IITs to help craftsmen compete with market leaders

IITs to help craftsmen compete with market leaders

IITs to help craftsmen compete with market leaders

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) has embarked on an ambitious programme to develop “appropriate” design and technology to help Indian craftsmen compete with highly finished products of big industries, especially Chinese factories, to revive domestic market for crafts and their export.

Under the programme “Yukti”, the premier technical institutes will also develop skill development and upgradation programmes for those engaged in traditional crafts and arts as a means of livelihood, to enhance their economic prospects.

The institutes have already initiated pilot projects in Uttar Pradesh and are working with Banarasi wooden toy makers, Allahabad Moonj weavers and the metal sheet workers at Kanpur.

While craft is the second largest sector in terms of employment generation in India, Indian craftsmen contribute 8 per cent to the country’s GDP in the manufacturing sector. In Uttar Pradesh alone, every fourth person is a craftsperson producing for consumers at the bottom of the pyramid as well as for those at its pinnacles.

“The sheer number of craftsmen gives craft an edge in production and supply, but not a competitive edge against the highly finished products of large industries or the quick reverse engineering of the Chinese factories. The IITs have undertaken to develop appropriate design and technology upgradation to enable them compete with such players in market,” a Human Resource Development Ministry official told Deccan Herald.

The IITs will work with local craftsmen in their vicinity and develop innovative and effective designs and technology as an alternate to improve the production, he said.

“There is a need to envisage craft communities as alternate system of design and engineering. It is essential to revive the domestic Indian market for crafts as well as to promote their export,” he added.

Utilising their expertise, the premier technical institutes will develop “modern craft workshops” with appropriate, cheap and efficient machine designs and labour intensive technologies for craft development. A tool block will be developed for craftsmen from where a community member can borrow tools and return it after use just like a book in a library.

Crafting course

The institutes will create a national knowledge resource pool of indigenous technology, design practices as well as systems of measurement and recognition.

To train craftsmen, the IITs will design flexible teaching and learning curriculum that could fit into their everyday schedule. A fresh learner may also be employed at the same time to enable him earn a livelihood.

The practice modules will be designed in a manner that it could be assimilated by even those who are not very literate. Craft course curricula will also be offered as vocational education in community colleges besides the IITs.

The IITs have planned to offer the training programmes through both online and real-time classrooms, given the dearth of trainers in the field of skill development and lack of access to remote communities.

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