Wednesday, June 6, 2007

the need for an artisans' directory

There is a growing demand for people skilled in traditional building technologies. The need for these indigenous skills is mainly in three areas : building of private “heritage” and “ecotourism” resorts; in the recent government program with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on ‘Endogenous’ or ‘Rural’ Tourism and in private “farmhouses” or independent “ethnic” houses that the elite urbanite has begun to build. Since this trend of building with traditional materials is now substantial, it is felt that this may be an appropriate time to add a catalyst to this development.

The reasons for supporting indigenous craftsmanship are – one, to strengthen livelihoods; two, to fill the increasing void in contemporary architecture in india, which is at present adopting a modern, western architecture and three, indigenous technologies use a sustainable approach to natural resources.

The Endogenous Tourism Program has been initiated in 36 craft-based villages/towns all over India. It is jointly supported by UNDP and the Govt. of India. These projects will showcase traditional arts, culture and heritage at rural and semi-urban locations. The state departments of tourism are being encouraged to provide a built-environment that uses a vernacular vocabulary. Therefore, not only will the employment opportunities increase in crafts and tourism-related activities, but also for people skilled in indigenous technologies.

People in the urban areas are buying small tracts of agricultural land on the outskirts of the city where it is permissible to build a “farmhouse” – a shelter to enable a person to carry out his farm activities. This however is being used by the urban dweller to build for himself a weekend retreat. This urbanite is being influenced by the heritage resort concept and farmhouses are mostly built using local materials and local building skills because the “pucca” structure or permanent house in concrete slab is not allowed.

When there is enough patronage and a market available for indigneous skills, the first step may be to connect the artisan to a project and the second step to train or contemporise his skill and to supplement it with other skills such as marketing and opportunity recognition. If a “pull force” can be generated instead of a “push force” it is anticipated that the artisan will re-skill and re-train himself according to the demand.

No comments: