About Digital Cluster Development Programme (DCDP)
India’s craft traditions and craft skills, passed on from generation to generation, are not just an important part of its cultural identity but a crucial means of sustenance for numerous communities. According to official figures, there are about 70 lakh artisans engaged in craft production for their livelihood. As per unofficial figures, there are about 20 crore artisans who form the backbone of India’s non-farm rural economy.
Keeping this in mind, Digital Empowerment Foundation in partnership with the government and private organisations has initiated several projects that primarily involve inclusive and decentralised use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and other digital tools in critical aspects of cluster development, especially improving and scaling up weaving skills, designs, marketing and entrepreneurship, along with creating sustainable livelihood options for youth in the clusters.
The development focus of the model allows the integration of both the social and economic capital needs of targeted artisan communities in an effort to lead them towards inclusive growth. Projects under DigiKargha work with support from Media Lab Asia for Chanderiyaan, Ericsson for Baank-e-Loom, Mphasis for Musiri, Nokia for KanchiLoom, UNDP for Warli, and Microsoft for DigiKala, Kaulava and Pochampally.
DigiKargha, an initiative of Digital Empowerment Foundation, aims to support these clusters under the Digital Cluster Development Programme (DCDP) in an effort to lead them towards maturity and sustainability through digital empowerment and socio-economic sustainability.
DigiKargha is a platform that celebrates the digital artisans of India in an effort to safeguard the interests of India’s craftsmen
Need for empowering artisans
In India, there are more than 2000 traditional skill-based clusters covering various skills from textile designing, handicrafts, and glass, leather and brass goods to wooden industries. Out of 2000, there are 470 handloom clusters in India. According to the National Handloom Census 2012-2013, the sector is providing employment to about 65 lakh people in the country — the second largest employment sector after agriculture.
However, most of those working in the sector are suffering from exploitation, poor living conditions, extremely low wages and inaccessibility to direct market. The handloom- based clusters are unable to sustain their livelihood enterprise due to its very nature of being unorganised and in a dispersed structure, lack of education, lack of inadequate working capital, inadequate infrastructure, poor institutional framework and absolute disassociation from modern technologies including digital and Information & Communication Technologies. Hence, reluctance of younger generation to engage in their traditional arts and handicrafts is causing its rapid decline. Involving and engaging youth from the community is, thus, not only an integral part of the process of reviving traditional craft but also of ensuring that it sustains as a viable employment or entrepreneurial option.
DEF has been able to successfully implement projects under DigiKargha in the various locations through support from:
Media Lab Asia: It has supported the Chanderiyaan project in Chanderi cluster, Madhya Pradesh, by providing technological, financial and project aid.
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology: The ministry provided financial support to the Chanderiyaan project in Chanderi.
Internet Society: The society has supported the wireless for communities project in most clusters.
Microsoft: Microsoft has been a pillar for our weaver clusters in project Digikala (Barpali and Nupatna, Odisha), project Kaulava (Kollegal, Karnataka) and project Pochampally (Pochampally, Telangana). It has provided support to the activities, given technological aid and shared knowledge.
Ericsson: The corporation has provided comprehensive support to activities, technical know how and equipment in the weaver cluster of Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh for the Baank-e-Loom project.
Mphasis: The IT company has provided a holistic support to the project Musiri in Trichy, Tamil Nadu for the activities, infrastructure, guidance and sponsorship.
Nokia: The corporation has provided all round support for all activities, supported us with the required technical know-how and granted the desired equipment for our weaver cluster in Kanchipuram for the KanchiLoom project.