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

This article gives a Gist of Yojana April 2019 Issue: Handicrafts and Textiles of India. It extensively covers information on sustaining artisans economically, the various crafts in India, contribution of handicrafts industry to the economic growth, skilling, growth and development with particular focus on North-Eastern States.

Aspirants would find this article very helpful while preparing for the IAS Exam.

Table of Contents: Handicrafts and Textiles of India

1. Introduction

2. Magic of Gifted Hands: Empowering Handicraft Artisans

3. Sustaining Artisans Economically

4. Various Crafts In India

5. Contributing to Economic Growth

6. Crossing the Seven Seas

7. Perfecting Craftsmanship through skilling

8. Khadi’s Journey: From Gandhi’s Khaddar to Fashion Symbol

9. Growth and Development: Woven in Threads of Northeast

Chapter 1: Introduction

Every region in India has its unique handicraft tradition, mostly using locally available material. Being a labor intensive sector, it supplies employment to lakhs of artisans all over the country. It also serves as an alternate source of income for the agricultural workers. The handicrafts and textiles sector is a major source of livelihood throughout rural India. The sector is also an important foreign exchange earner, as it has very high export potential. Indian handicrafts and textiles are in great demand abroad with their unique motifs and colorful textures. Indian handicraft products like shawls, jewellery, bags, wooden carvings, embroidered material are all popular at international levels as well.


  1. The artefacts that were found at the site of the famous Mohenjo—daro and Harappan civilizations, the statue of the dancing girl, the jewellery, all are testimony to the fact that handicrafts have been part of Indian tradition since the period of the Indus Valley civilization.
  2. Subsequent races and dynasties continued this glorious tradition, incorporating their individual styles and using specific materials, be it wood artefacts of Saharanpur, bidri work in Andhra Pradesh, the floral motifs of the Indo-Persian style, the rich zari work found in Kanchipuram silks, the puppets of Rajasthan etc.

Indian Textiles

  1. The heritage of Indian textiles also goes back to the Indus Valley civilization, where homespun cotton was used to weave clothes. Every region has its typical textile tradition.
  2. The rich Kanchipuram silk sarees of the South, the muga and tussar silks of the north east, the grand Banarasi sarees, the Chanderi cotton and silks, the Pashmina and Shahtoosh shawls of Kashmir, the brightly embroidered textiles of Rajasthan and Kutch, the Phulkari work of Punjab – all epitomize the richness of India’s textile tradition.
  3. Indian silk and jute garments are famous all over the world and in global demand.

Skilling the Craftsmen

  1. Skilling of artisans has been receiving focused attention.
  2. Skilling helps to familiarize the artisan with latest technology and designs and helps upgrade the product to international standards, thus, leveraging the sector’s inherent strength as a macro-economic driver.
  3. Women form the backbone of this sector. Empowering them economically and socially is, therefore, crucial.
  4. The skill that is passed on to generations is what makes this industry so unique as compared to other sectors where skills and techniques can largely be learnt in a college or academy in a formal way.

It becomes imperative that this ancient tradition is not allowed to die. The relevant stakeholders need to ensure that this ancient art flourishes and its skilled hands are economically self –sufficient.

Chapter 2: Magic of Gifted Hands: Empowering Handicraft Artisans


  1. Our country is gifted with a rich range of beautiful handicrafts. Almost every state of the country has its unique handicrafts. These products are a part and parcel of the culture of the concerned communities. Passed on from generation to generation, these handicrafts have the potential of sustaining the artisans economically.
  2. The definition of handicrafts as per Honourable Supreme Court in Louis Shoppe judgment decided on 12.03.1995 says “it must be predominantly made by hand. It does not matter if some machinery is also used in the process. It must be graced with visual appeal in the matter of ornamentation or inlay work or some similar work lending it an element of artistic improvement. Such orientation must be of a substantial nature and not a mere pretence”.
  3. Handicraft is rightly described as craft of the people and in India it is not just an industry as the word is commonly understood but is the aesthetic expression of the artisans which not only fulfills the daily needs of the people but also satisfies their aesthetic desire.
  4. There are approximately 70 lakh handicraft artisans in the country, which includes 20 lakh artisans related to the carpet sector, practicing more than 500 types of crafts such as Metal Engraving, Zari Zardosi, Teracotta, Stone Carving, Phulkari, Wood Inlay, Chikankari, Cane and Bamboo, Wooden Toys, Blue Pottery and Kutch Embroidery.
  5. Out of these, 35 crafts have been recognized as “Endangered Crafts” such as Assamese Jewellery, Rogan Painting, Sanjhi Crafts, Ganjeefa Cards and Chamba Rumal and 92 crafts have been registered under “Geographical Indication Act” like Ganjifa cards of Mysore, Kashmir Paper Machie, Madhubani paintings, Kathputlis of Rajasthan, Odisha pattachitra, Varanasi Glass beads and Warli painting of Maharashtra.
  6. 56 per cent of the artisans are female.

Role of Handicrafts in Indian Economy

  1. The Indian cottage industry, not only provides employment to the rural artisans but also has played an important role in building a parallel rural economy.
  2. Even now the small scale and cottage sector help to solve social and economic problems of the artisans, by providing employment.
  3. It provides employment to a vast segment of crafts persons in rural and semi urban areas.
  4. It generates substantial foreign exchange for the country, while preserving its cultural heritage.
  5. Handicrafts have great potential, as they hold the key for sustaining not only the existing set of millions of artisans spread over the length and breadth of the country, but also for the increasingly large number of new entrants in the crafts activity.
  6. India is one of the important suppliers of handicrafts to the world market.
  7. In the changing world scenario, craft products exported to various countries form a part of lifestyle products in the international market.
  8. The impact is due to the changing consumer taste and trends for the 7 million craft persons who are the backbone of the Indian handicraft industry possessing inherent skills, technique and traditional craftsmanship quite sufficient for the primary platform.
  9. However, in the changing world market, these crafts persons need an institutional support at their places of work i.e. craft pockets for value addition and for the edge with other competitors like China, Korea, Thailand etc.
  10. There is a high demand for Indian utilitarian and traditional crafts in the domestic and international markets.
  11. A total of 199 lines of products are now being produced and exported from India. India has been a large exporter of handicrafts over the years and the exports trend has been increasing year by year.
  12. The top ten countries contributing to export of handicrafts items(major items being art metal wares, wood wares, hand printed textiles, embroidered and crocheted goods) during the last five years are USA, U.A.E., United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, France, Australia, Italy, Canada, Latin American countries, Japan and Switzerland. India is the world’s largest producer and exporter of handmade carpets since 2013-14.
  13. Currently, India’s share is 35 per cent of total global exports. About 85 per cent of total production in the country is exported to more than 100 countries.
  14. USA accounts for 45 per cent of total exports and Germany, UK and UAE together account for 20 per cent.
  15. China and countries of South America like Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Ecuador are emerging markets. Indian handmade carpets are renowned worldwide for their beautiful designs, variety, craftsmanship, eco-friendly dyes and quality services at competitive prices.


  1. The handicraft artisans are mostly working in an un-organized set up which makes them prone to exploitation by middlemen.
  2. The handicraft sector has challenges of working capital, poor exposure to new technologies, absence of full market intelligence and institutional framework.

Addressing the Challenges

  1. Series of efforts have been taken to redress these problems and the sector is now witnessing good growth in terms of product development, domestic sales and exports during the 12th Plan.
  2. The office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) is the nodal agency in the Government of India for craft and artisan-based activities.
  3. It assists in the development, marketing and export of handicrafts, and the promotion of craft forms and skills.
  4. The assistance is in the form of technical and financial support, including in the form of schematic interventions implemented through its field offices.
  5. As the nodal agency, the Development Commissioner spearheads the country’s efforts to promote the handicrafts sector.
  6. The office supports the artisans and the sector through its six regional offices at Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Chennai, Guwahati, and New Delhi and its 53 field units.
  7. Market Linkages are provided through various domestic and international marketing events organized throughout the year in various parts of the country.
  8. Domestic marketing platform is provided by organizing Gandhi Shilp Bazaar, Crafts Bazaar, etc and organizing handicraft exhibitions in prominent shopping malls of the country.
  9. International Marketing platform is being provided to awardee artisans through participation in international marketing events.
  10. The handicraft awards namely Shilp Guru Award, National Award, National Merit Certificates and Design Innovation award are among the highest awards for the meritorious handicrafts artisans of the country.
  11. The objective is to give recognition for encouragement to outstanding craftspersons to maintain excellence in craftsmanship and keeping alive our old traditions.
  12. Also, skill up gradation and development in handicraft sector is an excellent approach for development of artisans, poverty reduction and providing income generation which would also help in achievement of sustainable development goals.

Chapter 3: Sustaining Artisans Economically

The Kutch embroidery of Gujarat or Zari-Zardozi and Chikankari of Uttar Pradesh, wooden toys of Karnataka or bamboo craft of Assam, puppets of Rajasthan or Sikki, Tikuli and Madhubani arts of Bihar are not only the traditional arts of the respective provinces but also form an important source of alternative income for the artisans. This is one of those market segments that have led India to establish its distinct identity in the international market.

  1. In non-agricultural or lean seasons, handicrafts become an alternative means of subsistence for the rural population and safeguards them from food insecurity. In this way, handicrafts become an important source of livelihood for a large chunk of the Indian population.
  2. There were 68.86 lakh artisans as per the census of handicrafts conducted during 11th Five Year Plan. The magnitude and strength of this sector can be very well understood from this fact.

Role of Handicrafts in the Tourism Sector

  1. Souvenir is a tourism ritual.
  2. Handicrafts add value to the tourist spots and attract tourists providing an income for local artisans and other petty vendors/service providers in the surroundings.
  3. Despite the scarcity in data, it is evident that there is an important contribution of handicrafts to the tourism sector of the country.

Promoting and Marketing Handicrafts

  1. Due attention has also been given on the marketing of these valuable products.
  2. Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) organises product-specific shows and also ‘Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Fair bi-annually.
  3. There have been efforts like product based-exhibitions and live demonstrations by artisans for promoting these products abroad.
  4. Market Development Assistance (M.D.A) and Market Access Initiative (M.A.I.) envision better marketing of these products through fairs, exhibitions and producers-buyers meets.
  5. ‘India Handloom Bazaar’, an online marketing portal is based on marketing of the handicrafts through facilitating direct interaction between buyers and sellers.
  6. The focus is now on the artisans and their enterprises to utilise the facilities enabling them to contribute towards our economy as well as socio-economic upliftment of the community.
  7. On a macro level, initiatives to strengthen the sector will support in preserving this cultural heritage and transferring it to the next generation as a potential source of livelihood.
  8. While on the micro level, various socio- economic issues like unemployment, poverty, migration and indebtedness will be addressed.
  9. In turn, these will add to strengthening of the Indian economy and thereby ameliorating the conditions of Indian society.
  10. Geographical Indication (GI) tag  enhances the credibility of the products.

GI tag is the sign on the product showing its region of origin. Some of the handicrafts which have received GI tag are-Kangra paintings, Varanasi brocades and saris, Bustar wooden craft, Villianur terracotta works etc.

Chapter 4: Various Crafts In India


  1. Zari is an even thread traditionally made o fine gold or silver used in traditional Indian, Pakistani and Persian garments and curtains, etc.
  2. Four types of zari are produced in India, namely, real zari, semi real zari, imitation zari and plastic zari.
  3. Real zari is made of silver and electroplated with gold, whereas semi real zari has a composition of copper coated with silver and gold electroplating.
  4. Surat is the home of zari industry in India.
  5. Other clusters producing zari are Bareilly, Varanasi, Agra, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Vadodara, Lathur, Jaipur, Barmer, etc.

Leather Footwear and Other Leather Articles

  1. The leather industry, including leather footwear, is one of the oldest traditional industries in India.
  2. The major Production centres in India are Chennai and Ranipet in Tamil Nadu, Mumbai in Maharashtra, Agra, Lucknow and Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, Jalandhar in Punjab, Delhi, Kamal and Faridabad in Haryana, Kolkata in West Bengal, Jaipur and Jodhpur in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, and Calicut in Kerala.
  3. India is also known worldwide for its leather products.
  4. Leather products such as jackets, lampshades, pouches, bags, belts, wallets, and stuffed toys are exported from India in large quantity.
  5. Leather bags and wallets account for major portion of total exports.


  1. Carpet industry is one of the oldest industries in India, and is primarily an export oriented industry.
  2. Various kinds of carpets include hand-knotted woolen carpets, tufted woolen carpets, handmade woolen durries, and pure silk carpets.
  3. Major centers of carpet production are Bhadohi, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Agra, Jaipur, Bikaner, Kashmir, and Panipat, Gwalior, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Elluru in Andhra Pradesh.

 Rugs and Durries

  1. India is one the leading producers of rugs in the world.
  2. Various kinds of rugs produced in India are namda (felted rugs), gabba (embroidered rugs), wooden pile rugs, cotton rugs, etc.
  3. Rug production is concentrated in Agra, Bhadoi, Mirzapur in UP, Jaipur in Rajasthan, Panipat in Haryana, and Kashmir in Jammu and Kashmir.
  4. Regions known for durrie making are Panipat, Bhavani in Tamil Nadu, Navalgund in Karnataka, Warangal in Andhra Pradesh and Jaisalmer and Barmer in Rajasthan.


  1. India is a major handloom producer in the world, accounting for 85 per cent of the total production globally.
  2. Handloom contributes 14.6% to the total cloth production in the country (excluding wool, silk and yarn).
  3. Major clusters in India are Bahraich, Bhuj, Karimnagar, Patan, Varanasti, Nawan, Shaher, Boudh, etc.
  4. Handloom industry is the second largest employment generator in India, next only to agriculture.

Textile Hand Embroidery

  1. In textile hand embroidery, embellishment is made on fabric with threads and sometimes with other materials.
  2. There are many popular embroidery clusters such as chikankari and zardozi of Lucknow, katha of Bengal, pulkari Of Punjab, kutchi embroidery of Gujarat and kashidakari of Kashmir.
  3. Zardozi has been traditionally prevalent in Lucknow and the six surrounding districts of Barabanki, Unnao, Sitapur, Rae Bareli, Hardoi and Amethi.

Textile Hand Printing

  1. Hand printed textiles is a craft in which cloth is dyed with hand or printed using shapes.
  2. Various types of hand printing practiced in India are block printing, batik, kalamkari (hand printing by pen) and bandhani (tie and die).
  3. Some of the important centers of this craft are in Hyderabad, Machalipattnam, Varanasi, Farrukabad, Bagh, Behrongarh, Indore, Mandsar, Burhanpur, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Kutch, Bagru, Chittroli, Sanganer, Jaipur and Jodhpur.

Cane and Bamboo

  1. Cane is largely used for furniture making, whereas bamboo is used for making jewellery and decorative utility items like lamp-stand, umbrella handles, partitions, screens, flower pots, baskets, walking sticks, tool handles, fishing rods, tent poles, ladders, toys, fans, cups, mugs, mats etc.
  2. Assam (Lakhimpur, Bongaigaon, Guwahati, etc.) and Tripura (Agar-tala, Nelaghar, etc.) are recognized as prominent places for cane and bamboo products both nationally as well as internationally.
  3. Assam is home to about 50 species of bamboo.
  4. Other major cane and bamboo handicraft centers are Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh in North Eastern region, West Bengal, Kerala, and Odisha.

Filigree and Silverware

  1. Filigree is an extremely ancient technique dating back to 4000 years ago.
  2. Filigree work is performed on silver and involves significant precision and technicality.
  3. Two major clusters of silver filigree in India are Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh and Cuttack in Odisha.
  4. The practice in Karimnagar is about two centuries old. However, it is also practiced in Warangal in Andhra Pradesh.
  5. Key raw materials used are silver wire, tracing sheet, copper, charcoal, dilute sulphuric acid.

Metal Ware

  1. The metal crafts of India display intricate craftsmanship and fine art in shaping gold, silver, brass, copper into exquisite designed images, idols, jewellery, and utility items.
  2. Different categories of handicrafts that come under metal ware are brass metal ware of Moradabad, metal bidri work and bell metal in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and so on.
  3. India is the largest brassware producer in the world.
  4. Major clusters of brassware are Moradabad, Murshidabad, Madurai, Salem, Cuttack and Haryana.
  5. Bidriware is a metal handicraft that originated in Bidar, Karnataka.
  6. The term ‘ Bidriware’ originates from the township of Bidar, which is still the main centre of the unique metal ware.
  7. It is a form of encrusted metal ware, where one metal is inlaid on to another.
  8. Bidri products include a diverse range of objects including hukka bases, bowls, boxes, candle stands, trays, jewellery and buttons.
  9. It travelled from Iran to Ajmer in Rajasthan in the 13th century AD, and from there to Bijapur and flourished during the reign of the Deccan Sultanate.
  10. It is also practiced in Aurangabad district in the state of Maharashtra and Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.
  11. The basic metal used for Bidri is the alloy of zinc and copper.


  1. Jewellery making is considered as the most distinctive and highly artistic craft in India.
  2. India has well-established capabilities for hand-made jewellery, both in traditional and modern designs.
  3. Major centers of handmade jewellery are Delhi, Moradabad, Sambhal, Jaipur, Kohima (Tribal), Nellore, Mysore, Naigonda, estimated to be present in India.

Pottery and Clay Objects

  1. There is a wide range of pottery and clay crafts in India.
  2. Most popular forms of pottery include blue pottery, black and red pottery, roulette ware, and dull red and grey ware.
  3. India has a rich tradition of clay crafts and Pottery throughout the country.
  4. Asharikandi in Assam is the largest cluster in India, where terracotta and pottery craft is found.
  5. Other clusters are Bhadrawati, Bulandshahar, Nizamabad, Pune, Chandrapur, etc.
  6. Potters are the fourth largest amongst the artisanal groups in India. It is estimated that about 10 lakh people are involved in this craft.
  7. The main raw material for this craft is ordinary’ clay, derived from the beds of water bodies.


  1. Terracotta is similar to pottery, in which craftsperson use local clay available in river beds to make items such as lamps, candle stands, figures of deities and animals, etc.

Folk Painting:

  1. Indian Folk paintings are pictorial expressions of village painters which are marked by the subjects chosen from epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata, Indian Puranas as well as daily events.
  2. There are several vibrant folk painting types in India in different stages.
  3. The Gond tribe of Madhya Pradesh is engaged in floor and wall painting.
  4. Warli is vivid expression of daily and social events of Warli tribe in Maharashtra.
  5. Rajasthan is famous Phad painting done on cloth.
  6. Other types of paintings are:
    • Pithora painting in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
    • Madhubani painting of Bihar
    • Chitrakar painting of West Bengal
    • Patachitras in Odisha
    • Kalamkari in Srikalahasti, Andhra Pradesh.

Coir Twisting:

  1. Coir is a natural, eco-friendly, water proof and exceptionally tensile fibre extracted from the nuts of coconut palms.
  2. It is found in abundance and is used for manufacturing a wide range of eco-friendly toys, mats, brushes, mattresses, wall hangings, key rings, pen stands and other home decoratives.
  3. This craft is primarily produced in Odisha (Sakhigopal, Puri, Pipli, Bhubaneswar, Batamangala and Kendrapara).
  4. It is also produced in Kerala (Ernakulam).

Theatre, Costumes and Puppets:

  1. This craft involves making objects related to festivals and for use in performing arts.
  2. Making puppets is one of such crafts, which has a rich tradition in India.
  3. There are four types of puppets – glove, rod, shadow and string.
  4. Puppets from different parts ofthe country have their own identity.
  5. These are produced in several states including
    • Odisha (Kundhei nach, Kathi Kandhe, Ravanachhaya)
    • Karnataka (Gombeyatta, Togalu Gombeatla)
    • Andhra Pradesh (Tholu Bommalata),
    • Tamil Nadu (Thol Bommalattam, Tolpavaikoothu),
    • Rajasthan (Kathputli),
    • Bihar (Yampuri)
    • Kerala (Tolpavakoothu, Pava-kathakali)

Grass, Leaf, Reed and Fibre:

  1. Traditionally, natural fibres have been used in all cultures for making utilitarian products.
  2. Different parts of the plant are used for preparing various handicrafts such as footwear, basketry, mats, chiks, bags, lampshades and boxes.
  3. Fibres can be extracted from the bark (banana, jute, hemp,ramie), stem (banana, palm, bamboo), leaf(palm, screw pine, sisal, agave), husk (coir), seeds (cotton), and grass (sikki, madhurkati, benakati, munj).
  4. Fibre is found in many states including Maharashtra (sisal), Kerala (palm leaf, korai grass), Tamil Nadu (palm leaf, korai grass), Assam (shitalpatti), Meghalaya (shitalpatti), Bihar (Sikki and Munj grass), etc.
  5. Major centers of this craft are Almora and Dehradun in Uttarakhand, Goa, Ernakulam in Kerala, Kullu in Himachal Pradesh, Midnapur in West Bengal, etc.

Chapter 5: Contributing to Economic Growth

Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh) and Raghurajpur (Odisha) are separated by over 1100 kilometers one thing brings closer and that is their association with project of linking ‘Textiles with the Tourism’ These are the first two centres chosen for a project aiming to give textiles and handicrafts a new dimension. Tirupati does not need an introduction

Raghurajpur in Odisha:

  1. Raghurajpur, a craft village is located near the temple city of Puri in Odisha and famous for its pattachitra, palm leaf art, traditional stone carving and idol making with papier-mäché.
  2. It has kept its age-old craft traditions alive.
  3. It is home to just 140 families, and perhaps India’s only village where every household is involved in producing handicrafts.
  4. It has a crafts library, an interpretation centre, an amphitheatre and guest houses.
  5. The village is hosting not just Indians but foreigners too and earning more.
  6. Tourism has given a new identity to this village and the best part is that nearby villages have also benefitted from this identity.
  7. This initiative has helped, even in a limited way, the traditional sector to get a face lift. Also, it is helping this sector to contribute more to the economic growth.

Apparel Industry:

  1. Apparel industry is now on the way to becoming the second largest manufacturer and exporter in the world after China.
  2. It is intrinsically intertwined with the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the country.
  3. The fact that 45 per cent of textiles and apparel are exported to developed countries is a testimony to the unique brand of Indian textiles.
  4. Textiles and handicrafts have been a key source of employment.
  5. Further, the handloom sector provides direct and indirect employment to 43 lakh weavers and allied workers.

Handicrafts Sector:

  1. It is mainly an un-organised and diversified sector with estimated 70 lakh artisans practicing 32 broad crafts categories throughout the country.
  2. To organize and standardize the Indian handicrafts, approximately 22.85 lakhs artisans have been trained under Pahchan initiatives.
  3. Moreover 35 crafts have been identified as endangered crafts and 92 crafts have been registered under Geographical Indication Act.
  4. For standardization of carpets, carpet rating scheme has been formulated, but handicraft items are mainly hand made.
  5. The beauty of handicrafts lies in the artistic hands of the artisans and each handicraft product is different from the other even if it is made by the same artisan using the same raw material.
  6. In an effort to establish authenticity of handmade products there is a scheme of handicraft mark.
  7. There is a direct marketing portal for handicrafts artisans to provide direct market access facility to genuine handicrafts artisans including tribal artisans working in the far-flung areas.
  8. Any handicraft artisan registered under ‘Pachchan’ can utilize this portal tör marketing their products.


  1. Cotton has been a most important component of the textile and handicraft sector.
  2. In order to protect the interest of cotton farmers, the Minimum Support Price (MSP) has been increased for 2018-19 by 28 per cent and 26 per cent for Medium Staple Cotton and Long Staple Cotton respectively.
  3. Also, to pass on the benefit of MSP and to ensure remunerative price to a large section of cotton farmers, there is a nodal agency called Cotton Corporation of India (CCI).
  4. Also, if prices of seed cotton (kapas) touches the MSP level, this agency purchases entire quantity of kapas (FAQ grade) offered by the cotton farmers in various APMC market yards at MSP rates.
  5. Growth of the textile sector depends not just upon the domestic market, but equally on the export market.

Challenges in the Textile Sector

  1. Manufacturing costs of textile sector in India is higher due to the fragmented structure of the industry and presence of MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises).
  2. One of the key challenges which India faces is duty disadvantage of up to 9.6 per cent in important consuming markets like the European Union as compared to competing countries viz. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Pakistan which have zero duty access.

Way Forward

  1. Now, in order to meet these challenges, there is a package for garments and made-ups sectors.
  2. Products such as fibre, yarn and fabric in the textile value chain are being strengthened and made competitive.
  3. Assistance is being provided to exporters.
  4. Also, interest equalization rate for pre and post shipment credit for the textile sector has been raised from 3 per cent to 5 per cent.
  5. The Government in partnership with private sector needs to encourage integrated enterprise development by providing supporting services such as local Centres for skill training, product adaptation, vocational training and entrepreneurship development.


  1. Challenges exist, still the future appears to be bright for the sector.
  2. The export demand is likely to rise and at the same time domestic sector is set to expand.
  3. Income is rising and so is the ability to afford branded and high-end products.
  4. There are many challenges and among them the most important one is the export competitiveness.

Chapter 6: Crossing the Seven Seas

  1. Each State has its unique handicraft products which reflect the diverse nature of the Indian handicrafts industry.
  2. The entire industry being decentralized, is spread all over this huge subcontinent, concentrated both in the rural and urban areas.
  3. The Indian handicrafts industry essentially falls under the cottage industry category.
  4. Despite this fact, it is a high employment intensive sector, employing over 6 million part time and full time artisans (inclusive of the carpet manufacturing sector), including women and a large section from the weaker strata of the society.
  5. Besides being an employment generator, the handicraft industry is economically viable, because of low capital investments.
  6. While the potential for export of the various handicraft products is considerably high.
  7. Hence, it is an important foreign exchange earner for our country.

Indian Textile Industry

  1. The Indian Textile industry is one of the largest in the world with a large raw material base and manufacturing strength across the value chain.
  2. India is the largest producer and the second largest exporter of cotton in the world.
  3. India is also the leading consumer of cotton.
  4. Domestic textile and apparel industry contributes 2 per cent to India’s GDP and accounts for 14 % of industrial production, 27 % of the country’s foreign exchange inflows and I3% of export earnings.
  5. The textiles and garments industry in India that employs 45 million people is second only to the agriculture sector in terms of employment.
  6. The textile sector in India is dominated by women workers, with 70 % of the workforce being women.
  7. At 50 cent of world production, India is the largest producer of raw jute and jute goods in the world.
  8. India is also the second largest producer of silk in the world. Mulberry, Eri, Tussar, and Muga are the main types of silk produced in the Country.
  9. The Mill sector, with textile mills is the second largest in the world.
  10. India is the second largest producer and exporter of cotton in the world, marginally close to China.
  11. The history or dates to period when the Indian subcontinent did business with Kabul, the Balkans and the European countries.

Conclusion and Way Forward:

  1. India enjoys a unique advantage of having abundant raw materials and presence of manufacturing in all segments of the textile value chain.
  2. The time has come for the industry to discard out dated technology and modernize its machinery to be globally competitive.
  3. The industry needs to focus on innovation and value addition for improving global competitiveness of Indian textiles and apparels.
  4. Innovation such as promoting waterless dyeing by adopting new technology is also needed.
  5. The continued growth and global competitiveness of the textiles industry can drive the economy to new heights. However, the sector also needs to improve supply chains and market potential in all Indian cities and abroad.

Chapter 7: Perfecting Craftsmanship through Skilling

Skilling helps to familiarize the artisan with latest technology and designs and helps upgrade the product to international standards, thus, leveraging the sector’s inherent strength as a macro-economic driver. Textile is a vast and versatile industry. Be it the silk from Assam or the cotton from Bengal, the Pashmina from Kashmir or the Kanjeevaram from South India, they all have their own story to tell and have their place in the market. No matter how much technology advances, the skill in the hands of people has its own charm. There is a lot of tradition that has been passed on through generations which is no less than the magic of skilled hands.

  1. When it comes to handicrafts and handlooms there is hardly any part of India which is not known for its specially crafted and woven items.
  2. India can achieve higher growth rates of finished products such as apparel, home furnishing and technical textiles.
  3. This would maximize employment generation and value creation within the country.
  4. The development of these segments in India is not only socially significant in terms of creating more employment opportunities, women empowerment and eradication of poverty and destitution, but also a harbinger of growth in terms of enhancing national income, exports, and entrepreneurship, given that some segments in the textile chain are capital-light and have less gestation period for commissioning the project.

Initiatives for Skilling:

  1. With increasing emphasis on quality, the demand for skilled labor has increased.
  2. Almost 87 per cent of the handloom households hail from rural India and only 13 per cent are from the urban areas. The handloom industry plays an important role in women empowerment due to employment of a lot of women in this sector.
  3. Skilling opportunities in various job roles like- auto loom weaver,power loom operator, Shuttleless Loom Weaver, Projectile, Beam Carrier and Loader, Fitter—auto loom weaving machine, etc. have given an impetus to the industry.
  4. The sector is also a useful tool to leverage women empowerment as they constitute majority Of the workforce in this segment.
  5. Various efforts have been made towards technology infrastructure development, export promotion etc.
  6. To spearhead and address the immediate need of the textile industry, successful efforts were made in developing 72 Qualification Packs (QPs), out of which 71 have been cleared by National Skill Qualification (NSQC).
  7. These 71 QPs constitute the requirements of about 80 per cent of the workforce engaged in textile industries, majorly the textile mill sector.


  1. The elevating employment opportunities in the textile and handicraft sectors and its allied industries, will make these sectors more prosperous.
  2. Further, these sectors are an important source to express art and skill in crafts and promote our culture by making crafts and textile items available locally.
  3. Apart from the United States and Europe, which account for about two-thirds of India’s textile exports, China, the UAE, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Korea, Bangladesh, Turkey, Pakistan, and Brazil are some of the major markets for these exports.
  4. With focused efforts the country is expected to lure significant global businesses to India.
  5. It is envisaged that the Indian market will continue its upward trajectory in the years to come leveraging its inherent strengths and macroeconomic drivers.

Chapter 8: Khadi’s Journey: From Gandhi’s Khaddar to Fashion Symbol

Even after more than seven decades since India gained its hard- won independence, Khadi continues to inspire and amaze people around the globe. And, if the growth of Khadi in the recent past is any indication, the signature fabric of the nation has emerged as a tool of economic transformation en route fashion.


  1. In 1926, Gandhiji upheld Khadi as the symbol of swaraj and spun the final yarn of India ‘s fabric or Independence.
  2. But, seven decades before Gandhiji ‘s tryst with Charkha, a girl born in Varanasi as Manikarnika or Manu, not only mastered reading the Vedas and puranas, riding and sword fighting, but also learnt weaving before becoming the Queen Of Jhansi.
  3. Khadi, as Gandhiji believed, is not only the tool of self-reliance or symbol of nationalism, rather it can also play a vital role in the economic growth of the nation.
  4. In 2017, the low-profile Khadi industry saw sales worth Rs 50,000 crore.
  5. Products manufactured in villages by small-scale industries and social entrepreneurs, most of which are run by women, also saw huge demand.
  6. The astounding growth registered in production and sale of khadi products in recent years established the fact that khadi is a versatile and timeless fabric.
  7. The average khadi sales through departmental sales outlets also witnessed a marked increase.


  1. Over 30 thousand charkhas were distributed between 2015 to February, 2018 thereby creating over 14 lakh jobs.
  2. From Environmental Day to Yoga Day, from the installation of the world’s largest wooden charkha at Delhi’s IGI Airport to installation of monumental steel Charkhas at Sabarmati Riverfront, Ahmedabad, Motihari in East Champaran Bihar and Connaught Place New Delhi, from Khadi showings in South Africa to honeybee box distribution among women workers and farmers, Charkha enablement across Punjab to the resuscitation of the worn-down Gandhi Ashram of Sewapuri near Varanasi and the Khadi-draped train that carried people from Pentrich to Pietermaritzburg in South Africa in June 2018— are significant.

Steps Taken to Promote Khadi:

  1. Efforts have been made to involve corporate brands and PSUs to provide the largest spectrum for Khadi for repositioning khadi on the textile map.
  2. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed with the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) for better design development and training at different Khadi institutions.
  3. Innovation in the form of ‘Khadi Mitra’ is on the cards, where the housewives could sell Khadi with a very nominal capital investment initially.
  4. It is proposed to open Khadi outlets outside the country to promote products made using the indigenous handspun fabric in the global markets as interest has been shown from Dubai, Chicago, Mauritius and South Africa.
  5. People in these places are interested in opening Khadi outlets under the franchisee model.
  6. It was the increasing USP of Khadi that even the world of celluloid could not resist showcasing its legacy and beauty.
  7. In a bid to increase cotton supply to Khadi institutions, six cotton sliver plants have been upgraded.
  8. Most of the plants are more than three decades old and it is necessary to change technology for better supply.
  9. Recognising the importance of enhancing the wages of Khadi artisans to a moderate level and in order to ensure that khadi profession provides sustainable life support, remuneration has been increased.
  10. As many as 143 defunct Khadi units have been revived and steps are afoot to start production at 124 more units. A
  11. Individuals, PSUs and Corporates have been urged to contribute for providing Charkhas — the Gandhian tool of self-reliance — to the artisans — predominantly women.
  12. PSUs have been approached for deploying their CSR funds towards empowerment initiatives of Khadi artisans and the Khadi institutions.
  13. REC (Rural Electrification Corporation) was roped in to revive the legacy of the Sewapuri


  1. One must not forget the words of Mahatma Gandhi that the spunning wheel represents the hope of the masses – who lost their freedom.
  2. It was Charkha that supplemented the agriculture of the villagers with dignity.
  3. Any wheel is symbolic of changing times, revolving fortunes of people and reminiscent of justice that does not discriminate between people or epochs of history.
  4. A wheel is always seen as unifier and an icon of our past, present and future.
  5. When Emperor Ashoka used the wheel as Dharma Chakra and installed it in edicts around his empire, he had just one intention in his mind – establishing social justice, indiscrimination and reducing inequalities’ of every hue.
  6. That Symbolism established in Indian society is an asset of immemorial heritage.
  7. Chakra, as a propagator of dharma still revolves at the core of our social value system.
  8. And values Of inheritance do not change with passing time.


Chapter 9: Growth and Development: Woven in Threads of Northeast

North- east is one of the biggest contributors to the growth of the textile industry. North-east India occupies a unique and important place in the indigenous textile culture of India. The people of the hilly areas and the valley areas of North-east India display heterogeneity in terms of varied eco-cultural and ethno-linguistic characteristics though all of them generally belong to the same Mongoloid ethnic group. However, each ethnic group has its own distinct, dynamic set of traditions, mythology, history and social structure.

  1. Textiles and dresses are probably dominantly identifiable cultural aspects which show the resemblances as well as the differences among the ethnic groups that are produced and used by them.
  2. The traditional dress of an ethnic group plays a major role in showcasing the ethnic identity.
  3. Each ethnic group has its own designs and colour combinations.
  4. Different motifs and designs of textiles have relationship with the rituals and religious life of the people of North-east India.

There are multiple traditional crafts prevalent in the region which are governed by the local conditions. A Common thread that binds all the States is


  1. It is practiced alike by all tribal groups in Arunachal Pradesh. Nagaland, Manipur and in the valley of Assam.
  2. There are only a few exceptions, such as the Nokteys Of Tirap in Arunachal Pradesh and the Khasis of Meghalaya who do not weave.
  3. Meghalaya is known for establishing tradition of high quality weaving.
  4. Arunachal Pradesh weaves are famous their beautiful colour combinations.
  5. Exceptional are the Sherdukpn shawls, Apatani jackets and scarves, Adi skirts, jackets and bags, Mishmi shawls, blouses and jackets and Wan-cho bags and loin cloths.
  6. Naga shawls also known as the angami naga, are famous for their bright colours and embroidery of animal motifs.
  7. Dress material generally depicts ancient Naga tales.
  8. The handlooms of the tribes of showcase traditional patterns and the rich, vibrant colours have successfully fused with modern garments.
  9. Traditionally, every household in Tripura had a handloom and locals rarely ever purchased cloth from market
  10. The striking feature of Tripura handlooms is the vertical and horizontal stripes with scattered embroidery in different colours.
  11. It is the women who are the real clothiers of this north-eastern region.
  12. Whether it the Monpas and Sherdukpens of Kameng, the Mishmis and Khamtis of Lohit or the wives of the Wanchoo chieftains of Tirap in Arunachal Pradesh, or any of the Naga tribes, or even the in the plains, it is the women who weave unlike the rest of India, where men predominate the weaving profession.


  1. Northeast India has the potential to produce the country’s tinest silk products, the same of which can be exported Outside the country.
  2. Assam is the 3rd largest producer Of silk in the country and leading among the north-east states.
  3. On the other hand, Manipur produces almost 100% of the country’s Oak tussar silk and is the highest producer of Mulberry silk among the North east States
  4. Whereas, Tripura focuses on production of only Mulberry silk end to end solutions.

Bamboo and Cane Craft:

  1. This is another traditional art form which runs through various states of the region.
  2. Due to the weather conditions of the region, it creates a conducive environment for the growth ofbamboo.
  3. Mizos (people from Mizoram) take great pride in their cane and bamboo work.


  1. Most ancient form of carpet weaving can be found in Sikkim.
  2. The traditional pattern of weaving is done by the ‘Bhutia’ community which requires a frame and an exclusive manner Of weaving.
  3. Arunachal too is well known for carpets. Arunachal Pradesh is divided into 3 major groups depending on their culture and handicrafts: the Buddhist tribes consist of the Sherdukpens and Monpas and also to some extent the Khowa.
  4. Each tribe has a unique culture and their handicrafts are great as souvenirs for those visiting Northeast India.

Wooden and Metal Products:

  1. Known as a symbol of true art of India, Sikkim excels in wood carving.
  2. Sikkim brims with beautiful monasteries, heritage buildings and temples, the architecture of which is adorned with symbols and icons carved in wood.
  3. Not only that, one can see the special wood carving with papier-maché in the mask dances of Sikkim.
  4. Pemayangtse Monastery is a fine illustration of carved wooden sculptures and wood carvings.
  5. Wood carving is also associated with the culture and tradition of the various tribes in Arunachal Pradesh.
  6. Wood carving is a significant hobby of the Wanchos of Tirap.
  7. Their skilfully crafted and designed wooden articles have a special place in Arunachal handicrafts.
  8. As far as skill of wood carving is concerned, some of the finest woodcarvers in India come from the Wancho, Konyak and Phom tribes in Nagaland.
  9. The icons that best define the Naga’s skill in woodwork are carved mithun heads, hornbills, human figures, elephants, tigers.
  10. Woodcarving is also associated with their religious beliefs.
  11. In fact, Naga arts and crafts-black smithy or metal craft is popularly found among the local tribes because of their affinity towards weapons such as spears and daos.
  12. The Rengma tribe is considered to be the best Naga black smith and one can beautifully decorated spears as take- aways.


The north-east region, by way of its location, enjoys key advantages as much as it throws up challenges for businesses. The situation, however, has improved significantly in the last few years. There is an increase in the share of industrial activity in all eight states in the region, with Meghalaya, Tripura, and Arunachal Pradesh recording the highest growth. Most development indices also show a positive performance in the region when compared to other states in India. This is just the beginning of the growth story and one can see that the textile industry will be acting as a pivot of this growth.


The above details would help candidates prepare for UPSC 2020.


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