Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran on Wednesday announced that his Ministry would give top priority to put together schemes and other initiatives to promote marketing of handicraft and handloom products.

Presenting the national awards for handicraft artisans and handloom weavers for 2007 and 2008, he said his aim was to ensure that artisans and weavers graduate from being mere producers to become entrepreneurs and finally exporters themselves.

The goal would be to ensure that at any given point of time, India would have the requisite resources to meet any demand from any part of the world. “Our dream should be that people in all corners of the globe proudly ask for ‘Made in India' handloom and handicrafts products.''

He said his Ministry had set an export target of $2.2 billion for handicrafts and $300 million for handlooms in the current financial year in view of the rapid growth achieved by the two sectors in recent times.

Exports of handicrafts in the first half of the current financial year were $1.07 billion, about 24 per cent up from $864 million achieved in the first half of last year.

Handloom exports in the first half of the current financial year, in turn was $116.76 million, an increase of 63 per cent over $71.65 million achieved during the same period last year, he said.

He also announced that his Ministry was considering launching a Rs.136-crore scheme to provide artisans in the North-eastern regions facilities for design development, marketing, infrastructure and skill upgradation.

On the occasion, while 20 legendary master craftsmen were presented the prestigious ‘Shilp Guru' award, 50 other master artisans and 41 master weavers were presented certificates of merit.

The winners of the ‘Shilp Guru' award were each presented with one mounted gold coin, one shawl and a citation. In addition, each would be eligible for a financial assistance of up to Rs.6 lakh to innovate and create five new products of high level of excellence, high aesthetic value and high quality.

The other award winners were each presented with a cash prize of Rs.1 lakh, a certificate, a ‘tamrapatra' and an ‘angavastram'.

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