This read just goes on to show how if the Govt pays attention, close attention, so many people, just like that, can be lifted out of abject poverty.
The story is about the madur mat weavers in West Bengal. A permanent fixture in most Bengali households, the mat was dying a death like all other locally made artisan products in India. The people living it were living in complete poverty with hardly food to eat.
The Govt then decided to promote local crafts and held its first fair for these mat weavers. That changed their lives forever. Today, they all are super busy, weaving mats and have expanded their product line to include table mats, carry bags, hats and spectacle cases among other items, in various attractive colours. The price of an ordinary mat made of jute ropes and thick madur sticks are usually around Rs 150, while a masland mat can be priced as high as around Rs 1.5 lakh and weigh just 200-250 grams. As the Govt increased the number of fairs for handloom products, the demand only grew. In 2018, the madur mat got the GI tag. Being biodegradable and environmentally friendly, it is now gaining popularity abroad too.
The MSME department of West Bengal built nine common facility centres for the artisans where they can do collective work in case of bulk orders. They are in the process of building guest rooms for tourists where they can get first-hand knowledge about the craft and a small museum is also in the works.
This is how every state Govt can take the initiative and promote local artisans – it keeps the art alive and lifts people out of poverty; this is better than any social welfare scheme which does not reach most.