In the days of Mc Donald's, Pepsi Cola, and Levi's jeans, where the free flow of goods and services and also of people and culture have been rampant, the volatility of the choice of the variety-seeking consumers, the king in the age of globalisation not only always demands the new and modern but also sometimes revamps the old and the traditional. It is here the case for traditional arts and crafts to come to the fore. Quite surprisingly many foreign fashion shows are run these days with Hollywood models wearing appliqued motif sarees, designed by Indian fashion designers. This instance adds to a growing demand for Indian folk creations like applique umbrellas on western sea beaches. This shows how tradition meets with modernity these days. Globalization has put both east and west into one compartment and makes a single village- a global village.

India opened up its economy and adapted to globalisation in the early nineties. Major changes initiated as a part of the liberalisation and globalisation strategy included the scrapping of the industrial licensing regime, reduction in the number of areas reserved for the public sector, amendment of the monopolies and the restrictive trade practices act, the start of the privatisation programme, reduction in tariff rates etc. Since the advent of globalization in 1991, India has experienced a lot and accordingly, society has undergone many changes in different spheres. Though the forces of globalization have ample positive effects in the long run in many sectors of our economy and society, some of its repulsive implications against the poor in many cases have worried our development strategists. If we suspend the latter for a moment, one of the growing sectors benefited out of it, is the Handicraft industry with 'Indian handicrafts export crossing Rs.1,220/- crores in 1990-91 from merely 10 crores in the mid-fifties.' Again the Ministry of Textiles data shows, it increased to Rs. 4517.52 crores in 1994-95 and Rs. 7206.79 crores in 2000-01. It had reached the peak of Rs. 8059.63 Crores in 1999-2000.

Handicrafts constitute a significant segment of the decentralized sector of our economy and its importance is being felt when it is assessed that it employs lakhs of artisans scattered especially in the weaker sections of our society such as SCs, STs and the women, producing goods worth thousands of Crores of Rupees per year.

Orissa, one of the backward states in the Indian union has also taken advantage of new opportunities of globalization and designed policies in such a way to attract foreign investment and forge ahead with its policy of economic reforms. Now it has attracted FDI flows in different sectors of its economy. Globalisation has many impacts on its handicrafts sector. Orissa, which has distinguished crafts heritage, 'there are 69,395 handicraft artisans, which includes- 41,612 males and 27,744 females. Many of its crafts have a long historical past and have been produced since antiquity.

For instance, the Applique crafts of Pipili in Puri district which is now an internationally well-known craft is thought to have been used to decorate the temples since 1054 A.D. Sources say, in ancient Orissa several crafts and industries also developed during the Nanda and Maurya rule as has been found from the excavated sites at Sisupalgarh (near Bhubaneswar), Jaugarh (in Ganjam) and Asurgarh.

In the era of globalization and changing taste and fashion, different crafts products have been changing and adopted the innovation. For instance, the applique works of Pipili have been reoriented to make applique umbrellas with metal fabrications, which are used in sea beaches and gardens, while sarees, chholies etc with appliqued folk motifs are becoming popular among people. Now many of the handicrafts have become fashionable elements in almost everybody's house and of course, with the business going beyond borders, the crafts have attracted foreign tourists and foreign markets (thereby increasing the demand), thanks to the growing intensity of the forces of globalization.

In the present globalized and financial liberalized market, owing to the popularization of machines based low cost and superior quality consumer goods, the Indian handicraft industry in general and the Orissan craft industry, in particular, is facing enormous problems. As there has been the evolution of the modern market system economy, the artisans have lost their hold over the old patron-client market network and jajmani relationship. In the globalization times, though with their products going global and increasing demand for it, there is a rise in the handicraft sector economy, still 'the artisans have become increasingly dependent on middlemen like petty merchant capitalists who pay the artisans in wage on piece rate bases.' The government's initiative to create cooperatives has not become much successful. A report says there are over 25lakh crafts persons in India, based mostly in the villages who are not used to interacting with buyers and don't have the necessary skills to safeguard their interests. Illiteracy often makes them more vulnerable.

Another problem is that the village craftsmen in our society remain concerned that free trade, mass production, embroidery from other parts of the world will outprice the products of their hard labour. Although globalization has so far served the handicrafts sector well, there is no denying that some of these products will come under attack and India will not be able to word that off. In Orissa, various small scale industries have been facing enormous problems and have failed to compete with the Chinese companies who have intruded into the Orissan market with their low-cost products. So there is an urgent need for the Orissa government to invest more in this sector. Since handicrafts come on the state list, it becomes a major responsibility of the state government to ensure maximum development in this sector.


The production base is much unorganized in the Indian handicrafts sector. The craftsmen use traditional tools and techniques for which the production base is very weak. So for improvement in the quality of production, it is necessary to upgrade the skill of the artists who should be supplied with quality raw material and adequate financial assistance. Government should take ample measures to provide loans and give training to the artists. At the same time care should be taken to ensure that with innovation originality of the crafts is truly maintained. To make the craft products internationally well known and commercially viable, steps should be taken together by the Ministry of Information, Commerce and Tourism. Besides the Indian government could make different Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) for the export of crafts goods to foreign countries while dealing with trade-related agreements. In addition, the craftsmen should also be properly exposed to the market, leaving little room for the intrusion of the exploitative middlemen. Since antiquity, Orissa is well-known throughout the world for its celebrated handicraft products and the illustrious expertise of its artists. Let us work together to continue with that tradition.

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