Although this is not a direct paring with your proverb, it is indirectly opposed to it and in regular use.
We English tend towards self denial and as such do not easily pose prose of such positive reinforcement; Being more familiar it would seem, with self denial - "So very British!" proclaim the French. We do however say the following quite readily:- Necessity is the mother of invention.
Which I believe denotes the same.
And in response to your question ...
The skilled workman is oppressed; such that he can not bare arms, not even a blade of grass, So historically it would seem; He would take to the seas; A reflection of the fact that Britain is a small island nation.
As an edition to my initial response; I can not help but wonder if your Indian phrase is reference to the use of bamboo grass as a pen. If this is so then the phrase:- The pen is mightier than the sword, is a direct reflection of your stated proverb.
I also wonder could this be referring to a bamboo arrow?