Despite meagre resources,the Adivasi Hastakala Pradarshan,now in its 20th year at the Tribal Research and Training Institute,continues to support tribal artisans from across the state
With a shy smile,22-year-old Vinayak Vichare,says in broken Hindi,”Business achcha tha,” while describing the sales at the recently concluded Adivasi Hastakala Pradarshan at the Tribal Research and Training Institute (TRTI),located next to the Bund Garden Police Station. The five-day event,held from January 9 – 13,saw artisans,predominantly from tribal communities from the far-flung corners of the state,displaying their wares that ranged from Ayurvedic medicines and toys to wood carvings and metal sculptures.
Organised by the state government,the event has,for the last 20 years,been drawing in talent to ensure that the artisans get their dues for the hard work they put in. D R Parihar,joint director,TRTI,says,”We feel happy when they come here despite so many hardships,not just to sell their wares but to showcase a slice of their culture and heritage,which is fast disappearing and falling prey to exploitation,under the garb of modernisation.”
The artworks at the festival ranged from as less as Rs 50 for bronze pendants to Rs 4000 for metal carvings of Lord Krishna or even a well-sculpted tortoise. Vichare,who is from Gadchiroli,participated in the exhibition for the first time. He says,”So many people have come here. I have even given my visiting cards to some people who would like to distribute our products here. We made Rs 35,000 in one week,and the total value of our goods is about Rs one lakh. It has been a good week for us.”
However the officials at the TRTI argue that the artisans rarely get their money’s worth. “At the event,we had 23 stalls where 48 artisans had come. If we are provided with enough resources,we have over 1000 different artisans from across Maharashtra who can come and display and sell their wares in cities like Pune,” says Ramesh Raghatwal,cultural officer,TRTI. According to him,what these people have earned here is far less than what they are capable of earning. “But then they are so poor. For them,the Rs 30,000 – 35,000 that they have made here is very big. But we know that their art is worth much more,” he says.
Nanaji Sable from Nashik has been coming to the fair since its inception in 1992. His business of selling Ayurvedic medicines has had decent exposure in the city,he says. “We have medicines for all problems. Everything is natural,” he says displaying his wares proudly. Sable adds that they are ready to come to Pune even twice a year if these events are held for longer durations.
His hopes however have to stand up to a tall mountain. One that even the officials of the TRTI have been trying to scale for the last 20 years. “We were sanctioned only Rs 1.6 lakhs for this event. This included bringing the artisans,paying for their stay,food,travel expenses,everything. What do you get in this amount? Even we feel sorry for them. But they are so content – they get so little and yet they feel as if they have received more than what they had bargained for,” says Raghatwal. “Rs 4000 crores were sanctioned by the state government for tribal welfare,and yet we have to fight to get more exposure for these tribal artists. It is like trying to climb a mountain that keeps getting higher and higher,” he adds with a resigned look.