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COVID-19 and challenges of Craftspeople

  • IASbaba
  • April 16, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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GOVERNANCE/ SOCIETY

Topic: General Studies 1 & 2:

  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors 

COVID-19 and challenges of Craftspeople

Context: Craftspeople, artisans, weavers, home-based skilled self-employed was not mentioned in the COVID-19 financial packages announced by the government.

Craftspeople of all categories in India are largely ignored and left to fend for themselves. 

Some of the challenges which they face in the wake of lockdown are:

  • Essential supplies have not reached to majority of daily wage craftspeople.
  • Bulk orders were cancelled impacting their business cycles & meagre incomes
  • Inadequate raw material left at the start of lockdown, which means that kick starting their activities post the lockdown will be difficult
  • Food insecurity: In rural areas only some have enough stocks of rations.
    • Those in towns only buy monthly supplies and have no income now to replenish their ration
  • Presence of police and their brute policing methods impacted their movement even to fetch essential supplies
  • Miseries of weavers:  They have looms in their homes but no yarn and large numbers of very poor weavers working under them are unpaid.
  • e-commerce platforms have not been of much help during the lockdown
  • Depressed demand: Collective activity will remain subdued in the aftermath of lockdown impacting their livelihoods

Way ahead

  • Interest-free loans of Rs 5,000-Rs 10,000 per month per family for two months backed by the government
  • Policy Impetus: Craftspeople are largely dependent on tourism and hence need a composite plan to stimulate demand so they can look forward to the festival season.
  • The corporate sector must support with advance payments to order festive season gifts for clients.
  • Special package for weavers
    • The textile ministry needs to focus on the specific needs for different areas in the country, avoiding one-size-fits-all schemes
    • Multipurpose handloom gamchas provided by weavers can serve as masks 
  • Import Substitution Strategy
    • Indian Potters can provide clay and even cow dung lamps that could replace Chinese lamps lit during Diwali season
    • More than Rs 400 crore worth of roundly cut bamboo sticks are imported from China and Vietnam by agarbatti manufacturers. This can be substituted by bamboo from Northeastern states 
  • Re-energising village industries through change in developmental strategy (that is currently focused on centralisation in metro-capitals)
    • This will reduce carbon footprints and discourage migration

Connecting the dots:

  • Impact on lockdown on Livelihood of Tribals
  • KVIC – it’s possible role in the aftermath of lockdown to kick start crafts industry

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