The challenges artisans face and how The Palkhi helps in combating them
By: Aditi Iyer
The handicraft industry has existed in India for centuries. It encompasses a wide range of forms, with each district of India practising a different craft. Traditional Indian handicrafts are renowned for their intricate designs, vibrant colours, unique shapes and mediums, and close connection with the region’s culture and tradition. The industry is suitable for India as it requires low capital investments and provides sufficient employment opportunities to individuals,
Recently, a rise in digital and eCommerce channels has helped the industry tap into a potential market as consumers can purchase handicrafts more easily. India’s flourishing travel and tourism industry has allowed many opportunities for local artisans and handicraft manufacturers. They are encouraged to produce commoditized products and sell them to tourists willing to spend significantly on souvenirs and other craft items.\
These trends in the market have helped the industry to grow. Still, it has primarily stayed in the unorganised sector, with rural artisans contributing to a significant share in production. The initiative, moreover, faces issues in various spheres- digitalisation, corporate influences and the domination of contemporary art forms over traditional forms.
The influence of western art forms and how corporations play a role in enabling this is a problem. Artworks are made more palatable to foreign palettes by making them “more contemporary.” This, however, erases the history and cultural identity of these art forms, resulting in whitewashing. Another negative impact of corporate involvement is high price markups for locally made handicrafts. They sell within India and source their products from local artisans. Yet, the prices are higher than they should be because they aren’t artisan-oriented.
Increasing digitisation across various sectors has helped it permeate the handicraft industry. However, local and small artisans face their share of problems. They cannot showcase their products in digital platforms and markets due to a lack of access to resources, the absence of appropriate technology, or even knowledge on navigating these spaces. They end up being excluded from the advantages of the digital market spaces and losing out on the potential exposure they need to promote their art form.
The Palkhi is an artisan-oriented business. It aims to ensure the identity of the artworks is preserved while tapping into the potential of the digital market. It helps bridge the digital gap between artisans and customers by providing a platform for them to sell their products and for consumers to place their orders quickly. Products have lower markups as The Palkhi aims to promote handicrafts and unknown art forms and bring them into a more mainstream market.
The advent of the “Make in India” campaign has also helped fuel an interest in local handicrafts, with people being encouraged to buy locally and support small artisans and businesses. The handicraft industry is slow-moving, as it takes time to source the products. Still, the market continues to grow, as people move towards buying locally. With The Palkhi, you can choose from a wide variety of products, directly from artisan to citizen.