(Gram Haat, Annapurna Hall, Paldi, Ahmedabad. May 19, 2005)

Haat: A Way to People’s Heart

Our President, Dr. Abdul Kalam has conceptualised an image for the development of India. He has given a golden dream,

and in this plan, he has classified India into different parts. One of the parts in this plan addresses the desert areas. Such areas

do not have enough agricultural activity throughout the year due to the scarcity of rains, and hence he has suggested the

business of handicrafts for the poor people of such regions. The art of handicraft is inherent in the people of the arid regions of

Gujarat and Rajasthan. I believe it is God’s own way of making up for the lack of natural resources.

We need to make specific plans to develop these arts as a part of the journey of development. Such a plan should include

the objectives of making the art scientific, to support it with modern productivity methods, to get a good market for the art

items, and to help increase the price of the art products. Only by fulfilling these objectives can we lead this art to big

businesses. Usually, till now, these artists go to public places like funfairs

with their bundles of the artsy items to do their business. They draw their customers’ attention towards them by playing

‘Dhol’. This needs to be changed. When we think of the ‘Haat’ – a village market – all we can usually think of is a small hut

raised on a small piece of land where people sell their goods from. This is quite a narrow idea of the, ‘Haat’. We have brought

a major revolution in this field. We have brought the village market to the city, which has made a remarkable difference. We

could have made a small building in any remote corner in the name of ‘Gram Haat’. But since this market is meant for the

poor artists who earn their entire living from these arts, we have made the market in posh and attractive places. The basic idea is

that the building in itself should be so attractive that it should draw the customers inside. Many times people of higher classes

hesitate from visiting these markets that do not have airconditioning or any security. It is not possible to change their

mindset, but it is certainly possible to make the market an attractive place even for these people. It is for the first time in

India that such markets are made where city-bred, aristocrat people would take pride in visiting the ‘Gram Haat’. This village

market would set an example for other village markets in India. This is an experiment, but we have made the first model so

perfect that no one can reject it.

This is our foundation.