BENGALURU: Craftspeople should have been groomed into professionals and entrepreneurs by giving them the same tools as other aspects and fields of developments where the government invested hugely,” said Laila Tyabji at Manasa. The 72-year-old craft activist feels that craft was taken for granted for too long. “All craftspeople were lumped together. We should have broken i
.t down specifically,” Tyabji added.
Born in Delhi, Tyabji’s journey took a turning point when she embarked on a government project to revive traditional crafts of Kutch in Gujarat. The challenges faced during the prolonged project led her to conceive the idea of starting an organisation, which bridges the gap between craftspeople and buyers, Born out of this thought was Dastkar in 1981, with Tyabji being one among the six founding members of the organisation.
At a time when the essence of handcrafted products has lost to technological alternatives, Tyabji feels the craft and industrial products were compatibly priced back in the day, whereas the current-day aspect looks different with prices of raw material shooting up and affecting the field consequently. “We need to focus on what makes craft distinctive, and various other attributes which a machine can never replicate,” she said.
Speaking about the contributions of Dastkar, the organisation which brought the urban buyers to craftspeople, Tyabji emphasises on the need to conquer the new world by taking crafts out of bazaars and focus on the technological and ecological aspects of today’s time. “I was part of the reconstruction project in Kutch after the earthquake in 2001 and it was amazing to see the craft families bounce back first among the rest. I am confident it will be the same even with Kashmir, where a big majority of craftspeople are affected by the current situation and economy,” she said.