Crafts, Innovation and Exclusion: Challenges for Inclusion in a Terracotta Cluster, Rajasthan
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The massive presence of craft clusters in rural India has not only been a source of local resource use and non-farm income generation but also of opportunities for innovation promising product diversification, reaching out to newer markets and networking between relevant business-state-research stakeholders. However, craft clusters, despite eulogising the craftsmanship and/or a culture of it, have suffered severe neglect in terms of inadequate policy attention that largely deprived the enterprises from participating as active entities within the regional or national systems of innovation. In addition to well-known supply-side constraints at the cluster level, the absence of or weak collective action by cluster constituents has been recognised as a major limitation of rural clusters to move up. The idea of inclusive innovation is a manner of recognising the exclusion of plaguing rural enterprises. Drawing upon primary survey-based findings in a terracotta cluster in rural Rajasthan, this paper interrogates issues in limits to innovation within an informal and poor economy context. It is observed that the specific context of production, labour process and business as a whole underscores a distinct approach in institutional innovation that would facilitate sustainable access to basic raw materials, skills and market channels. This is essential for ensuring inclusive innovation beyond the limited artefact-centric product or process innovation.
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