India can boast of one of the oldest civilizations of the world. The country’s vast cultural and ethnic diversity is showcased in its wide array of fascinating handicrafts.The south Indian state of Karnataka is known for its handicraft industry and its unique, traditional masterpieces which are made from a variety of materials using intricate motifs and time-tested as well as modern techniques. The dense forests of Karnataka, rich in flora and fauna, have inspired a variety of crafts. The sandalwood and rosewood grown in abundance in Karnataka have led to the legacy of exquisite sandalwood carvings and intricate rosewood inlay work. Age-old traditions have been kept alive by passing on jealously guarded techniques from generation to generation. However, the onslaught of modernization has sidelined these craftsmen due to their lack of exposure to the modern global culture.
To ensure that the State's rich tradition of exquisite craftsmanship is preserved, developed and promoted, the Government of Karnataka established the "Karnataka State Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd (KSHDCL)" in 1964.
KSHDCL has taken up the following initiatives:
- Identify places where craftsmen are concentrated and set up craft complexes with facilities like living-cum-work sheds equipped with tools and machinery.
- Provide raw materials like sandalwood, zinc and silver at subsidized rates to the craftsmen.
- Train craftsmen in creating new designs in mediums like sandalwood, rosewood, lacquer and bronze.
- Keep craftsmen updated on the changing market trends, by exposing them to the latest technology.
- Look after requirements of the handicraft industry, for instance, wood-seasoning plants set up at the Multi Craft Complex in Mysore and at the Lacquer ware Craft Complex in Channapatna.