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Employing more than an estimated 11 million skilled craftsperson’s and weavers to form the backbone of the nonfarm rural economy the craft sector remains the second largest source of self-employment after agriculture in India. Over the nearly seven decades since India’s independence official government policy on crafts has constructed and shaped the economic potential of a sector that remains deeply rooted in its cultural and creative ethos. While much has been achieved over the years through proactive policy action it remains vitally necessary to continue to invest in India’s crafts and craftspeople to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. This brief essay sets the contextual backdrop of the foundational decades of policy development from 1947, when India gained independence, to the 1980s. In addition, the essay provides a bird’s-eye-view on changing policy priorities post the 1990s economic liberalization to the present. The essay signposts some policy initiatives that have had an enduring social, cultural and creative impact and concludes by setting forth some policy prescriptions for future consideration.
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