From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : PM Vishwakarma scheme and its provisions
Mains level : key challenges faced by professionals engaged in traditional crafts and skills and significance of PM Vishwakarma scheme,
What’s the news?
- On September 17, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the PM Vishwakarma scheme in New Delhi on the occasion of Vishwakarma Jayanti.
- Recently launched, the PM Vishwakarma scheme, introduced during his Independence Day speech a month earlier, aims to support traditional craftsmen and economically marginalized communities, especially the OBC, while also serving as a strategic move ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
- Vishwakarma, a revered figure in Hindu mythology, is regarded as the divine architect of the gods, a master craftsman, and a divine carpenter.
- He is celebrated as the patron deity of workers, artisans, and artists, responsible for crafting the gods’ weapons, cities, and chariots.
- The scheme takes its name from this emblematic figure, symbolizing the recognition and empowerment of skilled laborers.
What is the Vishwakarma scheme?
- The Vishwakarma scheme is a new government initiative fully funded by the central government and has a budgetary allocation of Rs 13,000 crore.
- The scheme is designed to address the challenges faced by professionals engaged in traditional crafts and skills, often passed down through generations within their families.
- This includes artisans such as carpenters, goldsmiths, masons, laundry workers, barbers, and others engaged in traditional crafts and skills.
- The scheme has ambitious coverage goals, aiming to support five lakh families in the first year and eventually reaching 30 lakh families over five years.
- It also seeks to integrate Vishwakarmas into both domestic and global value chains.
- Workers engaged in traditional crafts and skills are eligible.
- Emphasis is placed on individuals facing specific challenges, such as:
- Lack of access to modern tools and equipment.
- Absence of professional training for their work.
- Geographical distance from markets relevant to their craft.
- Limited availability of capital for investment in their trade.
- The scheme particularly targets marginalized and socially backward communities, including the Other Backward Classes (OBC) groups.
- Eligible individuals may include those who have acquired their skills through family traditions or apprenticeships. Top of Form
Benefits offered by the Vishwakarma Scheme
- Free Registration: Vishwakarma workers can register for free through Common Services Centers using the biometric-based PM Vishwakarma portal.
- Recognition: Workers will receive recognition through the PM Vishwakarma certificate and ID card.
- Skill Upgradation: The scheme offers both basic and advanced training to improve the skills of artisans.
- Toolkit Incentive: Artists will receive a toolkit incentive of ₹15,000
- Collateral-Free Credit: Workers can avail of collateral-free credit support up to ₹1 lakh (first tranche) and ₹2 lakh (second tranche) at a concessional interest rate of 5%.
- Digital Transactions Incentive: The scheme provides incentives for digital transactions and offers marketing support.
- Toolkit Booklet: To keep artisans informed about new technologies in their field, a toolkit booklet has been released in 12 Indian languages, accompanied by video elements.
- Additional benefits: Other benefits include a stipend of Rs 500 for skill training and Rs 1,500 to purchase modern tools.
Common challenges faced by professionals engaged in traditional crafts and skills
- Lack of Access to Modern Tools and Equipment: Many professionals in traditional crafts may not have access to modern tools and equipment, limiting the efficiency and quality of their work.
- Limited Professional Training: Traditional artisans often learn their skills through family traditions or apprenticeships, which may not provide formal professional training, potentially resulting in outdated techniques.
- Limited Capital for Investment: Traditional craftsmen may face difficulties in securing capital for purchasing materials, tools, or expanding their businesses, which can constrain their growth.
- Inadequate Recognition and Marketing: Traditional artisans may struggle with marketing and promoting their products effectively, leading to challenges in reaching a broader customer base.
- Competition from Mass Production: The rise of mass-produced goods can threaten traditional artisans who produce handcrafted items, impacting their livelihoods.
- Skills Preservation and Succession: Ensuring the preservation of traditional skills and passing them on to the next generation can be a challenge, as younger generations may not always be interested in pursuing these crafts.
- Financial Insecurity: Irregular income patterns common in traditional crafts can lead to financial instability, especially due to seasonal demand or market fluctuations.
Significance of the Vishwakarma Scheme
- Empowering Traditional Artisans: The Vishwakarma Scheme is significant as it aims to empower and uplift traditional artisans and craftsmen engaged in various trades. It recognizes their importance in India’s cultural and economic fabric.
- Social and Economic Inclusion: The scheme targets marginalized communities, especially the OBC groups, and provides them with opportunities for skill development and financial support, thereby promoting social and economic inclusion.
- Preserving Cultural Heritage: By supporting traditional crafts and skills, the scheme contributes to the preservation of India’s rich cultural heritage. It ensures that age-old craftsmanship is not lost to modernization.
- Recognition and Certification: The scheme provides recognition to artisans through the PM Vishwakarma certificate and ID card, boosting their status and recognition in society.
- Financial Security: By offering collateral-free credit support and financial incentives, the scheme provides financial security to artisans, helping them invest in their crafts and improve their livelihoods.
- Digital Integration: Encouraging digital transactions and offering incentives for digital business practices promotes financial literacy and inclusion among traditional artisans.
- Integration with Global Value Chains: By aiming to integrate Vishwakarmas with domestic and global value chains, the scheme opens up opportunities for artisans to access broader markets and participate in the global economy.
- The PM Vishwakarma scheme represents a significant step toward empowering traditional craftsmen by providing them with the tools, training, and financial support they need to thrive in an ever-changing world. As this scheme unfolds, it holds the potential to transform the lives of countless skilled workers and contribute to the nation’s growth and development.