In a bid to promote the state’s Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), the state government has decided to build a mall in Kolkata which will exhibit a wide variety of handicrafts, taant sarees and other indigenous products under one roof. The mall, which will be known as ‘Biswa Bangla’, will have handloom sarees, handicrafts and other products that will highlight the work of weavers and craftsmen in the state.
“The mall will be spread across a 1 lakh sq ft area, for which the location has been identified. It will be constructed in EM Bypass, and is likely to promote tourism in Bengal. All famous and not-so-famous crafts such as handicrafts, clothes and shawls will be available,” said an official of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
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The mall will likely promote traditional arts and craft forms on a global stage, sources said, adding it will also sell other souvenirs related to Bengal. Biswa Bangla is already a brand, and is an initiative to promote the state’s arts and crafts, many of which have been struggling, sources said. The project is the brainchild of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and the first store was opened in the domestic section of Dumdum airport in 2014 in Kolkata, and is reportedly a hit with travellers.
The proposed mall will have Indo-Portuguese shawls – each of which takes about six months to embroider – muslin, Darjeeling tea, masks, attar perfumes, Kalimpong cheese, mustard sauce and honey from the Sundarbans, products with heritage value from Shantiniketan, Cotton Sarees, jute bags and Jamdani saris. Khadi shirts, silk kurtis, Kantha and Jamdani matka saris, shawls, special edition CDs of Bengali folk music, Tagore, Nazrul and baul songs would also be available.
Well-known state-based designers will add their expertise and enhance the commercial value of products. Sources said the government is also preparing an expert policy in the MSME sector.
The mall, which is currently in the planning stage, is likely to have world-class facilities and infrastructure. Positive feedback regarding the chain of Biswa Bangla stores has prompted the government to go bigger with the idea of promoting Bengal beyond boundaries, according to sources. According to sources, a team is also looking into which countries have the most demand for Bengal’s crafts, as Biswa Bangla is ready to open outlets outside the country.