Economy – Traditional Arts and Crafts – a Rejuvenation Policy – Narrative .

NARRATIVE:

Indian arts and crafts ruled the world for thousands of years. The artistry displayed in metal work including of gold, silver, brass, copper, iron, bronze, stonework such as statues etc. as well as in design and creation of jewelry, pottery, ceramics, woodwork, weaving and textiles from silks and cotton, carpets, and so on are exceptional and amazing and were the envy of all who came into contact with the workmanship as well as a learning for developing their own; but our own citizens have forgotten their own achievements.

For example, western researchers found that in 3500 BC Indian weavers were weaving yarn from cotton so fine as to make from one pound of cotton yarn 200 miles long; finer than the human hair! You need machines to do this today!! One just needs to visit Ajanta and Elora to realize how much we have influenced today’s western art and design; do we know this, or care or inform or market ourselves to the world? No, we constantly seek western FDI! No Indian government has had the brains or time to give to such, to them, “mundane” facts, leave alone to develop and capitalize on them.

The Rising India Party takes the position that in these “mundane” facts, lie some part of the solutions to India’s job and wealth creation in the 21st century.

The European, thorough the Greeks and Romans landed up more than 3 centuries before Christ was born and was inspired by the skill, detailing and fineness of workmanship that they saw and experienced. To this day, this talent is amply visible in the various surviving and visible work in the Ajanta-Elora caves and other surviving work. Most was destroyed by Muslim invaders; and our own people did even greater damage.

The Anglo-Saxon is primarily responsible for not only sweeping the Indian civilization, its achievements, and its contributions to their own western society’s development narrative; in the inspiration it provided, the finance and fundamental processes and ideas it provided for the industrial revolution to take off and lead to the highly wealthy and developed state of its civilization and society of today, but they actively connived to the extent they could to destroy or hide all and any visible proof of these undeniable facts.

On the other hand, the Italians, French, Germans still will acknowledge, however reluctantly, the contributions of the Indian civilization to their own civilizational development stories. Most of the proof of our civilizational achievement rests hidden in their archives and deeply hidden museums that are not open to examination; a theft of our civilizational legacy. They all stole, to the extent that it would be fair to state that the Western civilization has been built on theft and murder first, and only then on innovation and enterprise.  

At the same time, the greatest tragedy is that almost all of the research into our civilizational story, and indeed whatever preservation of it that exists today, is due also, largely to the same Western people who came in contact with us and include many German, French, Italian and some Anglo-Saxon writers and researchers. Inevitably, they colored what they saw with their own lens and broader agendas. To this day, Indian research into their own civilization is so small and limited as to be almost non-impactful or visible to anyone in the wider world.

One defining feature, and indeed strength, of our civilization is the fact that almost any profession, be it an art, or craft or business of any kind, has been carried within the same families and the skill and talent for it passed down from generation to generation, literally, for thousands of years.

Knowledge was passed on through the medium of “shruti and smriti”; that which was heard to that which was remembered; and given that Sanskrit, the world’s root language, is so mathematical and precise, that complex ideas could be discussed and taught with extreme brevity, this knowledge and insights of our Rishi-Muni’s survived for millennia, till the written technology came into play. Similarly, all skills and craft were passed on from father to son for thousands of years, some, though very little surviving to this day.

What was and is, potentially, a huge asset even now in the 21st century, was, and is still being progressively killed, by our business communities and their short-sighted shylock like profit squeeze from the artisans, to the extent that today’s children of these families have quit the trade and craft in droves over the past 60 years, as newer and better paid work came along. All governments over the years have lacked insight and indeed, concern for these, and have done little except lip-service and some small moves for and on behalf of our arts and craft preservation.

The Rising India Party aims to change this rapidly, and begin immediately, after it wins elections as per a Policy Framework that is aimed at not only reviving, but bring back into the fold many who quit in disgust at low wages and return on their skill and craftsmanship through government support leading to high earning potentials for those who practice these dying skills and craftsmanship as stated below:

  1. The Rising India Party, immediately on winning election will tap into, and enhance, the available data base with various government bodies dealing with or catering to the Indian handicraft, textile, handloom, arts and crafts sectors and consolidate these under one overarching Ministry of Indian Civilizational Arts and Crafts.
  2. A consolidated Data Bank would be formed that would be tasked with immediately identifying and logging the following:

 

  1. List of all known craftsmen / women / families for each sector or area of activity as identified within the known data.
  2. Investigating teams would be created to deep dive and include physically visiting various craft concentrations and complete the data base so that all or most craftsmen are identified.
  3. Advertisement campaigns would be run for people to come forward and identify themselves as ones who are either actively practicing their craft or have the craft but have abandoned it as a means of livelihood.
  4. The incentive would be that the government is creating the architecture wherein they may find if valuable to re-explore their work options.
  5. List of all known areas of concentration for each art or craft throughout India would be created or completed in Data Bases, if available, or created afresh, if not.
  6. These activities would be preparatory to creating a Arts-Crafts dynamic that would place huge earning opportunities for those who are involved in these, and do this quickly.
  1. The government would form Plans Boards for each significant area of art or craft or activity falling under each heading.
  2. Each of these Plans Boards would, for each area have as its members people drawn from government service, not numbering more than 40% of total for each board, the balance being outside, private sector expertise comprising craftsmen who are directly plying their trade, traders who are selling the merchandise produced by such craftsman, neutral personnel with knowledge or experience of overall management in these areas or experienced in export markets for similar areas etc.
  3. These Boards would be tasked with fine tuning suggested Policies and for creating the re-generation architecture for each area.
  4. For the purpose of understanding the Policy Matrix that is suggested to re-generate these activity areas as robust, viable and high-earning areas it is important to examine and understand the State of these activity areas these past 100 years or so.
  5. For the most part, each of these ancient arts and crafts display the following characteristics:

 

  1. Most of the Indian arts and crafts have been frozen in time from the perspective of design.
  2. There has been hardly any, or no new design inputs or creativity in each area of concerned art or craft.
  3. Design capability as an organized sectoral development is completely missing.
  4. The tools that are used are almost ancient with no updating or modernization where even acquiring readily available tools from the West that would be major up-grades, qualitatively and ability to carry out complex task in an easier, more effective frame. 
  5. No training, other than that imparted by the family patriarch or guru as the case may be.
  6. No capability for access to markets exists with the artists and craftsmen except through the moneyed trader whose modus operendii, generally, is built around providing the raw material such as silver, gold, yarn, and so on, which is then job-worked into fine pieces of art or craftsmanship for which a pittance is paid while the trader who has access to markets, rakes in millions.
  7. This myopic operation on the part of traders and business wherein they do not, and are not prepared to share their largess; earned from the art of craft of those on which they make 1000% plus markups, has driven many of these to extinction or near extinction while depleting the huge natural employment and income pool available to the country for the long-term.
  8. These would be self-employed individuals / families, always in demand as long as their art or craft produces goods of the fineness they are known for, and continue to design-evolve.
  9. As product design history tells us, all creative products do have longevity and only gain value as they improve while delivering good quality sustainable life styles to the humans who are artists and craftsmen; from tailors to silver-smiths, gold-smiths, weavers, potters and on and on and on.


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