(Gram Haat, Annapurna Hall, Paldi, Ahmedabad.May 19, 2005) Haat: A Way to People’s Heart areas
Our President, Dr. Abdul Kalam has conceptualized 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 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 fun – fairs 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 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 air-conditioning 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. A few days back I met someone on my visit to the village market.
He told me that he has made Gujarat famous in Hong Kong and Moscow by selling goods from Gujarat there.
And now he wanted to have the same kind of sales in Ahmedabad.
I told him that you only have to inform people that you have been to Hong Kong and Moscow and people will rush to your shop.
We wish to manage this business of the poor, keeping in mind the psyche of the people.
We have merged groups of 512 artists and workers in the village markets.
But I intend to increase this number to 5000. I want every worker from the remotest part of Gujarat to know that there exists a market where he sells his products.
We need to encourage them to join these markets.
If there are people who have the skill and the art to create something, they should know that the government has created opportunities for them.
There is a possibility that they do not know about the market; that they have never registered with the government; that the NGOs have not let them register, because there are many sadists who do not like the idea of such markets.
This is a major barrier. It is like a disease.
There are many NGOs that virtually rule the rural people.
They are forbidden to enter the market / business if the NGOs don’t get anything out of it.
But it would be a matter of immense pleasure if we manage to convey this message to every single worker in the remotest areas.
We want to support them to grow their businesses. It is our mission to develop the deprived and the lower class of the society.
Let us give these artists something constructive.
This is a direct program, entirely without middlemen.
We want to provide a direct help to the women artists living below the poverty line.