The craftsmanship has been adding to the society from both cultural and economic angles. The cultural importance of artisans pertains to preservation of heritage, aesthetic richness of traditional skills and talents, their relevance to people’s history and life styles and their role on unifying factor in our culture.
The Sarkanda craft has a vast potential to generate self-employment, which is not widely known and quantified. Besides, it will strengthen the force of self-reliance in the countryside. Hence it is of utmost importance to rediscover the real possibilities.
Keeping in view of the importance of artisans of sarkanda craft, the sole objective of the proposed study was sought to investigate and analyze the socio-economic and living conditions of the artisans of sarkanda craft in the state of Haryana with to view to finding ways for the improvement in their socio-economic and living conditions.
The scope of the study analyzing all aspects required for analyzing the socio-economic and living conditions of the artisans of Sarkanda Craft in Haryana included household particulars, living conditions, income & income sources, consumption expenditure pattern, social & economic status, working conditions, product profile and manpower requirement, performance & problems, perceptions, etc., of artisan households.
The study methodology applied two way approach; Firstly, gathering secondary data on the number of sarkanda units, number of artisans, etc. in Haryana, development of this craft over the period, assistance provided by the departments and Secondly, recording detailed information from the selected artisans engaged in Sarkanda Craft with traditional techniques of manufacture.
The method of data collection was questionnaire method. The relevance of the data & information collected was based on the primary survey. The useful information collected from the DC Handicrafts Official, NGO working for the development of the crafts in the area and traders selling the sarkanda products was incorporated. The main survey report was relied upon the primary information from the individual artisans.
The study highlighted the status of Artisans in the state as well as existing potential for large scale self employment in the artisan sector. The study also focused on problems and hurdles faced by sarkanda artisans in particular. The study also explored the possibility of government intervention in the development of artisan sector.
According to one estimate of current survey, about 70 lakh craft persons are engaged in handicrafts sector all over the country and their annual production is around Rs 21 thousand crore out of which products worth of about Rs. 9.3 thousand crores are being exported. The handicraft market in India is flourishing because of exotic designs, vibrant colors, rich heritage of traditions and fusion of art forms to create a new innovation.
Making handicrafts have never been the mainstream occupation of the people in Haryana. Most crafts have not evolved into art forms and have remained rooted to their original use and simplicity. Perhaps people were always too involved in the hardships of agricultural life to spare time for crafts.
According to NCAER Estimates for 2004 based on Census of Handicraft Artisans, there are about 142,000 handicraft artisans in the state of Haryana crafting various types of products.
Craft of making various utility items using cane, bamboo and grass is practiced in India for ages. A special type of grass which is golden white in colour is available in plenty around the national capital Delhi and Haryana. This tall grass is known as Sarkanda grass.
The green state of Haryana is known for its Sarkanda craft. It is famous for its mooda.
In the winters, when the main stalk of the sarkanda plant dries up and the grass is harvested and ingeniously transformed into a variety of products. The thicker parts are used to make stools known as mooda while the outer skin is used as thatch.
Self employed craft was the principal occupation of the large population of the area. Agriculture, service and wage earner were limited to very small proportion of the artisans population. The survey findings revealed that 98 % of artisans were self employed craft artisans as against 2% belonged to the category of wage earner artisan.
Maximum artisans belonged to Scheduled Caste while minimum representation was found from Other Backward Classes (OBC). The combined proportion of SC and OBC was 68% representing more than 2/3 of artisans engaged in sarkanda craft.
The highest proportion of artisans was in the age group of 50 years and above followed by artisans in the age group of 40-49 years and by artisans in the age group of 30-39 years. There were hardly 10% of artisans who were in the age group of 21-30 years.
Overall 46 percent artisans were illiterates as against 54% literates. Of the literates, 5 percent of Artisans were having educational level of below 5th class whereas 31 percent of artisans were having education up to Middle (8th Class) and 18 percent were having 10th class and above.
Small Family size is the best indicator of socio-economic development of the household. The analysis reveals that family size of majority artisans was in between 0- 3 and 4- 5 persons. Of which 57 percent responding artisans reported 4 to 5 number of family members in their household.
The peak season is said to be December to March and July to August is considered the lean season. The artisans expressed that unless there was an increase in the price of raw material used, there would not be price variations in the selling price of sarkanda handicrafts. Majority of the artisans pointed out that they produced as per the order of the trader. 90% of products were purchased by local traders who marketed to Delhi and adjoining markets.
The study had assessed the perceptions of artisans on children education. 65% of artisans stated that education improved the prospects of income and employment for their children. 59% of artisans had voted for graduation level as the necessary education for the future of their children. Only 30% of artisans expressed to be in a position to afford for higher education.
The conclusions derived from the analysis on socio-economic and living conditions of artisans of sarkanda craft in Haryana have recommended relief measures aimed at raising the income of the artisans which in turn uplift the living and working conditions, literacy levels of artisans & their family members and other required developments.
The artisan must have a good living home with all amenities such as kitchen, bathroom, latrine, drinking water, electricity. These facilities will be helpful in increasing his productivity. The workshop is the income source for the artisan which should be spacious and properly ventilated with facility of electricity, drinking water, storage for raw material and finished products.
Illiteracy has been the topmost hurdle in the development of artisans and their craft. They are not aware of latest developments in the handicraft sector. They are not much conscious or aware regarding loaning procedure from bank. Even they are having no idea regarding formation of Self Help Group or cooperative for the promotion of their occupation.
During the discussions with traders it was found that there was problem of institutional finance for the artisans. They pointed out the problem in getting institutional finance like difficulty in receiving loan, lack of Government programmes for the artisans. No loans from cooperative and other financial institution were made available to them.
Majority of artisan leaders told that no Self Help Group/Union/Federation/organization had been working for the development of the Artisans. Similarly artisans also faced the problem like lack of capital, lack of market, low rate of products, lack of modern technique and lack of proper training.