Crafts: Past Forward
Insite|October 2016

Integrating hand skills into architecture and design

Purnima Rai

In an increasingly mechanised and digitised world, our unique good fortune in being able to access an unparalleled resource of hand skills gives us a distinct edge over any other country in the world. However, if we recognise this and are able to invest wisely into this vast pool of traditional knowledge, we can carry forward a huge number of our fellow compatriots into leading a life of dignity and economic well-being. By now, it is well recorded that the number of artisans in our country is second only to agriculture; the numbers employed by the IT industry are minuscule in comparison.

It is also important to realise that hand production processes are ‘green’ in a very real sense of the term; they invariably consume low energy and use natural resources. This aspect of hand production is immeasurably valuable and will be much more so in the future when we evaluate the environmental degradation caused to our planet.

It seems ironical that while there is a lot of fanfare about ‘Make in India’ and other such programmes currently, there is little awareness about these crucial and positive aspects of a sector which has been ‘making in India’ for centuries! We pay lip service to these slogans, but seem to be sadly crippled in the vision and strategy necessary for the very survival of the crafts sector and the serious challenges it is faced with today.

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