The recently concluded Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has resolved to explore new jobs and livelihood opportunities for the majority of people in India. Keeping in view of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the livelihood sector, the RSS Pratinidhi Sabha has resolved to adopt a Bharat-centric economic model which will meet the growing employment need and increase India’s self-reliance in the sectors like agriculture, exports, industry and services. The RSS think tank will find homegrown sustainable solutions to provide gainful employment to ever-expanding human resources. Besides, the Bharat-centric development will utilize the abundant natural and human resources in a judicious and sustainable manner. Over decades, the RSS has been instilling discipline and patriotism in the minds of youth; the two ingredients of nation-building will help nurture a Bharat-specific development.
India’s natural sector provides immense opportunities for people for earning their livelihood on a sustainable basis. India’s hundreds of environment-friendly handicraft and weaving traditions once contributed to make India the richest country in the world. The Roman Officer and Encyclopedist, Pliny in 23 to 79 AD noted that Indian traders are taking away their gold in exchange for their handicrafts. In fact, the fine handicrafts and handloom clothes produced in Indian cottage industries were more precious than gold. The classic handicraft items preserved in museums across the country are proof enough of Indian artisans’ skill and creativity to add high value to ordinary objects. A skilled patta Chitra artist of Odisha can convert an ordinary patta (cloth base) of 50 sq feet into a precious art which can be sold at above Rs 1,00,000.00. Similarly, a senior Chikankari artisan of Lucknow and an Appliqué artisan of Pipili can use more than 60 stitching patterns to create poetry on clothes which carry a high price tag in the foreign craft bazaar. The tribal artisans of Chhattisgarh create bewitching artistry on iron and wood which are worth gold. Unfortunately, the Naxal movement has destroyed many priceless handicraft traditions of Chhattisgarh. The Batua craft of Bhopal, the Bandhani and Beadwork of Gujarat, the Dhokra craft of Adilabad and Odisha, the Bidri craft of Bidar, the Papier Mache and Carpet of Kashmir, the Wood and Ivory work of Rajasthan, the weaving traditions of Assam, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha etc are a few examples. Though the negative influence of western culture, consumerism and the cheap plastic utility and decorative items in the market has a negative impact on the sale of classy Indian handicrafts, the Indian artisans still hone their skill and create objects of beauty.
The global demand for environmentally friendly handicraft items is always on the rise. The demand for handicrafts in the global market was $ 680.10 billion which is expected to rise to $ 1252 billion per the ICMA RC group report. India can tap this export opportunity if it protects and preserves the handicraft skill and artistry which is the USP of handicrafts. Indian artisans add high value to ordinary objects with their skill, imagination and creativity. Though China produces tons of lookalike Indian handicrafts and paintings with the help of machines and computers, those items can’t match the hand-crafted products made by skilled Indian artisans. Only a genuine artist can instil life into lifeless objects with imagination and creativity. An Odissi painter and stone artisans of Odisha used to make the human figures express love, anger and pity with amazing accuracy. Precious granite stone blocks from the Chittoor district of Telangana are being transported to Arab countries to be sculpted and installed in hotels and offices; those stone blocks get high-value addition to those countries. Indian artisans can add value to the stones in India so that the blocks can be sold at a far higher price. In ancient times, India was called the golden bird because it added high value to ordinary objects available in nature.
Like handicrafts, India is a treasure trove of exotic native food. Today the food sufficiency in the world crumbles under the pressure of monoculture and high subsidy-backed unsustainable methods of cultivation. India still holds the key with a wide range of native food crops with enough gene purity. The world is failing to address a catastrophic biodiversity collapse that not only threatens to wipe out beloved species and invaluable genetic diversity but endangers humanity’s food supply, health and security, said the recently published United Nations report. India’s rich crop diversity can be tapped to meet the food and nutrition needs of people. Indians can knit together their immense intellectual capacity to distinguish opportunities from the global traps so that a Bharat-specific development model could emerge.
India’s nearly 15 crore farmers and 42 crore people in the unorganized sector together contribute nearly 72% of the country’s GDP. The share of agriculture was at 19.9% in 2020-21 while the unorganized sector contributed 52% of the GDP in the FY 2018. The long spell of the pandemic has hit the unorganized sector hard. The people in the unorganized sector in fact do not need any help; what they need is a healthy socio-cultural environment, ever-vigilant social workers, good bankers, policemen and judges etc. Good police personnel, a transparent judiciary and friendly people in the administration can ensure the ease of doing business in the unorganized sector.
People in the unorganized sector make varieties of eatables, biodegradable utility and decorative items, build urban infrastructures, do the fishing activities, run Kirana shops, open restaurants, Dhaba and sell hundreds of minor forest products etc. Though many of them are poor and illiterate they have the rich experience and skills to earn a decent living. Besides, the farming and unorganized sector, India has a vibrant pilgrim sector, tourism sector, wildlife tourism sector, forestry sector, animal husbandry sector and horticulture sector etc which can generate huge employment.
The Union government has implemented a gamut of development programs to boost economic activities in the multiple sectors of the country. One of the most impressive steps is the zero budget natural farming which will bring a sea change in the agriculture policy across the world. The Ministry of Agriculture plans to promote Natural Farming on 12 lakh hectares in the next five years with an outlay of Rs 2500 crore. As per the Union Budget, chemical-free natural farming will be implemented across the country. A close understanding and dedicated monitoring of these natural sectors will make India a strong country. India has the potential to become a sustainable development model for the entire world which will take care of the physical, mental, spiritual and economic needs of people.