Despite being the second largest employer in India, the craft sector has not been receiving the policy support it deserves. Dearth of organised data, unavailability of information and the unorganised nature of the sector prevent voices of change from effectively organising themselves. The rapidly changing economic scenario within India is creating new threats and opportunities for the handloom and handicraft sectors.
In this backdrop, AIACA seeks to provide a supportive policy framework for the transition of the crafts sector into an organized, entrepreneurial and competitive part of the mainstream economy that lifts incomes and living standards of producers. The Policy Research and Advocacy vertical at AIACA seeks to address these through the following objectives:
- Identify gaps in the policy regime relating to strengthening livelihood security and enhancing incomes of craftworkers.
- Engage institutions, scholars and practitioners to contribute to research to address these gaps.
- Disseminate information on policy issues through publications, research reports, periodic policy briefs, newsletters, etc.
- Prepare a compendium of government schemes and entitlements relevant for artisans and actively spread awareness about these to the beneficiaries.
Since its inception, AIACA has used its extensive network of members to collect information and bring greater attention to bear on the concerns of crafts producers and entrepreneurs. In addition to commissioning baseline studies to set the foundation for further work on access to credit, cooperative reform and environmental health and safety issues, we have given formal inputs to the approach papers for the 11th Plan as members of the Working Group on Textiles and Jute and the Working group on Village and Small Enterprises. In 2007, we also gave formal inputs to the Prime Minister's Consultation on Handloom Policy.
AIACA recently orgnaised a national level policy roundtable on the occasion of the launch of the ‘USTTAD Scheme’ by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, in Varanasi. The policy roundtable initiated a multi-stakeholder dialogue on creating an enabling eco system for the craft sector so that its producers are valued and respected for their skills and they become active stakeholders and beneficiaries of the larger wealth creation process. The broad objective of the policy roundtable was to explore an inclusive and socially responsible approach for supporting producers through the entire value chain, strengthening both production and marketing and leveraging their traditional skills into internationally competitive craft products and enterprises. It was attended by senior government officials and experts from the Crafts sector.
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" and continues to under the “Going Green” project. 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.