Empowering Artisans and Promoting Handicrafts: Lessons from India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines

The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is currently hosting the Divya Kala Mela, an event that showcases the products and craftsmanship of Divyang entrepreneurs and artisans from across the country. The fair will be inaugurated by Governor Mangubhai Patel, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Dr. Virender Kumar, and Minister of State Kumari Pratima Bhowmick.

The Divya Kala Mela features about 150 Divyang artisans, artists, and entrepreneurs from 21 states and union territories. The fair offers a variety of products such as home decor, lifestyle items, clothing, stationery, eco-friendly products, packaged food, toys, gifts, personal accessories, jewelry, bags, organic products, and more. Additionally, there will be cultural programs by Divyang and other artistes during the Mela.

This marks the first time the Divya Kala Mela is being organized in Madhya Pradesh, following previous events held in Delhi and Mumbai.

From the above, there are a few ideas that other countries could borrow to promote and support the handicraft industry and artisans:

1. Organizing fairs and exhibitions to showcase handicraft products and promote entrepreneurship among artisans – Hosting events like the Divya Kala Mela can help promote local handicrafts and entrepreneurship. It provides a platform for artisans to showcase their products to a wider audience and can help them establish new business relationships. Such events can also help in creating awareness about the handicraft industry and its potential for growth.

For instance, in Bangladesh, the government has organized numerous exhibitions to promote handicrafts, such as the ‘Bangladesh Handicrafts Fair,’ which is held annually to promote local handicrafts.

2. Providing financial assistance and training to artisans – Many artisans lack the necessary capital, skills, and training to establish and grow their businesses. Providing financial assistance, training, and resources can help them overcome these challenges and succeed in their ventures.

In India, the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises has launched various schemes to support artisans and handicraft businesses, such as the ‘Artisan Credit Card Scheme’ and ‘Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries.’ These schemes provide financial assistance, training, and marketing support to artisans to help them establish and grow their businesses.

3. Promoting eco-friendly and sustainable products – With growing awareness of the impact of climate change and environmental degradation, promoting eco-friendly and sustainable products is becoming increasingly important. Encouraging artisans to use eco-friendly materials and adopt sustainable practices can help promote sustainable development and create a niche market for such products.

In the Philippines, the government has launched the ‘Green Economic Development Initiative’ to promote eco-friendly and sustainable industries, including the handicraft industry. The initiative provides training and resources to artisans to help them adopt sustainable practices and create eco-friendly products.

In conclusion, borrowing these ideas from India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines could be helpful to other countries that have a rich tradition of handicrafts and artisans. By promoting entrepreneurship, providing financial assistance and training, and promoting eco-friendly and sustainable products, other countries could create a more vibrant and sustainable handicraft industry that benefits both the artisans and the wider community.

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