The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee presented Shilp Guru awards and National Awards to master craftspersons at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan Cultural Centre, New Delhi today. 9 Shilp Gurus and 19 National Awardees received the awards for the year 2015. The main objective of the awards is to give recognition to masters for their excellence in craftsmanship and valuable contribution to Indian Handicrafts.Speaking on the occasion, the President said that by recognizing craft persons through conferment of the awards today, we are encouraging innovation and creativity in this field. He applauded the efforts of the Ministry of Textiles to promote, through these important awards, the creation of master pieces of art and make India a hub of master craft persons. He stated that our indigenous handicrafts are a cherished aspect of the Indian way of life. Their extensive range reflects our nation’s diversity and infinite creativity. Each region of our vast nation has its unique style and tradition. These elements stem from the ancient life-rhythms of the society.The President said that good quality product has an international reach. The growth in handicraft exports at 16 percent in 2015-16 is an indication of the importance this sector is assuming in our export basket. Proactive steps are needed to realize the full potential of this sector. Promotion of products in both domestic and international markets would expand its geographic reach, achieve economies of scale and make production more viable. Policy support will be necessary to evolve profitable market linkages and ensure easier access to bank credit.
The President said that greater attention is needed for capacity building and skills recharge. “Guru Shishya Parampara” has been an important aspect of our traditional arts and crafts. Master-craftsmen, down the ages, have taken pride in passing on their skills to their succeeding generations. The long tradition of knowledge transfer in handicrafts must continue. In addition, our education system would do well to pursue a holistic course curriculum for imparting skills in fine arts. It will help identify hidden talent and ingenuity in many a student.Congratulating the awardees, the Union Textiles Minister Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani said that the Awards are the nation’s gratitude to all mastercraftspersons for their outstanding contribution in the field of handicrafts. The Minister said that the recognition encourages all artisan brothers and sisters to work hard and bring prosperity to the handicrafts sector. The Minister said that it has been decided to give a larger share of skill upgradation budget to the scheme “Guru Shishya Parampara” for artisans.She said that in order to harness the inherent potential of the handicraft sector, the Ministry of Textiles is providing thrust through skill upgradation, capacity building and initiatives arrived at integrating technology with craft techniques catalysing value addition in the craft products.
The Minister also mentioned the recent initiatives taken by the Ministry for the empowerment of artisans like “Pehchan” Aadhar linked national database, national artisans portal, creating Common Facilities Centre etc. She said that the Government’s dream is that people in all corners of the globe proudly ask for “Made in India” handicrafts products.MoS, Textiles, Shri Ajay Tamta congratulated the artisans and welcomed their family members too, saying that creation of such exquisite craftsmanship is not possible without the active cooperation of family members. He added that the Government is committed to the welfare of the artisans and in ensuring that the benefits reach the intended beneficiaries.Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, Textiles, Smt. Rashmi Verma said that the holding of the presentation ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhawan for the first time has added new glory to these awards. She assured artisans that the Government will take their full support in carrying forward India’s rich craft traditions.Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Shri Alok Kumar and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.Shilp Guru Award consists of a gold coin, Rs. 2,00,000/- in cash, a Tamrapatra, an Angavastram and a certificate. National Award consists of Rs. 1,00,000/- in cash, a Tamrapatra, an Angavastram and a certificate. The Shilp Guru Awards, National Awards and National Merit Certificate are awarded to a craftsperson only once in a lifetime, to encourage master craftspersons to maintain excellence in craftsmanship and keep alive our old tradition.