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    All India Handicrafts Board

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    An advisory body established under the Ministry of Textiles, the All India Handicrafts Board was responsible for assisting government bodies with the formulation of policies aimed at developing craft practices and addressing issues faced by artisans. Established in 1952 in New Delhi, the board’s key functions were to liaise with state governments on issues pertaining to development and management; to advise the central government on aid to be rendered to the state governments; and to engage directly with and provide interventions to the handicraft sector. In the latter capacity, it also functioned as an official forum for craftspeople and weavers to voice their grievances and was one of only a few government bodies to have a significant representation of people from the craft sector.

    The Handicrafts Board was set up as a single body by Pupul Jayakar, under the aegis of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, before being split, in 1953, into handicrafts and handlooms divisions. The former included special weaves, decorative textiles such as brocades and zardosi, block-prints and embroidery, while the latter included handloom textiles. The board established Regional Design Centres in Delhi, Calcutta (now Kolkata), Bombay (now Mumbai) and Bangalore (now Bengaluru) in the 1950s to complement the work being done by State Design Centres in Lucknow, Srinagar, Calcutta, Imphal and Indore. Starting from 1955, the board established twenty-two Pilot Development Centres across India to oversee various developmental initiatives. It also subsequently established a Handicrafts Development Centre in New Delhi, which served as a platform to experiment with and design tools and techniques. Successful innovations were made available to the design centres, who would then sell them to craftspersons in order to increase their efficiency and productivity. Additionally, it compiled survey reports of craft practices from particular geographic areas and used the findings to recommend measures to aid in the development of the surveyed crafts and assist those involved in their production. The board was also involved in producing reports and publications, amongst which are Indian Printed Textiles (1950; 1960), Traditional Embroidery of India, Parts 1 & 2 (1961, 1963), Banaras Brocades (1966), Craft Designs (1971), Indian Kalamkari (1978) and The Household Sector: Study of Jari Industry in Surat (1995). It had at various times collaborated and consulted with leading experts in textile and craft such as Jasleen Dhamija and KG Subramanyan, to help develop its programmes and policies.

    The Handicrafts Board was reconstituted from 2013–15 as the All India Handicrafts Board, under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Textiles. It comprised official members from state and central governments as well as non-official members from the handicrafts industry. In 2015, the term of the sixty-five-member board expired, after which appointments were made to fill the posts. It was finally dissolved on 27 July 2020, following an order issued by the Ministry of Textiles.


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