Union commerce minister Anand Sharma, who inaugurated the summit, called upon banks and financial institutions to provide loans to artisans. “Access to easy credit has to be there for artisans, and banks have to be supportive where this is concerned,” he said.

“Their crafts are exquisite but they hardly are able to make ends meet with what they earn. They need exposure to design and markets,” he added.

Mr. Sharma said that his ministry was considering creating an academy for arts and handicrafts. He hoped that the Central Planning Commission would extend support to make this a reality.

Textile secretary Kiran Dhingra said that of the 6.8 million craftsmen in the country, over 40 per cent were women who could be trained in marketing skills.

Syeda Hameed, member of the Planning Commission said that the next five-year-plan would lay stress on the development of native handicrafts and art.

Usha Krishna, president of WCC said that the summit was a tribute to those human hands that crafted beauty. ‘Kai’ means hand and ‘Valam’ means prosperity, she added.