Festival of creativity – Kolkata Handicraft Expo 2013-2014

Converting skilful handicraft artisans of the state into entrepreneurs is what the state government is trying to achieve through cohesion business and art, says Dr Amit Mitra, Minister-in-Charge, finance and excise department, Government of West Bengal, while inaugurating the West Bengal State Handicrafts Expo 2013-2014
3000 artisans from different parts of the state like Hooghly, Nadia, Bankura, Darjeeling, Murshidabad are participating in this handicraft fair. A separate pavilion has been allocated to Jangalmahal.
Mr Swapan Debnath, Minister-of-state, Micro and small-scale industries and textiles department informs that the artisans participating in this fair will be paid Rs 75 per day to cover their expenses. However, as claimed by the artisans, they don’t receive this money on day to day basis or soon after the fair gets over. The artisans complain off delay in payment.
Mr Rajiv Sinha, principal secretary, micro and small scale enterprises, laments the absence of a ‘Directorate of Handicraft’¬ a separate entity in the department, however,  the state government is focusing on bringing a policy which will regulate and organize the handicraft industry.
Handicraft is one of the few things that the state of West Bengal is famous all over the world and the artisans from this state has been participating in various international and national fairs where their handicrafts have been lauded, says Dr Mitra.
Dr Mitra further highlights that the state government plans to increase the bank credit for artisans who had already set up their business, training will be imparted about how to market products, apply for loan, file tax.
The artisans have a different say though. They have to run from pillar to post to get the bank loan sanctioned. Financial support, as alleged by the artisans from remote parts of the state, has not been provided to support their business and hence they are mostly out of work during most part of the year. Handicrafts from this state decorate the shops of cities in Europe, US, China and elsewhere. Art is valued , unfortunately artisans are still not. Beautiful Jewelry like bangles, ear rings made of wheat, bamboo, seeds have been put on display. Each of the creation showcases the unique talent of the hands of the creator. An entire Indian village has been created out of clay. Idols of Gods and Goddess made of Thermocol beautify the stalls of the artists who came all the from remote parts of the state to put their creations on display.
With the soaring prices of the raw materials like bamboo, colours and equipments, the artisans find it difficult to make their business survive and, as they claim, participation in a few fairs won’t help their business thrive.
“We want a better life for themselves and for our children which can be achieved only if the state government keeps up to their promises and arrange for their children’s education, provide financial support to them and their business” says Minoti Biswas, an artisan from Nadia

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