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Traditional crafts and skills in India and PM Vishwakarma scheme

2023 SEP 25

Mains   > Economic Development   >   Indian Economy and issues   >   handicrafts


  •  Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the PM Vishwakarma scheme in New Delhi on the occasion of  Vishwakarma Jayanti to give government support to workers engaged in traditional crafts and skills. 


  • PM Vishwakarma, a Central Sector Scheme, was launched on September 17, 2023, by the Prime Minister to provide end-to-end support to artisans and craftspeople who work with their hands and tools.
  • The objective of the scheme is to support the people engaged in traditional crafts is driven by the desire to support the artisans and craftspeople financially as well as to keep the age-old traditions and diverse heritage alive through local products, art and crafts.
  • The prime focus of PM Vishwakarma is at improving the quality as well as the reach of products and services of artisans and craftspeople and to ensure that they are integrated with the domestic and global value chains.
  • A significant section of the workforce of the Indian economy consists of artisans and craftspeople, people who work with their hands and tools, are usually self-employed and are generally considered to be a part of the informal or unorganised sector of the economy. These traditional artisans and craftspeople are referred to as ‘Vishwakarma’ and are engaged in occupations like blacksmiths, goldsmiths, potters, carpenters, sculptors, etc.


  • Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise is the nodal ministry of PM Vishwakarma Yojana.
  • PM Vishwakarma Yojana will be fully funded by the Union Government with a financial outlay of Rs.13,000 crore for a period of five years (FY 2023-24 to FY 2027- 28).
  • The Vishwakarmas will be registered free of charge through Common Services Centres using a biometric-based PM Vishwakarma Portal.
  • The artisans and craftspeople will be provided recognition through a PM Vishwakarma Certificate and an ID Card.
  • They will receive collateral-free credit support of up to Rs.1 lakh (first tranche) and Rs.2 lakh (second tranche) with a concessional interest rate of 5%.
  • The scheme will further provide craftsmen with methods of skill upgradation involving basic and advanced training, a toolkit incentive of Rs.15,000 and incentives for digital transactions and marketing support.
  • Eighteen traditional crafts/trades will be covered under the PM Vishwakarma scheme.



  • Employment:
    • India’s traditional craft sector is one of the largest employment sectors, after agriculture, and it employs a large number of people, including artisans, weavers, potters, stone carvers, and other skilled workers who create handmade products.
    • For instance, handicrafts employ more than seven million people in the Indian economy.
  • Huge export potential:
    • India is one of the largest handicraft exporting countries and earns significant foreign exchange.
    • During April 2022–February 2023, the total exports of handicrafts stood at USD 3 billion. In 2021–22, the total exports of Indian handicrafts were valued at USD 4.35 billion, a 25.7% increase from the previous year.
    • Major goods exported by India are handmade woollen, woodwares, embroidered & crocheted goods, art metal ware, hand printed textile & scarves, agarbatties & attars, zari & zari goods, and imitation jewellery etc.
  • Cultural Significance:
    • Each traditional craft carries a story, reflecting a region's history, traditions, and values. Preserving and promoting these crafts is essential to maintaining cultural diversity and safeguarding India's rich artistic legacy.
    • For instance, Warli paintings from Maharashtra is one of the forms of tribal painting that largely depicts their lifestyles and culture.
  • Eco Friendly Products:
    • Indian traditional crafts are eco-friendly as they are mostly manufactured from environmentally sustainable inputs like jutes, waste materials, hand-crafted paper products, plywood products, cloth products, hand-crafted salutation cards, recycled bottles, recycled products, biodegradable products, etc.
    • For instance, Madhubani paintings are one of the most famous traditional crafts, and the colours used in these paintings are made from natural extracts from plants and other natural sources.
  • Gender equity:
    • As the Indian handicraft industry is dominated by female artisans, accounting for over 56% of the total artisan population, it promotes gender equality and women's empowerment.
  • Source of income for rural areas:
    • The traditional craft industry is an important source of income for rural areas, as it is mainly concentrated in rural and semi-urban areas.
    • Also, with cheap capital expenditure, a high value-added ratio, and strong export potential, the sector is commercially feasible for rural areas.
  • Tourism industry:
    • Indian traditional crafts, including handicrafts, are becoming increasingly popular as the country's travel and tourism industry grows.
    • For instance, tourists spend significant money on souvenirs and other craft items, expanding the opportunity for local artisans and craftspeople to produce and sell efficient handicrafts.
  • Online portals bolstering market growth:
    • Significant advances in the availability of handicraft products on various online portals are bolstering market growth in India.
    • For instance, the Indiahandmade Portal by the Ministry of Textiles is an online platform that connects customers with artisans and craftspeople from all over India. Till now, this portal has been beneficial for about 35 lakh handloom weavers and 27 lakh handicraft artisans across the country.


  • Absence of market linkages:
    • While consumers of traditional crafts products are concentrated in urban areas, crafts continue to be sold through local markets; artisans have few opportunities to reach customers. Further, due to their rural orientation, artisans are often unable to access training and technology to supply their products to online platforms.
  • Out-dated technology:
    • Artisans producing traditional crafts lack the financial capability to upgrade technology in production or undergo necessary training on a regular basis. This compromises the quality of their products and raises the cost of production.
  • Non recognition of traditional skills:
    • Many traditional and heritage crafts are unique and have cultural significance but are not recognised by academia or industry, resulting in limited or no interest among the young generations.
  • Lack of awareness:
    • Due to their low education and lack of awareness, artisans have limited understanding of the market potential of their goods, the prices of their products in different markets, government schemes instituted for their welfare, and diversification opportunities.
  • Unorganised production:
    • As a largely unorganised sector, traditional crafts faces problems such as a paucity of professional infrastructure such as work sheds, storage space, shipping, and packing facilities.
  • Lack of funding:
    • Traditional artisans suffer greatly from a lack of working capital and access to credit and loan facilities from formal financial institutions due to their unorganized nature, and this forces artisans to borrow from their local moneylender or trader at high interest rates.
  • Competition for modern products:
    • Many modern consumers prefer the convenience and affordability of mass-produced products over traditional and heritage crafts, leading to a decrease in demand.
  • Middlemen:
    • Although middlemen are necessary to enable effective market linkages, they often exploit artisans by paying them a fraction of their fair wages.


  • Preserving age-old traditions:
    • PM Vishwakarma Yogana, by supporting the artisans and craftspeople financially, would result in the upliftment of artisans while keeping the age-old traditions and diverse heritage alive through local products, art, and crafts.
  • Aid the poverty alleviation efforts:
    • The scheme will provide support to artisans and craftspeople in rural and urban areas across India and will aid the poverty-alleviation efforts of the government.
    • For instance, PM Vishwakarma Yojana is expected to reach and bring prosperity to 30 lakh families.
  • Access to credit:
    • The scheme provides collateral-free credit support to artisans, which will provide them with much-needed working capital and access to credit.
  • Recognition and up gradation of traditional skills:
    • The scheme aims to strengthen the Guru-Shishya Parampara, or family-based practice of traditional skills by artisans and craftspeople, and further provide craftsmen with methods of skill upgrading involving basic and advanced training.
  • Integration with the domestic and global value chains:
    • The scheme also aims at improving the quality as well as the reach of the products and services of artisans and craftspeople and ensuring that the artisans of India are integrated with the domestic and global value chains.
  • Empowerment of OBCs:
    • PM Vishwakarma Yojana is an endeavour to uplift the Vishwakarmas, who belong to the OBC, by connecting them to the mainstream of development and making them self-reliant.

Other Government Initiatives:

  • National Handicraft Development Programme
  • Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts
  • One District One Product
  • Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana
  • Atmanirbhar Hastshilpkar Scheme.
  • Comprehensive Handicrafts Cluster Development Scheme


  • Identify the traditional crafts and skills that are in demand and ensure that the skilling programmes are aligned with those skills.
  • Create a bridge between the traditional skills and modern industrial techniques and tools, making the skills more relevant to the industry.
  • Recognition of traditional and heritage skills at the national and international level is crucial for promoting and skilling the craft sector in India.
  • The "Master Craftsman" model is a relatively new and innovative approach that can be adopted by academic institutions. Under this model, traditional artisans and craftsmen are invited to teach in educational institutions to share their knowledge and skills with students. In view of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, this approach helps to bridge the gap between general and vocational education and provides students with hands-on learning experiences.


Q. Discuss the significance of the traditional arts and crafts sector in the Indian economy. Also, analyse the challenges associated with the sector.

Related Topics

Lambani embroidery
2023 JUL   11
Ettikoppaka Toy craft
2023 JAN   28
Channapatna Toys
2023 JAN   25
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2022 NOV   18