Sreekrishna Bharat, a 8-year-old in Nanganallur in Chennai, was intrigued by the fascinating colour of the Rajasthani shoes that his father got him at Jodhpur. He took his father’s mobile and scanned the QR code that was displayed at the exhibition to get details of the manufacturer. Keeping up with tech is one of the efforts taken by the Jodhpur City Knowledge and Innovation Foundation (JCKIF) to help thousands of artisans in Jodhpur use technology to improve their sales and also reach out to a global audience.

The foundation, in the last two years, has been playing an active role in the upliftment of local artisans and promoting their craft by various trust building exercises and exhibitions, said JCKIF’s CEO, GS Toteja.

“We are infusing technology in traditional handicrafts by developing digitalisation systems and techniques for traditional designs, creating a crafts lab and museum. We are using technologies, such as augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) and providing livelihood incubation to crafts persons. We are also enabling consumers to view a product through 3D,” he told bloncampus.

The JCKIF, a section 8 company, is an initiative of the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India on the recommendation of the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) to create an Atmanirbhar Bharat through S&T.

It is one of the six Science and Technology (S&T) clusters set up across the country with an objective of creation of a shared ecosystem; becoming a regional solution provider and becoming nationally and globally competitive.

Jodhpur is famous for horn and bone work — a unique art of creating figures and characters by carving into animal bones that are acquired by legal means once the animal is dead; block print; dhurie and leather mojhari. Leading craft artisans, including Jakhir Hussain and Mohammad Ishaq, have urged the institute to help them with design, technological and marketing interventions to sustain the business, said Toteja.


The JCKIF is supporting a project on design, development and maintenance of e-commerce platform for Jodhpur Craft Clusters. This is under development. A bone (of camel) and horn craft exhibition was organised by JCKIF and IIT Jodhpur last year to support artisans by creating awareness among masses for buying craft products of local artisans, he said.

“We are developing a digital archive of handicraft and handlooms from indigenous craft communities of Jodhpur and nearby areas that preserves tangible and intangible heritage of the craft traditions. We are also developing a plan to launch digitally-enabled, artisan-centric business models which will facilitate an ethical value chain ensuring sustainable livelihood for independent craftsmen. We plan to create and implement a framework to aid artisans in developing temporally relevant designs for new product development,” he said.

To facilitate the artisans of the unorganised sector, a unique D2C platform is set up where potential customers can explore the handicrafts by diving into the immersive world of AR/VR to experience the products the way they look in the physical world. This platform would also help the artisans to reach the unreached by providing greater visibility to their craft. JCKIF has already taken the initiative by creating immersive space and scanned more than 300 artefacts of artisans associated with it.

While there are different kinds of arts, artisans don’t get benefits. One of the major objectives of JCKIF was to connect with artisans and help them flourish economically; to continue the work and preserve a repository of all the things. For this, “we are working with the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Footwear design and development department, artisans, and various State and Central government agencies,” he said.

(This writer was recently in Jodhpur at the institute’s invitation)