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Technology How technology can help improve lives of Indian craftspeople

08:40  01 november  2019
08:40  01 november  2019 Source:   qz.com

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How is technology changing the life of artisans? First, we need to distinguish between the kinds of technology at play. Digital technology (like Instagram and WhatsApp) is helping to bring higher outreach for, and better promotion of, crafts. When a craftsperson gets the hang of it, he or she can use it to take good photographs and set proper prices. Selling online can be quite whimsical and demand is generally erratic. Digital technology can help them understand how many pieces they may have to keep as buffer.

How is it none of then singly or jointly could not improve lives of farmers. It is very unfortunate that all the govts have not focused on agriculture, especially when India is an agricultural country in the tropics. Monopoly of seeds company,increase in use of fertilizer and pesticides increase input cost drastically.We will have to go back to natural farming or organic farming.Agricultural scientists can help farmers in this direction.Demands of organic vegetables is increasing,people are ready to pay higher domain.strategi.st.

Does the world really care about Indian crafts? Going by the country’s measly 2% share of the $400-billion global crafts market, it would appear not.

a person sitting on a table: India© Provided by Atlantic Media, Inc. India

On the other hand, that conclusion may be too hasty, especially since India’s vast and varied crafts industry is difficult to map. And while innovation may be slow to come, technology is helping artisans tap the domestic market efficiently.

These and several other conundrums of the role of technology in crafts and culture were discussed at the Crafting Futures roundtable organised by the British Council in New Delhi on Oct. 21. Among the speakers was Jaya Jaitly, curator, textile revivalist, and founder of the Dastkari Haat Samiti, who believes that rather than focusing on the 2% figure, India should look at improving its domestic market. “Our middle class is rapidly increasing and foreign brands are chasing our middle class. Shouldn’t we be doing that, too?”

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For example: How to improve my writing? How to market products, how to earn more money, how to live the life you want to live , how to achieve your goals and dreams, and how to make this world better. These are things in which technologies help us. If our society and social leaders spend some time learning and educate about the technologies to common people then our India will grow fast. After the knowledge of technologies , we can be number 1 in many things. But our society is influenced by Politicians more than technologies .

Improving education is a huge issue (and always has been). Test scores, our perceived performance against other countries, and other factors have pushed education to the forefront of national politics, right behind healthcare reform. Technology can be used to improve teaching and learning and Technology can help with these projects and skills. Students can create things such as web sites, blogs, and multimedia presentations as part of their project. They can use the web for research and as a resource. They can connect with students at other schools and do collaborative work with them.

She spoke to Quartz about the highs and lows of what technology brings to the crafts sector, and its changing nature in an evolving economy. Edited excerpts:

How is technology changing the life of artisans?

First, we need to distinguish between the kinds of technology at play. Digital technology (like Instagram and WhatsApp) is helping to bring higher outreach for, and better promotion of, crafts. When a craftsperson gets the hang of it, he or she can use it to take good photographs and set proper prices. Selling online can be quite whimsical and demand is generally erratic. Digital technology can help them understand how many pieces they may have to keep as buffer.

Yet, touch and feel must continue to be important. Without that, a power loom item can be sold as a handloom one, for instance. Craftspersons don’t know how to cheat, but the intermediaries don’t care about lying. Websites like Amazon have millions of products listed as handmade.

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Technology also helped to shape agricultural practices, which helped ancient societies to thrive, and formed the backbone of the powerful economies of antiquity. The invention of irrigation systems, architectural structures, the invention of glass, and the use of baked clay all played a part in the In fact, two of the most important examples of how technology helped change human societal behavior and perhaps evolution is the development of stone tools and the ability to harness fire. Both aided in the survival of early hunter societies that created the ancient behaviors that Homo sapiens are known for

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This is where culture comes in, and crafts need to be seen as an important part of India’s culture. Why should crafts be sold only online? There should be various marketplaces. That is why you cannot push for digital marketing alone.

Malini Awasthi standing in front of a store© Provided by Atlantic Media, Inc.

Jaya Jaitly.

Even so, technology can make a huge impact in terms of awareness. A programme like Google Arts & Culture, which shows the true process of creation and makes people realise how difficult it is to create something, ensures buyers don’t bargain for handmade things.

Given the potential, why is India unable to become a top seller in the global crafts market?

China is the world leader. It has mechanised its crafts processes by up to 80%. It is nearly impossible for artisans to make mass-produced, standardised products completely by hand. In China, each part of a craft piece is created on a machine and then later put together by hand.

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Technology improves a school’s abilities to meet the needs of all types of students. Now, students with hearing, speaking or seeing impairments, or those who are largely housebound, can still receive a quality education. Technology allows teachers to keep students up to date on not only current events, but also brand-new research and cutting-edge discoveries. Through using PowerPoint, YouTube, blogging technology , and the power of a good search engine, teachers can help their students understand the modern world they’re living in much better than if they didn’t have these tools.

How can technology improve communication: Technology exists since machineries started to be invented. From the first electronic thing technology wanted to be more. Finally, Technology Improves Communication through inventions and through new gadgets. Nowadays, communication on gadgets is essential. The newer the gadget the best the communication results. To lead a normal life , you have to adapt to the new technology and improve your communication, or else you will remain behind with all the latest things and you will remain alone.

Indian crafts, though, are true crafts and not mechanised. The craftspeople here earn more than those abroad. Which is why, I think we should not look at export numbers. We should rather focus on domestic marketing and livelihood support. Our crafts are still used in homes and appreciated. In the West, they are often seen as decorative, exotic products.

The other issue with exports is that buyers want things a certain way—standardised, and with rigid schedules. This is not a part of the culture of our craftspeople, they are not machines. These rigid guidelines make way for mediocre things to be sold as crafts.

People have a lot of disposable income to spend on Indian crafts. Our middle class is rapidly increasing and foreign brands are chasing our middle class. Shouldn’t we be doing that, too?

Do you feel Indians are inured to crafts traditions because we see them everywhere?

Yes, it is often like a glut in front of our eyes. But why do we put these handmade items as a separate category of “crafts?” We don’t call the things we buy for our house and cultural use, as craft or shilpa vastu. You will just say you want a sari or a matka (earthen pot). You buy a thing of utility and need. Our fault is that we’re replicating the Western attitude of putting crafts in a boxwhich is slightly condescending.

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The matani pachedis of Ahmedabad are basically cloths that are worshipped. Would you call it textile art or something you pray to? Will the handmade ones be displayed as crafts inside a museum shop and only a couple of them sold? If these remain a part of cultural practice, there will be plenty sold every day. Why are we looking at craft from an English-speaking, urban prism?

Indian crafts have a use, a festival when a specific craft is popular, a time of the year, an occasion. But we have forgotten all that and are now giving ourselves the wrong standard to measure ourselves against.

Do you feel tech will lead to further commodification of the crafts?

Crafts have always been a commodity. Karigari (artisanship) is also a kala (art) in India, not like art for arts’ sake in the West. The potter cannot survive if he makes only two pots a year. Indian craftspeople are far more serious and focussed about their output. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Is there enough innovation in the crafts that caters to a changing economy and aesthetic?

In some cases, there is true innovation. Sometimes, it happens when craftspeople work with designers. They certainly make interesting things that reflect changing times. At times, they even innovate on their own, which is a sign of confidence in their own skill.

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One of the pillars on which I curated the Google Arts & Culture project was innovation, because if you have marketed well, you have the courage and confidence to innovate. If you find a craftsperson stuck and not innovating, it is usually because he or she has not had enough marketing success. Or, the craftsperson is semi-skilled and apathetic.

Has the skilling landscape changed among craftspeople?

Skills pass on through generations if the parent is doing well. Technology has made life easier, but that also means young people don’t see value in the hard work that goes into crafts. But there are also enough examples of kids who have gone away to study or work, but come back to their family’s crafting traditions. I have seen a fourth-generation weaver say that his toddler will take up the family’s traditional business. It all depends on whether their business is thriving, and not so much on acquired skills.

A lot also depends on how different states engage with their crafts communities. Ones like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been very difficult to energise, but southern India is very energetic. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has been very deskilling, too. Whatever money the men and women get under the scheme, they take it and do not work for the rest of the day. MGNREGA has not seriously focussed on craftspeople’s livelihoods.

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