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India's cultural heritage is being lost

Artisans in India struggle to survive

India's cultural heritage is being lost

Artisans in India struggle to survive

India's cultural heritage is being lost

Artisans in India struggle to survive

India's cultural heritage is being lost

Artisans in India struggle to survive

Despite the nationalist fervour for all things Indian, our traditional arts are dying.

Making beautiful things – from carpets to carvings, from baskets to bangles – requires imagination, creativity, knowledge passed down through generations, and great skill. Hand-crafted items are a distillation of culture and local sensibility.

Yet in recent decades the number of artisans in India has plummeted, as craftsmanship is no longer socially valued or financially rewarded. The markets have been flooded by cheap, mass-produced goods, and a security guard or street cleaner can earn more than a highly skilled craftsman.

Narendra Modi’s regime has done little to support its struggling artisans, even though they are so vital to India’s cultural heritage. In August 2020 the government abolished the All India Handicrafts board, just weeks after the All India Handloom board was scrapped. The Handicrafts board was over seventy years old, established just after independence to safeguard traditional craftsmanship and the rights of artisans. It was the only national body that gave them a voice and a say in government policy.

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