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Legal Issues and Governmental Policies

Characteristics of Indian Handicraft Items
The characteristics of Indian Handicraft Items, as defined by the Government of India are:

  • They are quota free and neutral to fiber content or composition, barring 100% pure silk.
  • They include Garments, Made-up and Clothing Accessories.
  • Are produced in cottage industries.
  • Should not have zippers.
  • Must be ornamented using any one or more of the following Indian folk styles:
  • Hand painting, Hand printing, Batik, Tie and Dye, Kalamkari.
  • Hand embroidery, Crocheting.
  • Appliqu,work of sequins, wooden or glass beads, shells, mirror, ornamental motifs of textile materials.
  • Extra warp of welt ornamentation of silk, art silk or zari threads.
  • Should conform to shape and styles of each item as defined in the agreed list of different countries.
  • Should satisfy the dimensional aspects.

Note: As per the latest MoU signed between India & USA the following additional features are to be considered: Indian Items may not include closure devices such as zippers, elastic (any form), elasticized fabric (any form), hook-and-pile fasteners (such as "Velcro" or other similar holding fabric). In addition, buttons (including snap buttons) may not be used as a means of securing at the waist in such Indian Items as salwar, ghagra/lahenga and pavadai.

When considering the design and/or ornamentation, it should be a uniquely "traditional and historical Indian" design. The following are some examples of motifs and/or ornamentation which will not be considered of traditional and historic Indian design: airplanes, buses, cowboys, cartoon characters, logos of products/programs, holiday/festival, designs such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc.

The India item/fabric must be ornamented using one of the following methods:

  • Hand painting (including Kalamkari) or hand printing or handicraft tie and dye or handicraft Batik,
  • Embroidered or crocheted ornamentation,
  • Appliqué work or sequins, glass or wooden beads, shells, mirrors or ornamental motif of textile and other,
  • Extra weft ornamentation of cotton, silk, zari (metal thread in gold/silver) wool or any other fiber yarn.

(Churidar pyjama, salwar and gararra need not be ornamented.)

Government Boards and Schemes
Government Regulations and Policies
The congregation of events prompted governments to take great leaps for the protection and promotion of handicrafts through launching carnivals displaying craftsmen in the throes of producing handicrafts.The following are some reasons for the necessary support of handicrafts:

  • Create jobs for the urban dwellers keen to parade their talent and earn income and the rural families to fill in the gap between the seasons of cultivation and harvest and in leisure times
  • Encourage production of hand-made fabrics and rugs among the nomadic communities who have ample heads of cattle
  • Expand non-oil exports and supply parts of foreign exchange needs
  • Introduce the rich traditional Indian culture at the international markets
  • Endorse the handicrafts items, which bear the regional cultural values in their design and colors

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act
The law covers all Indian and Indian-style traditional and contemporary arts and crafts produced after 1935. The Act broadly applies to the marketing of arts and crafts by any person in the United States. Some traditional items frequently copied by non-Indians include Indian-style jewellery, pottery, baskets, carved stone fetishes, woven rugs, kachina dolls, and clothing. All products must be marketed truthfully regarding the Indian heritage and tribal affiliation of the producers, so as not to mislead the consumer. It is illegal to market an art or craft item using the name of a tribe if a member, or certified Indian artisan of that tribe did not actually create the art or craft item.

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 is a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States. It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian Tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States. For a first time violation of the Act, an individual can face civil or criminal penalties up to a $250,000 fine or a 5-year prison term, or both. If a business violates the Act, it can face civil penalties or can be prosecuted and fined up to $10,00,000. Under the Act, an Indian is defined as a member of any federally or State recognized Indian Tribe, or an individual certified as an Indian artisan by an Indian Tribe.

Crafts Council of India
Crafts Council of India is a voluntary, non - governmental organisation, working in the craft sector, for the welfare of crafts persons and the development of handicrafts. CCI has its headquarters in Chennai. CCI is the apex body with a network of 14 affiliated State Councils. Crafts Council of India is involved in the areas of craft documentation, design development, training of craftspersons and upgradation of tools and technology.

Crafts Council of India is affiliated to the World Crafts Council which is the only non - governmental international organization,working in the craft sector. The World Crafts Council is organized into five regions and is affiliated to UNESCO. Crafts Council of India is involved in all the activities of World Crafts Council especially in the Asia - Pacific region.

Associations and Organizations
All India Handicrafts Board
The All India Handicrafts Board was originally set up in 1952 to advise the Government on problems of handicrafts and to suggest measures for improvement and development. The Board was also required to study technical, marketing, financial, organizational, artistic and other aspects of handicrafts and to formulate plans on these lines. Its function also included advice and assistance to the state Governments for planning and executing schemes for the development of handicrafts.

State and Union Territories

Each State and Union Territory has a department looking after the development and promotion of handicrafts. Many states including, Arunachal Padesh, Daman , Diu, Delhi and Goa have public sector corporations for marketing handicraft products. A few state corporations dealing with small-scale industries and other products have taken up marketing and export promotion of handicrafts. Besides taking up direct exports, these corporations are also expected to guide and help private exporters.

Central Corporations/Bodies

  • The Handicrafts and Handlooms Export Corporation of India (HHEC) is a subsidiary of the State Trading Corporation of India, and came into existence in June 1962. The corporation's policy in the field of direct exports is designed to develop new markets and expand traditional ones and to introduce new products suitable to the needs of the consumers abroad. The Corporation undertakes and executes wholesale orders, conducts retail sale operations through retail shops abroad, and participates and sells in major exhibitions of the world. HHEC also helps private exporters by affiliating them as business associates. It undertakes a number of publicity and promotional measures for the export of handicrafts and handloom products.
  • The Central Cottage Industries Corporation, Pvt. Ltd. is a registered society which had taken over from the Indian Cooperative Union. It runs the Central Cottage Industries Emporium (CCIE) at Janpath, New Delhi, the premier sales organization in Indian handicrafts. The CCIE has branches at Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and Jaipur. CCIE has grown by leaps and bounds in the successive years.
  • The All India Handloom Fabrics Marketing Cooperative Society Ltd. ,(56-58 Mittal Chambers, 5th Floor, Nariman Point, Bombay, India.), is sponsored and supported by the All India Handloom Board. This Cooperative runs handloom houses in Bombay, Delhi, Madras, Calcutta, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Hydrabad, Ernakulam, Vadodara and Vishakapatnam. It also has branches abroad in Lagos, Singapore, Kualalumpore, New York, Mauritius and Hamburg.

All India Associations
India has All India Organizations for three of its most popular handicrafts items,hand printed textiles, carpets and zari. These Associations serve as a platform for consultations among the manufacturers and exporters on one hand and the Handicrafts Board on the other. The Board uses these Associations to disseminate information useful to crafts.

  • All India Carpets Manufacturers Association; Post Box No. 63, Bhadohi, District Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India.
  • All India Federation of Zari Industry; Safe Deposit Chambers, Surat, Gujarat, India.
  • All India Textile Handprinting Industries Federation, 1106 Prasad Chambers, Swadeshi Mill Estate, Bombay, India.

Social- Voluntary Organizations
A number of social organizations including non profit making registered societies and cooperatives support the field of handicrafts. Their principal aim is to provide work to the poor craftsmen. Many of them run training cum production centres, while others are concerned with marketing. Certain voluntary organizations are running Regional Handicrafts Training Institutes for Women, under the All India Handicrafts Board.

  • Handicrafts Teacher's Training College (The Arts and Crafts Society), Adarsh Nagar, Worli, Bombay, India.
  • Regional Training Institute of Handicrafts (Bharat Sevak Samaj), Dharwar, Maharashtra, India.
  • Regional Handicrafts Training Institute for Women, (Andhra Mahila Sabha) Vidya Nagar, University Road, Hydrabad, India.
  • Regional Handicrafts Training Institute for Women, (Karma Kutir) 32 Ballygunge Palace, Callcutta, Bengal, India.