Traditional artisanry, with its myriad assortment of products and diverse opportunities in providing livelihood, perhaps represent the cultural diversity of India at its best. From traditional livelihoods such as hand weaving of clothes, handmade crafts such as wood or stone carving, pottery to the use of traditional methods in fishing and metallurgy, India has a wide range of processes of production, which are typically artisanal. In the process of modernisation and industrialisation during colonial and post-colonial periods, the production processes among artisans have transformed with respect to linkages with procurement of raw material, increased exposure to markets, and other factors. Some sectors have survived with or without considerable decline, and some have stagnated or perished. Nevertheless, small scale industries with varying degrees of a household mode of production still account for a large share of the industrial output in India.

In this context, CSD focuses on studying various modes of production of artisanal manufacturing. The focus has been on the impact of modernisation and mechanisation of crafts in fishing, globalisation on hand weaving industry, khadi and village industries as a provider of employment in rural areas and so on.