Textile Minister Anand Sharma on Sunday strongly batted for banks providing easy credit to artisans, craftsmen and weavers, like the way loans were disbursed to big industries, saying they have to find the “right balance”.

“...What percentage of lending by the banks (to artisans)? Miniscule. The same question is not put when billions are lent to big industries,” Mr. Sharma said after inaugurating the World Crafts Summit here.

Banks have to play an important role to enable artisans and craftsmen get easy and adequate credit, he said, adding “Sometimes, they may default. If easy access to credit is there, market linkages are there, we will be able to help them”.

“…I have to ensure that industry also gets easy access to credit before there are howls of protests,” he said, adding that there has to be “right balance” by banks.

Elaborating on the steps taken by the government, he said the National Institute of Design, which has done lot of work to support artisans, will soon be declared an ‘an Institution of Excellence.’

Efforts are also on to establish four more NIDs in the country, the Minister said.

The government is also seriously thinking to create an academy for handicrafts on the pattern of national academies.

Citing the success story of Varghese Kurien, who ushered in ‘white revolution’, Sharma wondered why the same cooperative model cannot be adopted for the handicrafts sector to empower people in the country.

Highlighting the response that the products of craftsmen from the country received abroad, Mr. Sharma said, “But our poor artisans, they cannot access those markets. So, we have taken a number of decisions here. Because a big major decision gets trapped or someone makes some noise, which is part of political discourse and part of politics.”

Referring to FDI in retail sector, Mr. Sharma said, “...Our policies, our decisions have a distinct Indian imprint...a minimum of 30 per cent of the sourcing has to be from MSMes, cottage and village industries. I was surprised when I was informed that already huge amount of sourcing is being done from India.”

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