Vasant Kunj, Delhi, India
Vasant Kunj, Delhi, India
Rajasthan is well-known for its rich heritage and culture.
But for women embroidery artisans of Jodhasar in Bikaner district, their craft has not been able to gain the deserved recognition in all these years.
Their form of embroidery, known as Kashidakari which means needle work, is time consuming but the returns are meager.
In the 1980s, a few NGOs tried to bring their skills to limelight which made way for employment opportunities with demand from retailers, multi-brand retail outlets and private players.
However, these initiatives were not enough to generate sustainable revenue for the artisans.
Their story dates to the Indo-Pak war in 1971 when they migrated to this side of the border.
Ever since they have been struggling to make their ends meet.
The origin of the art is not known, but embroidered pieces were given to the new bride as a token of love and goodwill.
While the long-cherished tradition persists, the struggle to transform it into a livelihood opportunity is also an ongoing one posed by multiple challenges.
Patriarchy has been one of the biggest hurdles, right from procuring the raw materials to selling the finished pieces.
Women mostly receive orders in the peak agricultural seasons when they are overburdened with household chores and fieldwork.
Woman artisans are totally dependent on external agents for raw materials.
They have no capital to begin with. The average household income and the savings do not allow them to take risk to make and sell their own products.
The wages are decided based on design and size of the kashidakari work.
The order includes a variety of products ranging from kurtis, dupatta and shawls to bed covers, pillow covers, mobile covers and sofa covers.
NGOs, self-help groups and women’s collectives have not been of much help since the orders are irregular, coupled by issues such as delayed payments and rejection of pieces citing poor quality.
There have been instances of traders making away with finished products, without paying the women.
Most of the women artisans have problems with their eyesight, but continue with this intricate form of embroidery in the hope of better earnings.
On one side we claim to recognize the importance of handmade products and handicrafts, on the other we do not recognize the efforts and pay the artisans their due.
As these strong-willed women continue to do their part, the onus of helping them out with better opportunities lies with the government and concerned authorities, along with the society.
With emphasis on Make in India and Vocal for Local initiatives, the right time to act is Now.
Courtesy: Tripta Sharma, Sonam Gupta, Village Square
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