Abolition of handicrafts board a ‘worrying’ move, says NGO

Minimum government and maximum governance is reason for decision, says Centre

August 06, 2020 05:47 am | Updated 05:47 am IST - NEW DELHI

Laila Tyabji, founder of NGO Dastkar. File

Laila Tyabji, founder of NGO Dastkar. File

The Centre has abolished the All-India Handicrafts Board, a body meant to advise the Textile Ministry on development programmes for handicrafts, citing the Narendra Modi government’s “vision of minimum government and maximum governance” as the reason, according to a gazette notification published on Tuesday.

The Monday notification by Textile Ministry’s Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) Shantmanu said: “In consonance with the government of India vision of ‘Minimum Government and Maximum Governance’, a leaner government machinery and the need for systematic rationalisation of government bodies, the Government of India has abolished All India Handicrafts Board with effect from the date of issue of this resolution. (sic)”

The board, chaired by the Textile Minister, included over 80 non-official members who are engaged in handicrafts across the country. The board “gives its advice to the government in formulation of the overall Development Programmes in Handicrafts Sector, keeping in view socio-Economic cultural and artistic perspective. (sic),” the Ministry’s website said.

Reacting to the development, Laila Tyabji, founder of the NGO Dastkar that promotes handicrafts, said it was a ‘worrying’ move.

A complete surprise

“Strange things happen quietly in COVID times — without even a whisper of warning. The news that the almost 70-year-old All India Handicrafts Board, established in 1952 by Pupul Jayakar and nurtured by Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, has been abolished came as a complete surprise,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

She said the board had been the one official forum where weavers and craftspeople could raise their voices directly and that they were empowered to advise the government on policy and spending.

“The spaces where people themselves can interact directly with government, or be part of their own governance, are certainly becoming leaner and increasingly few in number. It is worrying...We will miss that wealth of collective wisdom at a time when craftspeople and the sector are struggling for survival and imaginative solutions,” she wrote.

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