The assertion of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) chairman about the Northeast being a focus area needs to be implemented on the ground. The whole of the Northeast has traditionally been associated with handloom and handicrafts making in varied forms and this needs encouragement and patronage from the Government – something lacking in the region. The mandate of the KVIC being promotion of rural artisans engaged in traditional rural industries, it can make long-term and meaningful interventions to trigger a much-needed growth of the sector. The need is to reach out to the main stakeholders in the industry, i.e., the rural artisans and assess and address their constraints that have prevented a boom in the industry. Indeed, properly promoted, the traditional rural industries which do not call for big investment can transform the rural economy. It is for the KVIC fraternity to come together, share, respond, cooperate and build up a new approach in achieving the mandate and play a great role in facilitating inclusive sustainable rural development in the north-eastern region – something asserted by the KVIC Chairman. Since most of those engaged in the sector have been doing it traditionally with locally available raw materials and manpower, the authorities only need to take care of concerns such as value addition, market linkage and institutional finance. Expanding business opportunities beyond local markets is another imperative if the artisans were to get better remunerative prices for their hard work. In today’s globalized world, marketing is far from a difficult proposition with online facilities doing away with the constraints of reaching out to buyers far away from the region. A dedicated website for the produce of rural industries can be of great help in showcasing the beauty and potential of the sector before a global audience.
It goes without saying that professionalism counts a lot in any business activity, with the consumers today far more aware than before and having a far wider choice to choose from. Hence, infusing a sense of professionalism and dynamism in the way the Khadi outlets operate is a necessity. A look at the existing Khadi stalls will make it clear that these lack essential attributes to attract buyers. Many Khadi outlets as well as Khadi institutions in the State had been closed down and those should be reopened and made to function professionally. There should be regular awareness camps to make the people aware of job opportunities in Khadi and village industries. Traditional rural industries being intrinsic to the cultural ethos of the Northeast and which provide livelihood to many indigenous families, these exquisite crafts done mostly within their households since ages need immediate interventions to make those sustainable. The inherent commercial potential of what could have been a flourishing industry has long been ignored and the time has come to change this.