There is a palpable sense of skepticism in many with regards to the promise of inclusivity in Web3. Many believe that all talk of decentralization is a mere hype and is not implementable.
When one looks at the Metaverse players across various layers and that the metaverse market is projected to be worth $12Tn by 2030, the values of pay-parity, equity and inclusivity need to be lived in and by the Metaverse players.
Are there companies working on inclusivity and equity in places like Africa and economically backward countries?
Are there real possibilities to generate revenue and employment for the deprived or underprivileged classes of our society, with Web3 technologies?
The internet had made similar promises in the beginning and the utopian dream died within years of its inception. If we look at the internet today, there are pockets of improvement in revenue generation in rural and tribal populations but largely, it has skewed more, making the privileged a little more privileged.
Hence, considering the promise of Web3 in decentralization and self-sufficiency in revenues, this article attempts to provide scenarios across various layers of Metaverse as depicted below, to make this utopian ideal a reality.
The Artisan Community and Indian Craft
As an ancient civilization that has birthed many cultures and has seen numerous migrations and invasions, India has a rich heritage in the field of arts.
Craft as a term was historically limited to “goods worked by hand” but now includes a broader canvas – all things art, like Music, Dance, Painting, Sculptures, Textiles etc. Even if we limit Indian craft to “Handicrafts” across states, the variety in art form and media is unparalleled.
The Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) is a nodal agency for promoting exports of handicrafts from India to various destinations of the world and projecting India’s image abroad as a reliable supplier of high-quality handicrafts goods & services.
The Handicrafts exports during the year 2021-22 was Rs.33253.00 Crores (US$4459.76 Million) registering a growth of 29.49% in rupee terms & 28.90% in dollar terms over previous year1. While the growth is promising especially from a tourism perspective, this may have a miniscule impact on the overall rating of India as the Vishwaguru.
Revenue Generation for Artisans, while preserving the Art Heritage
The fast-paced Digital Age is only going to get faster with Industry 4.0. With technologies like VR/AR, 3D-Scanning and 3D-Modeling, 3D-Printing as well as Web 3.0 constructs (and buzzwords) like the NFT, Metaverse and Blockchain, the craft Industry has all the components aligned for that leapfrog moment.
A lot of artisan communities and tribal art communities in India are now extinct and some on the verge of extinction – this is a challenge that uniquely presents itself to us as an opportunity if we leverage the technologies mentioned above.
Industry 4.0 terms Technology as a driver of change, and not merely an enabler. We should look to harness this driver for Indian Craft and the numerous communities associated with it.
There is a need to look at Indian Craft holistically, including all forms of fine art and performing arts, compounded by technology and tourism. We Illustrate these possibilities by taking the famous Channapatna Toys from Karnataka, as an example. They are protected as a Geographical Indication (GI) under the World Trade Organisation administered by the Government of Karnataka.
Channapatna Toys could be put up on an artisan marketplace in the Metaverse. The artisan would be able to directly engage in selling goods in 3D and voice-interact with consumers worldwide. With technologies like 3D-scanning and 3D-printing, consumers worldwide would be able to see, touch and feel these products via Haptic technologies and also view the story of the artisan behind it.
Such multi-sensory experiences are disruptive and could help consumers in accelerating their buying decisions, something the Internet has not been able to achieve.
Consumers will not only get to pick up local artisans’ produce but also engage with them and know more about our culture, traditions and heritage from their standpoint. The same product, once digitized, could be converted to limited edition NFTs during special seasons. The underlying financial technology could be powered by Digital Ledger Technology (DLT) or Blockchain, keeping the transaction decentralized, bereft of middle-men.
Imagine the access for the artisans to the entire Indian Diaspora across the world and imagine the ease of access and purchase for the consumers, at large. This will also help the Artisans transfer knowledge to the next generation, a large number of who are looking for better economic opportunities in cities.
As mentioned earlier, this is the main reason why India has lost a lot of tribal and native art. With metaverse and ancillary technologies, the hope is that we will be able to reverse this trend and preserve art heritage for posterity while making it economically viable for the artisans at scale, something that is unknown and unprecedented in today’s times.
Early traction in such technology-driven soft power can certainly propel India onto the world stage and make traditional Indian artisans global celebrities, giving them the much needed recognition and respect.
Indian Heritage and Culture is multi-layered, with each layer having the capability to catapult India’s soft-power quotient. One could experience it through ancient monuments, scriptures, textiles, crafts, music, dance, food, sports, folktales and many more.
There is a need to look at each of these layers from a Technology and Tourism standpoint, the intent being to preserve and propagate Heritage and Cultures of the world, including the most backward communities.
If deployed across other art-forms like paintings, pottery, sculptures, textiles, and even artists like musicians and dancers, Artisans worldwide have tremendous potential to earn from a global market without boundaries.
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