As India opens up her doors to the multinationals during the era of economic reform and liberalized market, putting an end to the license raj, it is not only the economies that often meet in the global market sphere, but also the people and cultures, which bring a new dimension to the multi-cultural setting. The magic of globalization is that during the modern times, there is always a cross-cultural interaction of both the local and 'global' and notwithstanding many contradictions, global village is now not just a possibility, but a reality. Talking about Indian Handicrafts, which constitutes a significant segment of the decentralized sector of our economy, its export has reached at a commendable height. Indian folk art and crafts which are the integral parts of the Indian culture and tradition are in high demand among the western consumers. Again, foreign fashion industry borrows a great deal from Indian appliqud motifs Saree designs. Needless to say, the borders between the world cultures are now eroding out and becoming irrelevant.

But despite all these, the real concern for many of us is that, can the 'local' really meet with the 'global' by truly sustaining its localness? The biggest problem in the Indian Handicraft industry is that the village craftsmen in our society remain concerned that with free trade and mass production, hand made products from other parts of the world will out price the products of their hard labour. So the basic question arises, does globalization has answer for every human problems that the earth is facing now? The answer is a clear 'No'. Apparently the world is now looking back to the Gandhian way of economic development and social progress. Gandhi propounded that economic development can be best achieved, when the individual is an integral part of the community he is living in, when the production of goods is in a small scale & at a local level and when the homemade handicrafts are given the preference. Gandhi advocated the revival of crafts industry and greater autonomy to village republics. He never objected to international trade, when exploitation was avoided.

While briefly analyzing the theoretical understanding of globalization, this paper will look at the globalization in India and its impact on its handicrafts and craft persons, by assessing both the opportunities and threat from globalization process. Besides, the paper will also analyze the Gandhian approach to the handicrafts industry and how it could be helpful in tackling the problems that have aroused out of the globalization process.

The article was published in Gandhi Marg, Vol. 30, No. 1, April-June: 2008

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About the Author:

The author is Doctoral student of Sociology at the Center of the Study of Social Systems (CSSS), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.