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. 

All these years on, it remained the one official forum, however watered down, where the voices and views of weavers and craftspeople could be expressed directly. One place where  representatives of the sector were present in considerable numbers, and were actually empowered to advise  the Government in policy and sectorial spending.

The given rationale for “abolishing” it (the notification is stark – it doesn’t say “re-constituting” it, or “dissolving” it)  is that  the move is “in consonance with the Govt’s vision of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance” and “a leaner Government machinery”.

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.

There were 80+ members who were not serving bureaucrats were primarily actual makers and practitioners, who could speak with authority and real knowledge.

We will miss that wealth of collective wisdom at a time when craftspeople and the sector are struggling for survival and imaginative solutions.

RESOLUTIONNew Delhi, the 27th July, 2020No.1/13/2017-DCHL/Coordn/AIHB.—In consonance with the Government of India vision of “Minimum Government and Maximum Governance’, a leaner Government Machinery and the need for systematic rationalization of Government bodies, the Government of India has abolished All India Handloom Board with effect from the date of issue of this resolution.SANJAY RASTOGI, Development Commissioner for Handloom