CCI’s response to COVID 19
Artisans constitute the second largest source of Indian livelihood after agriculture. In the absence of robust reliable data, the official figure (Ministry of Textiles) is between 10M and 11M artisans, while other estimates range up to 250M .There is no estimate therefore of the size of this sector and its contribution to the economy.
What the sector needs at this moment is to:
- include artisans/ craft associations/ craft NGOs in the support and compensation packages being given by the government to companies/ industries that are affected mostly during the lockdown
- support outreach to rural and urban craft communities on how to keep individuals and families safe from Covid 19 infection
- support/ investment in building demand for handmade quality once market conditions stabilise through aggressive demand creation and marketing (on the lines of the Incredible India campaign)
- working capital loans from banks on low interest and with a moratorium on repayment
- take immediate action to help build the supply/ production/ distribution chains to match tomorrow’s demand.
- reservation for handloom and handicrafts in certain government run institutions like railways, offices and institutions which need sustained production thereby providing a steady source of income.
The loss of any sale in March and April and cancellation of orders has resulted in stocks piling up.
Civil society and central/ state authorities can respond through partnerships across the country that can ramp-up raw material/ technology/ design/ entrepreneurship training and establishing calendars of market events/ opportunities toward which production can be geared. IT know-how can assist such outreach, including the importance of e-commerce in the current situation.
The immediate requirement is money in the hands of artisans and weavers most in need in order to start their livelihood occupation in the post-lockdown period. The teams and partnerships have to come together, from rural artisans to product development facilitators to urban retailers. The investment needs would be relatively small and the multiplier effect would be huge, offering jobs and a ray of hope at the bottom of the pyramid.