The handicraft industry of India is at the crossroads of its development. The past twenty years has seen it emerge through a number of recession in the global economy, shake off its often undeserved reputation for inferior quality and largely weather the competition of cheaper manufacturing countries.
The revival of interest in Indian handicrafts has been on account of several factors.The governing organization through an aggressive approach fired a new international interest and together with the trade fairs, which are continuously improving, is being seen as an important source for creative design and product development.
India has the possibility and potential for a degree of creative development that very few other countries can match. Innovation is the lifeblood of this industry without it the inevitable result would be its slow death. Design and designers must be encouraged and the industry should be aggressive in sponsoring strong design elements into its products.
India has never lacked in creativity, it is an integral part of its culture and people, it is important that it is allowed continuously to find place within the manufacturers products.
The prospects of this industry are positive and progress oriented, design and development, which is an expensive affair, has attained significant importance as consumer demand new and different product each season, it is interesting to see a growing group of manufacturers who are Carving out their special “niche with a look” that is exclusive to them, developed with each collection. They pursue an aggressive design oriented concept in their collection for which they have to invest a substantial part of their budget in design, research and travel. This group of entrepreneurs is the backbone of the industry and keeps the interest of buyers alive giving a feeling that they cannot miss India on their on their buying trips.
But along with this, there is a very dangerous trend emerging which could not only hinder the progress but cause very extensive damage to this industry.
This danger is that of copying, which has reached an unhealthy and blatant level, to the extent that even the buyers fear that this could be the downfall of India as a source of their production, because copying has become an everyday occurrence with handicrafts, so much so that we are almost unaware of the level it has reached. The hesitation of buyers, to place their own development with Indian suppliers has already started surfacing, for the fear of them poached by competitors.
If this continues, the end result is not difficult to imagine. Copying is like corruption. Unless arrested at the outset it is almost impossible to control, it will kill this industry.
Our industry, which has come a long way over the last five years has the prospects of its “own home” in the near future. We who are the fore runners of this industry should take steps to prevent the spread of copying.
If our buyers see that we as an industry are serious about combating copying, they in turn will treat India with a more serious approach for their requirements. Much of what is deemed “allowable” in India would never be condoned in other countries. It is time to put our own house in order. To sum up in a quote “to compete is healthy, to copy is sick”.
Let’s discourage this sickness and save our industry.