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President greets Smt. Sonia Gandhi on her birthday



President greets Smt. Sonia Gandhi on her birthday 
The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has conveyed his greetings and good wishes to Smt. Sonia Gandhi on her birthday. 


In his message, the President has said, "I extend warm greetings and good wishes to you on your birthday.

During your long span of public life, you have rendered immense service to the country. You have made stellar contributions to all aspects of public life. I compliment you on your accomplishments and wish you the very best for the coming years. May the Almighty bless you with good health, happiness and many more years of dedicated service to the nation”. 
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Envoys of four nations present credentials to President of India 
Envoys of Greece, Burkina Faso, Japan and Portugal presented their credentials to the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony held in Rashtrapati Bhavan today (December 9, 2015).

The envoys who presented their credentials were: -

1. His Excellency Mr. Pano Kalogeropoulos, Ambassador of Greece

2. His Excellency Mr. Amadou Traore, Ambassador of Burkina Faso

3. His Excellency Mr. Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador of Japan

4. His Excellency Mr. Joao do Carmo Ataide da Camara, Ambassador of Portugal
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 The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Shilp Guru Awards -2012 to Shri Kailash Soni, (Rajasthan), at the presentation of the National Awards & Shilp Guru Awards to master craftsperson and weavers for 2012, 2013 and 2014, in New Delhi on December 09, 2015. The Minister of State for Textiles (Independent Charge), Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar and the Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, Dr. S.K. Panda are also seen.
Extensive range of indigenous handicrafts reflect our nation’s diversity and infinite creativity, says president 
The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presented today (December 9, 2015) the National Awards and Shilp Guru Awards to master craftspersons for the years 2012, 2013 & 2014.

The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Shilp Guru Awards -2012 to Shri O.P Malhotra, (Himachal Pradesh), 
Speaking on the occasion, the President congratulated the award winners and master craftspersons. He appreciated their unique contribution to the preservation and promotion of Indian handicraft traditions and for enriching the cultural heritage of the country. 

The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Shilp Guru Awards -2012 to Shri Har Kishan, (New Delhi), 
The President said that our indigenous handicrafts are a cherished aspect of our way of life. Their extensive range reflects our nation’s diversity and infinite creativity. Each geographic region and sub-region has its individual style and tradition that stems from the ancient life-rhythms of its society. Our shilpkaars have, down the centuries, developed their own, often unique, methods and techniques of bringing life into stone and metal, sandalwood and clay. They had, many centuries ago, perfected scientific and engineering processes far ahead of their times. The creations of that time reveal their sophisticated knowledge and highly developed aesthetic sense.

The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Shilp Guru Awards -2013 to Shri Rafiquddin, (Uttar Pradesh),
The President said that production of handicraft items provides livelihood opportunities to millions of people living in rural areas. Handicrafts entail low capital investment and facilitate environmental conservation. They also empower disadvantaged segments like the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and minorities thus making development inclusive and sustainable. Production of handicraft items holds particular significance in the economic empowerment of women living in the rural areas.

The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Shilp Guru Awards -2013 to Smt. Anita Choudapurkar, (Karnataka), 
The President stated that concerted steps at various levels are necessary to provide a fillip to the handicrafts sector. These may include facilitation of easier access to credit from banks and other financial institutions and the promotion of these products in domestic and foreign markets. Universities, Corporate houses and Government departments can contribute by sponsoring and also undertaking research which results in new and innovative technologies that will enable upgradation of the traditional tools and designs of local artisans.

The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Shilp Guru Awards -2014 to Shri Ram Swaroop Sharma, (Rajasthan),
Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Textiles and Shri S. K. Panda, Secretary, Textiles. 
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Speech by the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at the presentation of ShilpGuru Awards and National Awards to master craftspersons for 2012, 2013 & 2014 
1.It is really happy occasion for me to be present amidst you today for conferring the prestigious National Awards &Shilp Guru Awards to outstanding master craftspersons for the years 2012, 2013 & 2014.

2.I would like to first of all congratulate the award winners and master craftspersons. I also place on record my appreciation for their unique contribution to the preservation and promotion of Indian handicraft traditions and for enriching the cultural heritage of our country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

3.Our indigenous handicrafts are a cherished aspect of our way of life. Their extensive range reflects our nation’s diversity and infinite creativity. Each geographic region and sub-region has its individual style and tradition that stems from the ancient life-rhythms of its society. Our shilpkaars have, down the centuries, developed their own, often unique, methods and techniques of bringing life into stone and metal, sandalwood and clay. They had, many centuries ago, perfected scientific and engineering processes far ahead of their times. The creations of that time reveal their sophisticated knowledge and highly developed aesthetic sense.

4.Production of handicraft items provides livelihood opportunities to millions of people living in rural areas. Handicrafts entail low capital investment and facilitate environmental conservation. They also empower disadvantaged segments like the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and minorities thus making development inclusive and sustainable. Production of handicraft items holds particular significance in the economic empowerment of women living in the rural areas, as production is carried out in the house alongside other household chores. Women form a large part of the work force and constitute more than half of the artisan sector. It is estimated that over 70 lakh people are earning their livelihood from production of handicrafts and related activities.

5.Exports of handicrafts, excluding handmade carpets, constituted 11% of total exports and grew from Rs.23,504 crore in 2013-14 to Rs.27,747 crore in 2014-15. Handmade carpets constituted 3% of the total exports from India and their value increased from Rs.7,110 crore in 2013-14 to Rs.8,442 crore in 2014-15 representing a 19% growth, year-on-year. Artmetal wares, wood wares, imitation jewellery, embroidered & crocheted goods and hand printed textiles & scarves constitute the bulk of our handicraft exports. It is indeed a matter of satisfaction that handicraft exports, including handmade carpets, registered an impressive increase during 2014-15, rising from Rs.30,614 crore to Rs.36,189 crore. The domestic market is also shaping up well given the growth in the urban middle class. However, inspite of these healthy growth figures, the handicraft industry in India is highly fragmented and the sector has been facing significant challenges mainly due to lack of design, innovation, technology upgradation, scarcity of raw materials, inadequate finance and increased competition from mill and factory made products.

6.I am, therefore, pleased to learn that various schemes for development of the handicrafts sector have been reviewed and a comprehensive National Handicraft Development programme launched. The programme emphasizes an integrated approach for development of handicraft clusters. The major thrust is on result oriented interventions focusing on empowering artisans through skill and technology upgradation, design development and supply of raw materials through easily accessible common facility centres at cluster level. Developing and strengthening marketing linkages through various options such as direct sale, participation in sale expos and e-commerce is another major component of the new approach. Information technology is also being utilized to provide assistance to artisans directly through Aadhar linked bank accounts.

7.To provide a fillip to this sector, it is necessary that we take concerted steps at various levels. These may include, for example, facilitation of easier access to credit from banks and other financial institutions and the promotion of these products in domestic and foreign markets. Universities, Corporate houses and Government departments can contribute by sponsoring and also undertaking research which results in new and innovative technologies that will enable upgradation of the traditional tools and designs of local artisans. The plan to set up a Hastkala Academy is a welcome step in this direction.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

8.Our “guru shishyaparampara” is an exceptional aspect of our traditional arts and crafts. Master-craftsmen, down the ages, have taken pride in passing on their skills to their succeeding generations. I can do no better than quote Gandhiji who had said, “if we want to keep all seven lakhs of our villages alive and not only a fraction of them, we have to revive our village handicrafts. And you may be sure that if we impart scholastic training through those crafts, we can bring about a revolution” (unquote).

9.Conferring the National Awards and Shilpguru Awards today is a recognition of the outstanding contributions of our artisans who have through their creativity carved out a niche for India and its products worldwide. The eighty craftspersons who are the proud recipients of these Awards richly deserve this honour. I once again take this opportunity to congratulate the awardees, and the entire handicrafts community, for their creative efforts and wish them the very best in their future endeavours.

JAI HIND 
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