Handicraft industry facing closure in Uttarakhand village

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Mana Village (Uttarakhand), Sep.20 (ANI): The handicraft industry of Mana Village in Uttarakhand's Chamboli district is struggling to survive. The local artisans lament the neglect by Government authorities.

Artisans complain that the government authorities have not paid the much- needed attention, which could ensure their uplift and motivate them to continue with a smile on face. Absence of proper marketing for their creations has further dampened their spirit.

These handloom or handicraft artisans, who still work in traditional methods, say they have treasured their centuries old culture and art somehow, but now it is getting beyond their control to carry on.

"We do not have any kind of help. We have no modern machines and equipments. We do cutting, weaving and all by hands. We make beautiful carpets, sweaters, etc but the government has not provided us with any help. The amount of hard work that we put in, the return is very less. If the government gives us new machines and funds to buy wools then we will be able to make more beautiful things," said Kamala Kathi, an artisan.

Prior to 1902, the schedule tribes here used to work with Tibet. They used to buy wool from that business and would prepare various types of dresses. These dresses were finally sold by visiting far off villages to earn livelihood.

These handicraft and handloom artisans use traditional methods to create works of art, as they don't have means to use new technology. Members of Bhotia tribe today depend upon conventional methods for livelihood.

The ladies are expert artisans in creating a variety of these handicraft works including woollen pullovers, hand-driven fans, Asan (small mat), Dan (carpet), 'Chutka' (a type of woollen blanket or quilt). All these things are handmade.

The artisans say even as the Government has introduced various schemes for handicraft promotion, they are compelled to carry on with traditional methods.

Due to lack of proper marketing outlet, these artisans have to sell off their creations on cheap rates in neighbouring areas even when there is high demand for hand-made products in the market.

These artisans also don't have finishing machine, required after weaving, which doesn't bring the actual shine, which is expected in the big market. Hence, their work fails to garner big price in market and has difficulty in sales.

Though these local handicraft items prepared by using traditional methods are durable and good in quality, but the other products that have artificial glow hold a high demand.

Others feel that a small help from the government would save the age-old tradition from extinction.

"This tradition of ours has been there for ages and if the government helps us then we will be able to take this tradition forward. We have to do everything by hands, which is very time consuming and takes a lot of hard work and if the government provide us with little help then we can take this tradition forward else it would die with us only," said Bhagi Devi, another artisan.

Meanwhile, when told about the artisans' pitiable condition, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank said that the government has various schemes in the pipeline for the upliftment of the handloom and handicraft industry.

"The State Government, in collaboration with the handloom and handicraft industry are planning to make a separate scheme for that so that not only the tradition live but people associated with this art also become more efficient and we can popularise their work across the world."

The weavers today hope the Government will remember their plight and do something to save them from the prevailing crisis. By Asheesh Goyal (ANI)

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