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The office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) is the nodal agency in the Government of India for craft and artisan-based activities. It assists in the development, marketing and export of handicrafts, and the promotion of craft forms and skills. The assistance is in the form of technical and financial support, including in the form of schematic interventions implemented through its field offices.

As the nodal agency, the Development Commissioner spearheads the country's efforts to promote the handicrafts sector. The office supports the artisans and the sector through different developmental schemes through its six regional offices at Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Chennai, Guwahati and New Delhi and its 61 field units.

The Handicrafts Sector plays a significant & important role in the country’s economy.  It provides employment to avast segment of crafts person in rural & semi urban areas and generates substantial foreign exchange for the country, while preserving its cultural heritage.  Handicrafts have great potential, as they hold the key for sustaining not only the existing set of millions of artisans spread over length and breadth of the country, but also for the increasingly large number of new entrants in the crafts activity.  Presently, handicrafts contribute substantially to employment generation and exports.

Constraints:  The Handicraft sector has, however, suffered due to its very nature of being unorganized, with the additional constraints of low capital, poor exposure to new technologies, absence of market intelligence,and a poor institutional framework.

No. of Artisans:  As per census of Handicrafts being conducted in the 11th Plan the major highlights are as under:

Total     68.86 Lakhs
Male      30.25 Lakhs
Female   38.61 Lakhs

Demographic Profile of Artisans:

Female           56.13 %
Male               43.87 %
SC                   20.8%
ST                    7.5%
OBC                52.4%
General          19.2%


The Small Scale and Cottage Sector helps to solve social and economic problems of the artisans, by providing employment to over 7 millions artisans (including those in the Carpets trades) which include a large number of women and people belonging to weaker sections of the society. 

In addition to the high potential for employment, the Sector is economically important from the point of low capital investment, high ratio of value addition, and high potential for export and foreign exchange earnings for the country.  The industry is highly labor intensive and decentralized, being spread all over the country in rural and urban areas.  Many artisans are engaged in certain crafts work on part-time basis. 

India is one of the important suppliers of handicrafts to the world market.  Although exports of Handicrafts appear to be sizable, India’s share in world imports is very small. Despite the existence of production base and a large number of craftsmen, India has not been able to en-cash existing opportunities.

Handicraft is a sector that is still explored from the point of view of hidden potential areas. Going back into the reason for small share of Indian handicrafts in the world market, the main parameter which comes out is ‘SEARCH & EXPLORATION OF HIDDEN CRAFTS OF INDIA’ the field which has not been ever touched by Indian Handicraft Industry.

In the changing world scenario, craft products exported to various countries forma part of life style products in international market.  The impact is due to the changing consumer taste and trends.  In view of this, it is high time for Indian Handicraft Industry to go into the details of changing designs, patterns, product development, innovations and requisite change in production facilities for a variety of materials, production techniques, and related expertise to achieve a leadership position in the fast growing competitiveness with other countries.

The 7 million craft persons who are the backbones of Indian Handicraft Industry possessing inherent skill, technique, traditional craftsmanship is quite sufficient for primary platform. However, in changing world market, these craft persons need an institutional support, at their places i.e. craft pockets for value addition and for the edge with other competitors like China, Korea, Thailand etc.


Handicrafts is a labor intensive sector with high potential of employment for poorer section of the society in rural areas. It is economically important because of low capital investment, high value addition and negligible import content and high potential for export earnings.

The emergence of handicrafts sector, as one of the sources of foreign exchange earnings for the country, is evident from the data of exports of all India's handicrafts from India.