Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Union Minister of State for Textiles (IC), gave away the prestigious Ajay Shankar Memorial Awards for the best display of stands in various categories at the 39th edition of the Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Fair (Spring) on February 22. Sanjay Kumar, IAS, Special Secretary, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh, Vinod Johari, President of IHGF (Spring), Vice Presidents Shahnawaz Khan and Vishal Bohra, Rakesh Kumar, Chairman of India Expo Centre and Mart and Executive Director – EPCH and Lekhraj Maheshwari, Chairman- EPCH were also present during the ceremony. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The Ajay Shankar Memorial Awards were instituted in the memory of late Ajay Shankar, former Development Commissioner (handicrafts) who was one of the major motivators for establishing this fair. The awards were conferred in six product categories. While giving away the awards the minister congratulated all the awardees for receiving the awards and appreciated their excellent workmanship. He further said that handicrafts sector is the second largest sector after agriculture and Government has plans to give boost to this sector. He also informed the gathering that Ministry of Textiles has urged the Prime Minister of India to attach MGNREGA with the handicrafts sector so that artisans and craftpersons can be directly benefitted and their conditions of livelihood can be improved. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixHe said that while there’s strong competition from neighbouring countries including China, the Indian handicrafts sector has its own distinct identity and place in the world market. The minister was of the view that handicrafts sector is likely to receive very good support in the next budget.Over 3800 buyers including over 900 buying agents from 60 countries have been registered during the first two days of the show. Impressive numbers come from USA(469), Canada (141), Israel (42), Germany (215), Sweden (148), UK (230), Russia (25), Australia (146), Japan (196), China (53), Denmark (73), South Africa (72), Brazil (25) and Argentina (15).