Indian Government schemes haven’t directly benefited craftspeople: Jaya Jaitly

Jaya Jaitly President Dastkari Haat Samiti.
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By Nivedita

NEW DELHI–Different schemes initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for the betterment of skilled workers is worth applauding, says well-known crusader of crafts and craftspersons Jaya Jaitly. She, however, feels many schemes have not been formulated well.

Jaya Jaitly President Dastkari Haat Samiti.
Jaya Jaitly President Dastkari Haat Samiti.

The government has committed to promoting traditional artisanship among minorities and strengthening it through better market linkages, proper branding and better access to credit. Also, Textiles Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar has said that the government is seized of the urgent need to create jobs and upgrading the skills of workers employed in the textiles industry.

Jaitly, a former Samata party leader and the daughter of K.K. Chettur, the first Indian ambassador to Japan, however feels that the schemes will work only if they are executed in a proper way.

“The government has a lot of well-meaning schemes, but they are largely formulated by bureaucrats alone. They sometimes take our inputs, but it is eventually how they want it to be,” Jaitly, whose most enduring contribution to the national capital is Dilli Haat, where craftspeople from different parts of the country sell their wares, told IANS in an interview.

“A lot of people who have been funded have misused the funds; so there is a sense of mistrust about NGOs. I feel that mostly schemes of the government have not directly benefited the craftspeople because there are too many people coming in and don’t have grassroots exposure,” she added.

Jaitly, who has been working at the grassroots level for the popularity of Indian crafts from nooks and corners of the country for over four decades, also feels there has to be in-depth knowledge of Indian crafts to promote the ‘Made in India’ brand to focus on the domestic market.

“Make In India so far has gone down in the people’s mind as being meant only for industry. I have been saying this from day one that crafts have to be highlighted. It has to be ‘Made in India’ and more than exports, people can sell in India. Why should we bother about exports,” Jaitly asked on the sidelines of the ongoing 30yj edition of Dastkari Haat Craft Bazaar at Dilli Haat, a one-stop destination for the country’s crafts.

The annual exhibition, which will end on January 15, features works of over 150 craftspeople from villages, towns and cities across India. A highlight of this year is the work of craftsmen from Myanmar.

There’s also a live demonstration of the weaving looms from more than 12 states, including Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Dastkari Haat Samiti Crafts Bazaar
Dastkari Haat Samiti Crafts Bazaar

Jaitly was happy to see more Indians than foreigners at the exhibit. She also believes crafts need to be evolved with time to remain in demand.

“Some crafts have died and some has been created. I think this is the cycle of life. I don’t feel disheartened that crafts have died as many things have been morphed, changed… some may become some other raw material and are taken to product adaptations. But crafts will never stay alive unless they move with time.

“The beauty is that the skill exists, and so the skill keeps getting re-applied,” she said.


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