AIACA has undertaken a range of advocacy initiatives to
bring about desirable policy changes related to crafts
sector. As a result, today AIACA is a network of more
than hundred crafts organisations and has a core
advocacy group of eminent experts and relevant
stakeholders. The following are the main arenas for policy making relating to the handloom and handicrafts sector.
AIACA seeks to build its engagement in each of these
arenas through membership of relevant committees where
applicable, formal submission of published research
reports and recommendations as well as workshops and
conferences on selected policy issues.
Advocacy at the National Level
Ministry of Textiles
The Ministry of Textiles is the nodal ministry for handloom and handicrafts. Offices of the Development Commissioner (Handicraft), Handloom and Handicraft Export Council (HHEC) fall under the work allocation of a Joint Secretary (currently Mr S.S. Gupta) to the Government of India. Another Joint Secretary (currently N.D. George) looks after the policy and budgetary aspects of Textiles including handlooms and handicrafts.
For handlooms and handicrafts, the two key organisations under the ministry of textiles are the Office of the Development Commissioner for Handlooms and the Office of the Development Commissioner for Handicrafts. Over the years, AIACA has engaged with the two offices in various capacities over issues such as access to raw material, access to markets and access to credit. More recently, AIACA has been engaging on the issue of protection, preservation and promotion of handloom and handicraft goods through the Geographical Indications status.
Parliamentary Consultative Committee
There is a parliamentary consultative committee on Handlooms and Handicrafts. The schedule of the Parliamentary consultative committee meetings is posted on the website of Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs: http://mpa.nic.in/meeting.asp.
The names and address of the members of the committee are as follows:
Shri P. Lingam (Member of Parliament-Lok Sabha)
- Shri C. Sivasami (Member of Parliament-Lok Sabha)
- Shri P. Viswanathan (Member of the Parliament-Lok Sabha)
- Ramesh V. Katti (Member of Parliament-Lok Sabha)
- Shri Moinul Hassan(Member of the Parliament-Rajya Sabha)
The Planning Commission is a nodal agency for Govt. - NGO interface. Within the Planning Commission, the sectoral responsibility with regards to Voluntary Action including Health and Handlooms and Handicrafts, is led by Dr. (Ms.) Sayeda Hameed. In the context of the formulation of Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2012), sector-wise Working Groups/ Steering Committees/ Task Force have been set up by the Planning Commission to make recommendations on various policy issues. Handlooms and Handicrafts come under the purview of Village and Small Enterprises sector.
Two separate steering committees, one steering committee on village and small enterprises which includes Handlooms and Khadi and another steering committee on Handicraft sector. The composition and terms of reference of the committees are available on the Planning commission website. Also, a sub-committee of experts on handloom and handicraft have been formed by the Chairperson for the Eleventh Five year Plan mid-term course correction. AIACA has been regularly attending the two steering committee meetings and has been providing inputs and suggestions on behalf of its member organisations.
AIACA started its policy research and advocacy work on Environment, Health and Safety issues in Craft sector two years ago through the European Commissions' SWTICH- Asia project titled "SUSTEX-Sustainable Textile for Sustainable Development". In the last two years, AIACA has published several studies, prepared policy briefs and manuals and organised seminars on the issues of Occupational health and safety of workers in informal sector in general and Handloom and Handicrafts sector in particular. AIACA also engaged with the Planning Commission on the issue of Occupational Health and Safety.
It may be noted that The Planning Commission of India, in the context of preparation of the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2012), had set up a Working Group on Occupational Safety and Health under the Labour Employment and Manpower sectoral division. The Working Group was serviced by the Ministry of Labour and Employment. The composition and terms of reference and other relevant details can be found on the Planning Commission website.
Export promotional council for Handicrafts (EPCH)
recently brought out a Safety Manual for the guidance of the handicraft
exporting community. This Manual explains various statutory requirements,
implications and compliance etc. Based on AIACA's work on similar issues
and concerns, we seek to engage with the interested stakeholders including EPCH
on the issue of Occupational health and safety. EPCH is a non-profit
organization under the aegis of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry
of Textiles. The Council is engaged in the promotion of handicrafts from India and project India's image as a reliable supplier of high quality handicrafts to the international audience. For details on EPCH, please visit: http://www.epch.in.
Ministry of Environment and Forests
AIACA has been a strong proponent of brand building through appropriate labelling of Indian handloom and handicrafts products. In the wake of increasing focus on various types of social and environmental compliances by producers and exporters from India related to health, safety and environmental issues, AIACA believes that there is a need for an Eco-label that can act as a credible device signalling environmentally safe and socially responsible standards. A recent market research study commissioned by AIACA on eco-friendly products in India which reviewed existing domestic and international Eco-labels pointed out the need for an improved Eco-label with more widely responsible and acceptable standards. AIACA seeks to work together with other interested stakeholders including the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India towards developing standards for such an Eco-label.
Ministry of Finance – Annual Budget
AIACA publishes budget briefs which analyze the budgetary allocations of the handloom and handicrafts sector based on the budget documents released by the Ministry of Finance. Working together with other civil society organisations, AIACA will continue to advocate for just and equitable allocations to the handlooms and handicrafts sector.