A Disappearing Craft: How Inflation Is Impacting Artisans in India and What It Means for You
You may have noticed when you went to fill up your tank this morning that gas prices are rising with almost no end to the price jumps in sight. While your wallet empties at the pump, basic necessities like food and electricity are also becoming more expensive. And it seems every day you hear news of another shortage of some kind going on which will only further increase your costs.
During these times, it can be easy to feel frustrated and even helpless about the whole situation—you’re buying less, spending more, and global inflation feels completely out of your control.
You may not have the power to control inflation rates. But when it comes to your money, one thing you can control is your ability to make a difference with your support.
In India, where Passion Lilie garments are made, artisan communities are struggling under the weight of inflation in an ongoing pandemic and their traditional craft practices are disappearing. With your support, we work hard to preserve ancient crafts such as ikat weaving so they can continue for years to come.
Read on to learn more about how global inflation is affecting India and why our small teams of artisans need your support now more than ever.
What Are the Causes of Inflation in India?
It’s true that inflation is hitting us hard here in the U.S. But we’re not the only ones feeling the pangs of rising costs.
On our most recent trip to India in June 2022, our team noticed significant price hikes everywhere—from gas to food and even clothing—after not having been back in two and a half years. We were able to witness firsthand the ways global inflation is impacting everyday people and harming India’s traditional craft industry in particular.
Many people are losing their jobs, homes, and are unable to feed their families because of increasing costs. Here are a few major causes behind high prices in India.
1. Fuel Inflation
Over the last few years, fuel in general has become shorter in supply due to a lack of funding as companies shift to new energy alternatives. This is especially true in major oil-producing countries such as the U.S. from which India imports much of its crude oil.
2. The Russia-Ukraine Conflict
More international affairs have also exacerbated the oil shortage, leading to increased prices globally. India imports 80% of its oil with Russia being its second largest supplier—the Russia-Ukraine war has not only disrupted India’s energy sector but also increased costs of production, shipping, and transportation.
3. The Global Pandemic
Finally, we also must recognize hat all of this is happening in the middle of an ongoing pandemic. Retail inflation in India is now at the highest it’s been in eight years, which is devastating low-income earners and the country’s most vulnerable communities.
Here’s a closer glimpse at how global inflation is impacting India’s population.
Impact of Inflation in India
1. Food Inflation
In addition to gasoline, global inflation has skyrocketed the cost of food in India with staples such as rice and vegetables increasing and cooking oil almost doubling in price. Many low-income families have been able to get by only through rationing their food. And lower-middle class families report only being able to afford meat such as poultry once a week, while families in rural areas are unable to at all.
2. Transportation Shortage
In major cities such as Bangalore and Mumbai, a shortage of taxi drivers and auto rickshaws has now made it more difficult to travel—during peak hours or when it rains, it’s nearly impossible. The pandemic had put many auto and taxi drivers out of work, so most have been unable to repay their auto loans. Coupled with inflation, many drivers have had their cars seized and have been forced to switch industries
3. More Debt and Less Savings
Due to global inflation, interest rates in India have also been increased several times in the government’s attempt to slow down spending. Higher interest rates means more people are unable to pay back their debts, let alone set money aside in savings.
There have been reports of shopkeepers having to shut down their stores, houses going without electricity, and even families forced to sell their homes to repay debt. While other individuals who have been debt-free prior to now are having to consider taking on loans to stay afloat, from craftspeople to farmers.
4. Disappearing Industries
Inflation is also the cause of the steady disappearance of certain industries, such as India’s arts and traditional crafts. We at Passion Lilie, for instance, have had difficulty finding weavers who can hand weave some of the very intricate and careful ikat patterns on our pieces. As older and more experienced weavers have now retired or sadly passed away since the start of the pandemic.
Because of rising costs of living, younger generations are choosing to take high-paying tech jobs in the cities—leaving no one in the villages to carry on the handloom weaving traditions. This is why Passion Lilie feels so strongly about supporting artisans in India so that their craft forms do not die out.
Why Our Prices Have Increased
We at Passion Lilie have been facing significant increases in pricing from labor to materials to shipping. Yet we have worked hard to be able to offer you the best price possible while remaining true to our mission of being a fair trade and sustainable brand.
Though India’s traditional crafts are becoming a rarer art form, we strive to keep sales going so that there is demand for our products and these treasured crafts do not disappear.
Your support will help keep us in business and allow India’s traditional craft forms to persevere as we ride the waves of global inflation.
Preserving Traditional Crafts
Global inflation is ravaging populations in India—traditional craft artisans, in particular, are becoming fewer and fewer because of increased costs.
By continuing to support our brand, you also support small artisans in India and help to preserve traditional craft forms through generations.
You can shop our handwoven ikat collection here and help keep this craft form alive.
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