Stand up for craftspeople

Stand up for craftspeople: how to support India’s artisan community during the COVID-19 crisis

Tyabji, Laila

Locked out of their livelihoods, they are in need of unusual solutions and the united efforts of the government, craft organisations and designers [caption id="attachment_198213" align="aligncenter" width="206"] Kutch Rabari with her embroidery   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement[/caption]   “The Corona epidemic has broken our back,” says a normally cheerful Aarti Patra, part of a group of sabai-grass basket-makers in an Odisha village. Rajkumari Joshi, a craftswoman from SADHANA, a women’s cooperative we work with in Rajasthan, agrees. “All the women here are feeling completely helpless and in need. We do not have work,” she says. Other artisans tell Dastkar they wonder what will finish them first - the virus or hunger. It is a curious time. Not just fear of a possibly mortal disease, but a lockdown of all social, and economic activity. For craftspeople, dependent on daily production and sales, life has come to a halt — there are no melas, no sales, no raw material, no money to feed their families. We have worked with them for decades, now we share their pain. “All our orders have been cancelled,” Vimal Kumar, a young Rajasthani potter, explains. “Even if we try our best, we will not be able to clear this stock for two years at least. This will cause not only debt, but a decrease in production. Craftspeople will be out of jobs for a long time,” he adds. Will crafts and their makers sur...
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