Canada’s Visa Refusal to Indian Artisans

Advocacy, Codes of Practice, Policy

Canada’s Visa Refusal to Indian Artisans

Chatterjee, Ashoke

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A small team of artisans from Jawaja (Rajasthan) accompanied by Prof Ashoke Chatterjee (former Director, National Institute of Design and former President, Crafts Council of India) have been denied visas to attend a global symposium on craft development that opened this week in Vancouver, Canada. The reason stated by the Canadian authorities in New Delhi is the lack of "a legitimate business purpose". The group had been invited to share three decades of development experience through an experiment that is globally acknowledged for its significance, and has had an influence well beyond the craft sector. The Maiwa Symposium is organized in Vancouver each year by the Maiwa Foundation. Its objective is to bring together artisans and activists to understand developments in the sector that can impact future craft directions. The global recession, while slowing the growth of the market, has demonstrated the remarkable resilience of world demand for hand production. In India, the sector is the largest employment generator after agriculture. Yet most Indian artisans remain among the weakest sections of society. The context of unparalleled scale and centuries-old unbroken tradition --- combined with major social, economic and political implications and opportunities - make India's craft experience critical for understanding within the debate on sustainable livelihoods. With this objective, the Maiwa Foundation invited the Artisans Alliance of Jawaja (AAJ) to share their unique experience through presentations and training workshops at its 2009 Symposium, which opened on 19 October in Vancouver, BC. The hamlet of Jawaja, in one of the most degraded districts of Rajasthan, was selected in 1975 by the late Prof Ravi J Matthai (founder Director of IIMA) for a path-breaking experiment in self-reliance. After...
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