheme.
  • Artisans are mobilized under Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana to provide direct benefits, technology and infrastructure support, marketing support, etc.
  • ‘Shilp Guru’ awards and National Awards are given by the Ministry of Textiles to give recognition to legendary craftsmen for their excellence.
  • TRIFED is a national apex body under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. Its main aim is retail marketing development of tribal handicrafts and handloom products. 
  • Several NGOs like Indian National Trust for Art and Culture Heritage (INTACH) work with craft clusters to develop community-based enterprise 

Also read: Tribes India e-Marketplace – Online Marketplace for Indian Tribal Products (TRIFED)


The artisan economy is all-pervasive and crucial for inclusion as it primarily comprises women and marginalized groups. Initiatives like ‘Unity Malls’ (Announced in Budget 2023) and ‘crafts village’ are required to make the handicrafts industry a big source of livelihood.

Chapter 6: Fostering Rural Crafts through One District One Product


  • For inclusive development, productivity, and prosperity in India, it is important to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem and in-situ development.
  • In Foreign Trade Policy 2023, the government of India emphasizes new potential export areas dwelling on districts as export hubs to increase India’s share in global trade.

One District One Product (ODOP)

  • Based on the agenda of balanced regional development, the central government has implemented the One District One Product scheme.
  • It is an augmented version of a Japanese business development concept ‘One Village One Product’ (OVOP).
    • It was introduced in the year 1979.
    • OVOP aims to promote localized products and services to improve the standard of living of local artisans.
    • Moreover, it intends to enable local contributions to nation-building.
  • The sole purpose of ODOP is to recreate and revive the lost creative products and processes to safeguard traditional knowledge.
  • It aims to create a sustainable environment for art and craft products.
  • ODOP was first implemented in Uttar Pradesh in 2018. After its success in the state, it was launched in all states and UTs of India.
  • It includes both agricultural and non-agricultural products including food grains, food products, handicrafts, handlooms, textiles, etc.
  • It will not only help the artisans/craftsmen reach consumers outside India but will also transform their skills into profit-making ventures.
  • The ODOP has been merged with the ‘District Export Hub’ (DEH) of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade.

Major Goals of ODOP

image 44

Source: Kurukshetra

List of Art and Craft and Places of Production

image 45

List of Art and Craft and Places of Production

Significance of ODOP

Category Prospect & Benefits
Local/Rural/Community Development
  • In-situ employment and livelihood
  • Local empowerment
  • Better standard of living
  • Decrease in migration
  • Rural women empowerment
  • Grass-root development
  • Sustainable income source
Promotion and Preservation of Art, Craft and Culture
  • Culture-based development
  • Revival of various art and craft
  • Fostering traditional knowledge
  • Spreading awareness
Skill and Training
  • Skill enhancement
  • Promotion of localized entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Community Development
Nation Building
  • Promotes tourism
  • Local to global approach
  • Export promotion
  • Reduces inequality and poverty
  • Ensures inclusive development
  • Encourages MSME sector
  • Regional and balanced development
  • Contributes to national income
  • Contributes to Atma Nirbhar Bharat


  • Poor institutional arrangement
  • Lack of funds
  • Inefficient linkages for marketing
  • Low adoption of technology
  • Lack of marketing skills


One District One Product Scheme will correct the skewed development towards urban areas and will foster all-inclusive development strengthening the rural economy in particular.

Chapter 7: Promotion and Development of Handloom and Handicraft Sector


  • India has assimilated different cultures and evolved as a stronger and more resilient country.
  • The different art forms have evolved as a result of several factors like:
    • Availability of raw materials
    • Legacy skill transfer
    • Environment
    • Local agricultural traditions
    • Religious beliefs
  • Some of the examples affected by local factors are:
    • Clay pottery in Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) has grown due to the availability of a special type of clay.
    • Kanjeevaram sarees have motifs drawn from nearby temples.
    • Bangle making and lacquer industry has grown around lacquer-producing areas in Rajasthan.
    • Pashmina is a goat wool fabric from Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.

For details, read here: Pashmina Shawls: History and Production Methods

Other Details

  • The handicraft industry and textile manufacturing were significantly damaged by the arrival of the East India Company in India.
  • The production of art and craft declined during British rule.
  • It could only survive in places with local needs and support. For instance, brassware and expensive silver decoration like filigree were supported by royal families.
  • Some arts were preserved by the passion of families. For example, the Salvi family of Patan, Gujarat preserved the Patola saree weaving tradition.


Several initiatives like Silk Mark and Handloom Mark are taken to indicate quality certification. They also protect the origin and identity of the crafts through Geographical Indication tagging.

Gist of Kurukshetra May 2023 Issue: Rural Crafts:- Download PDF Here

Related Links
Post-Mauryan Age Gupta Empire
Puppet Forms in India Different Types of Puppets Used in India
Indian Classical Dances Tourism Statistics for India


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