The global slowdown has it seems cast a shadow on Indian handicraft industry as well. The industry which was flourishing at a rapid rate during the first half of 2008, is seeing a gigantic dip in export orders and works. Handicraft industry is the second largest industry in India on the basis of manpower employed. And nearly 500000 have been laid off in the last three months.
The demand for Indian handicrafts has gone down by nearly 40%. Most harshly hit are the metal ware and wooden craft producers who had a huge customer base in US and UK. They are now forced to close many of their factories to bear the loses.
At the start of this financial meltdown, it was not looking this bad for the handicraft industry as tourism was still high. The main reason for that was that it was still a festival season in India and tourists were ample. December is a global festival season and this drove the foreign market as well. Now it is all over. Christmas has passed and New year is gone, and with it the tourists. There are no more 'quick delivery orders' in the bag.
This very well could be a long fight against the markets. But Indian handicraft industry is one of the oldest and most experienced industries in the country; and it has seen many such phases. I believe that they will pull out of it reasonably comfortably.
Besides, for how long can the invaluable treasures be out of demand????