India has a long history of art and craft that has evolved over many generations and decades. The craftsmanship and tradition of quality is embedded deep into the mindset of Indian craftsmen. Most Indians know and / or believe this, but do they appreciate it?
In recent conversations with Europeans, a statement that stood out for us was, "...you guys are brilliant at arts and crafts, as good as and probably better than us Italians!.....". This statement stood out from the conversation because,
This raised the question of what did Indians really appreciate about their heritage and history? The conversations indeed revealed a deeper thought process that seemed to centre on the fact that people did not really appreciate, either in terms of their willingness to pay or really valuing the craftsmanship, the craftsmen and the crafts that have existed in India for decades.
If one analyses the buying behavior of urban India, it is very much focused on consumption of western styles and mass-produced products. A huge premium is placed on hand-made and handcrafted products in the West and a lot of people are willing to pay exorbitant amounts for Western luxury brands. But these same people are likely to under-value (and pay less) for the handcrafted styles created in India. They forget that the artisans and craftsmen have learnt the skills and techniques over many generations and have passed them along in the family.
These are not skills learnt in a school or over a 3-year training period, but skills acquired over generations. And there is no substitute for this sort of training and the beautiful end result that this produces. This is a problem in a lot of emerging and growing economies because what has been available at home over many generations is easily ignored. We hope this attitude is going to change and that Indians truly start to appreciate the heritage and tradition of craft in the country.