Naseem Bano was an amateur and a beginner when she had come to the trade fair in Delhi to display her craftsmanship in 1995. This time with over two decades of experience and a national award in her kitty, Naseem Bano has a wide variety of chiken work to show case at the Hunar Haat organised for the first time, at the International Trade Fair in Delhi to encourage the artisans from minority communities from across the country. She has brought kurtas and other apparels done in excellent chicken work with innovative designs and colour combinations.
“I have put all my savings into it and hopefully, I will be able to earn a decent amount of money on my investment,” says optimistic Naseem Bano who has also been teaching this art to poor girls and women in a locality near Lucknow where she lives. She wants them to learn this art when they are young, so that they too are able to employ themselves gainfully. Naseem feels that despite having won a National Award for her skills in this craft, and having had sufficient exposure at various levels, her earnings do not match the talent, hard work and toil that goes into creating high standard chiken work. She says that though her young son has a lot of interest in this art and also has a flare for creative designs, he did not opt for it and chose to study biotechnology instead of expanding this family business. Naseem says that weavers artisans ad craftsman and woman like her need all the help, encouragement and incentives from the government and the civil society to display and market their creative traditional wares at all possible platforms which may help them improve their sale. “Otherwise, how do you expect us to compete with large business houses who aggressively sell their products in big malls and even online”, she asks.
Platforms like Hunar Haat and other incentives are needed for craftsmen and women to give a boost to their earnings but also to keep traditional arts alive, says Islam Ahmed who makes exquisite lac bangles and other jewellery. Adept at making lac bangles in a matter of minutes, Islam Ahmed displays his talent and creates lac bangles in the colour chosen by his customers right in front of their eyes. He however, laments that it is becoming difficult to keep such arts alive because it is getting very difficult to earn enough to match today’s life styles. It is for this reason that both his sons, he says, refused to carry on their art work that has been going on for generations.
These two master craftsmen came across this author at the Hunar Haat which is currently going on at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi and has been organized under the USTTAD scheme (Upgrading the Skills & Training in Traditional Arts&Crafts for Development) of Ministry of Minority Affairs. About a hundred stalls have been set up at this Haat which will be on till 27thNovember. Several State and National Awardees representing as many as 26 states and Union Territories have come from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Bihar, North Eastern states and even Kerala are displaying their and craft work at the Hunar Haat pavilion.
Echoing the sentiments of most of the artisans at the Hunar Haat, Naseem Bano says that the arrangement are really good this time. They have got free stalls, daily allowance to meet their expenses and their travel to and fro Delhi too has been borne by the government.
Usttad: Promoting Tradional Arts And Craft
Although minority communities are known to hold a rich heritage of traditional skills, arts and craftsmanship, in today’s world of competitive market, globalization, and the deteriorating socio economic condition of master craftsmen and artisan ,as many of the craftsmen pointed out, young generation is not keen to pursue the traditional arts . It was in this backdrop that the USTTAD scheme was worked out.
This initiative is one of the many steps taken by the government to improve the lot of the minority communities in India. It is not limited to giving incentives to traditional artisans and craftsmen but also building their capacities in every which way to withstand the competition and preserve and promote their art. USTTAD was launched last year in May in Varanasi with a multi-pronged objectives. This includes building capacity of master craftsmen and artisans and training the young generation ,standardising of identified arts and crafts and their documentation.
For facilitating and promoting marketing of the traditional art and craft products, USTTAD also helps establish linkages of traditional skills with the global market. The scheme also provides for institutional support for up-gradation of Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts. USTTAD Fellowship for Research and Development is another step towards promoting the Hunar of our traditional craftsmen.
Documentation and marketing
The scheme also envisages setting up of Craft Museums for curating traditional arts and crafts. In order to support to minority craftsmen and artisans for marketing their products. the Ministry of Minority Affairs seeks the help of national level prestigious institutes like NIFT ( National Institute of Fashion Technology), NID (National Design Institute and IIP (Indian Institute of Packaging) for helping in designing, developing the range of products, packaging and organising exhibitions, tying up with e-commerce portals to increase the sale, building brands and working in are and craft clusters.
USTTAD scheme is expected to help not only in preserving and promoting our traditional art and craft but also give a dignified life style and higher standard of living to our crafts men and women endowed with unmatched talent, expertise and passion to take forward India’s rich heritage.
About:Smt. Sarira Brara is a New Delhi based independent Journalist and writes regularly in Newspapers on social sector issues.