India International Trade Fair 2021: Showcasing specialties of Rural India, SARAS Aajeevika Mela is a must-visit

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November 23, 2021 10:06 PM

The mela aims to promote artisans of rural India, and it is witnessing the participation of more than 300 craftsmen and self help groups from across the country.

Handicrafts, cloths and edibles from different states line up the halls.

International Trade Fair 2021: The India International Trade Fair 2021 is underway at Pragati Maidan in Delhi, after the coronavirus pandemic caused the 2020 Trade Fair to be cancelled. Like always, the Trade Fair is promoting local artforms and handicrafts. If you plan on going to the Trade Fair, you are obviously going to hear all about the Hunar Haat. But there is another hall you should not give a miss if you wish to support small artisans and hidden crafts across the country. The SARAS Aajeevika Mela is being held at the Trade Fair, and it has been organised by the Union Ministry of Rural Development and National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR). The mela aims to promote artisans of rural India, and it is witnessing the participation of more than 300 craftsmen and self help groups from across the country.

Financial Express Online visited the SARAS Aajeevika Mela set up in Hall 7 A, B and C, and it is a blast of everything India. Handicrafts, cloths and edibles from different states line up the halls. While craftsmen from Assam have displayed bamboo art and water hyacinth products, Bihar’s Madhubani paintings and Sikki craft can also be seen. Haryana’s Terracotta items, jewelry from Karnataka and footwear from Maharashtra, the halls have it all.

From Madhya Pradesh, the tribal community has come to display the Gond art on various products like trays, dishes, paintings and even diaries. The members of the self help group create these products throughout the year in their village and only display it during fairs like this one, since they rarely sell any products back home. The pandemic made it difficult for them to sustain, but now things are looking up, even though they often have to sell their products at prices that barely help them break even.

On the other hand, Odisha’s now revived art form of Jau Kandhei can also be spotted. The art form includes creating small toys and showpieces of lac. Just like Gond art, Jau Kandhei is done entirely by hand, and to make it, the artists have to mould hot lac with their hands to give it the shape and the form they desire. While the artform is beautiful and admirable, what is even more so is the fact that the people who stand at the display are eager to explain the artform, even though their Hindi is understandably weak. They use images, videos and whatever little Hindi they know to promote Jau Kandhei, for which Odisha has applied for the GI tag.

To promote the innovative ideas of SHGs, the NIRDPR worked together with the Ministry of External Affairs to organise a workshop to which Trade and Commerce representatives from different Embassies were invited. During the workshop, the representatives of Czech Republic announced that they would promote Indian handicraft and handloom in their country, while also praising women of the various SHGs for the incredible job they have been doing in this area.

At the inauguration of the SARAS Aajeevika Mela, Union Minister of Rural Development Giriraj Singh said, “After Independence, the women of India gradually began to lose the opportunities to work. The Atmanirbhar Bharat vision of the current PM Narendra Modi-led government has brought economic freedom. Right now, there are 8 crore women who are involved in this, and by 2024, this number will increase to 10 crore. I have pledged, and have also assured PM Modi, that these women will get a minimum income of Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000. This is the Mission 1 lakh. This means that collectively, our 10 crore women will have Rs 10 lakh crore in their hands a year, which will be a new revolution and a new history in the economy of India.”

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