Golden hands, bleeding hearts

It’s matter of survival of artisan, not arts and crafts



By virtue of my organizational job profile, an old aged lady hailing from downtown Srinagar approached me with an application for financial assistance to undergo heart valve surgery. Her breathlessness was speaking for her ailment. On verification we learnt her husband was an artisan rendered handicapped after a severe heart stroke some years back. Earlier he was earning Rs.4,000 to Rs. 5,000 per month feeding his family of four members. Today, he hardly earns Rs.3,000 per month. Living in a dilapidated two room set, he hardly makes his two ends meet. Now the illness of his spouse further squeezed his meager domestic budget and was left with no option but to ‘beg’ for financial support. It took him more than a year to accumulate only half of the money required for treatment of his better-half. Her surgery was only possible when my organization paid rest of the money to the hospital.
A paper machie artisan suffered brain stroke and his family virtually came on the roadside for want of financial support not only to seek financial assistance for treatment of their only bread-earner but also to have two time meals.
It was shocking to note that dozens of similar cases were reported from downtown Srinagar and other artisan dominated areas. In all such cases, I observed that education of their children became immediate causality.
Over a period of time, standard of living of our artisan community has not grown to a size which could have supported them in the event of need. It’s pertinent to mention here that lack of sufficient financial resources has always remained a hurdle in their growth and prosperity. Formal financial system is yet to understand their plight, resulting in their poverty. In the name of financial support, the influential hijack the craft of the artisans for peanuts.
In olden days, exporters and middlemen used to fleece the artisans by giving them small loans taking their crafts at a very marginal price. Today when we talk of modernizing the art and the artisan, the situation has not changed much. Artisans continue to be in dilemma for lack of proper financial resources.
Precisely, the point here is that our artisan community is now an endangered community. Today, it’s not the matter of survival of the arts and crafts of our state, but the growing miseries of our craftsmen. Their skill has captured hearts of millions, but their own hearts are bleeding today. Their craftsmanship has failed them to even feed their families. 
One more serious dimension of the poor condition of our artisan and craftsmen community is that it serves as a source of child labour. While in distress, they push their children into the trade. Those associated with the protection and promotion of artisan community at the grass roots level should conduct a survey in artisan dominated clusters so that appropriate welfare measures are devised. At the moment, the education of their children should be supported by the government. If their today is miserable, proper education at this stage can power their prosperous future.

Lastupdate on : Mon, 19 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 19 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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