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Buy local, stay global

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Shikha Bhatnagar
Shikha Bhatnagar
Shikha Bhatnagar is a person of diverse interest. She is a freelance writer and a member of Indian National Trust of Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). She has been an educationist, a management graduate and an author of the book, "How's Honey, Dear?" available at Amazon.

“Buy handmade, be one in a million, not one of millions”, is a famous tag line. Recently Modi jacket made the headlines too.

India surely has always had a rich tangible cultural heritage of traditional clothing and artwork. Ancient India, as we know today, was highly advanced in all spheres of life – from science and technology to astronomy, astrology, art and literature, textile and handicrafts. Reference to weaving styles have been found in Vedas, and woven and dyed fabrics have been excavated in the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro. Even in those times, the Indian fabrics were exported to Rome, Egypt and China.

In the pre-colonial era, the Indian textile industry was at its peak of glory. India was known for its famous muslin cloth; wherein a full length saree would pass through the ring of a finger. But colonial rule threw the highly specialized artisans into poverty. After 75 years of independence, our cottage and handloom industries are once again regaining their long forgotten glory, as the handicrafts and handloom products are much in vogue again.

Be it hand embroidered Chikankari of Lucknow, handloom woven Banarasi weave, Paithani sarees of Ahmadnagar, Mysore silk, Kanchivaram silk, Sambalpuri weave, or Madhubani paintings of Bihar, Tanjavur paintings – the list is endless and each work speaks a volume about itself. Each state has a rich heritage and each piece is a class by itself. No two pieces are alike. The exhibitions are organized by these craftsmen both at local as well as national level, to display their artistry.

Round the year, vibrant and lively ‘Delhi Haat’ offers exquisite handicraft and handloom products from across the country, usually conspicuous by their absence in the local market. So does a fortnight-long India International Trade Fair (IIFT) of Delhi, organized by the India Trade Promotion Organization, wherein the companies in specific industry  from world-over showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services; meet with industry partners and customers, study activities of the rivals, and examine recent market trends and opportunities.

Throughout this fortnight, people just throng in to lay their hands on the extraordinary, exquisite items. This reveals the people’s penchant for the handicrafts and handloom items over any common place product. These places are highly patronized, equally by the nationals as well as the foreign nationals, who are highly passionate about these ‘handcrafted’ collector’s items.

Various schemes and programmes have been rolled out by the Government to improve the working condition of handloom weavers; and for sustainable development of handloom sector, to empower them by organizing self-help groups.

Secondly, by various skill development programmes the artisans are being motivated to produce diversified products with innovative use and improved quality, to meet changing market trends and get remunerative prices.

The artisans are the pride of any nation and are held in high esteem, due to their highly proficient job. Donning exclusive items set us apart, and the best way to show our gratitude to them is by being vocal about buying local and recognizing, applauding and carrying the pride of our country on us.

Moreover, it would be worthwhile to buy their products directly, as many of them are quite well versed with technology and social media. This could be easily done by pre-booking or pre-buying the product, and get it customized according to one’s taste. The exquisite items could also be purchased from organizations that work directly with clusters.

This would not only reduce our dependence on imports, but our regional economy will get a boost, and encourage our local industry. Accordingly, the recent trend is that buying local is the new global mantra. Post COVID-19 most of the countries started promoting their own products, to boost their own state economic machinery.

The opportunity for employment of our educated youth would increase, and cease the exploitation of the local communities. The country as well as our artisans is likely to earn more, while the consumer spending remains the same. Moreover, since “handcrafted things never go out of style,” they remain in vogue forever, and are worth the investment.

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Shikha Bhatnagar
Shikha Bhatnagar
Shikha Bhatnagar is a person of diverse interest. She is a freelance writer and a member of Indian National Trust of Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). She has been an educationist, a management graduate and an author of the book, "How's Honey, Dear?" available at Amazon.
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