Free Press Journal

Bhopal: Gandhi Shilp Mela evokes lukewarm response


Bhopal: Government is going to great lengths to promote handlooms and handicrafts, however, artisans participating at ‘Gandhi Shilp Mela’ here have nothing to cheer about. The 10-day exhibition-cum-sale that started from December 1 at Bhopal Haat has failed to attract customers, causing huge loss to exhibitors. The artisans are blaming the organisers for poor publicity.

The artisans who have put up their stalls at the Haat told Free Press they are highly disappointed by the lukewarm response they got from Bhopalites, known for their aesthetic taste. All in unison rued that they could not even achieve a break-even. The amount we have spent on lodging and transportation is much more than what we have earned during this exhibition, exclaimed an exhibitor.

Upset over failure of the organisers to publicize the event, artisans who have come from different parts of the country, complained that there is neither a banner at the gate of the Haat, nor any posters were put in the city. Seeing no footfall at the exhibition, a number of local artisans have already shut their stalls.

Nearly 125 stalls have been set up at the Haat. The exhibition has been organised by Shatabdi, a craft and social welfare society and Union ministry of textiles has sponsored it to create a market for artisans. Ali Mohammed, who has come all the way from J&K to sell his products here is not very pleased. “Today is the sixth day of the expo, but we have not been able to sell even a single article. We have brought products worth Rs 40 lakh. Poor public response due to lack of publicity has hit our business hard,” lamented Mohammed.

He further added, “We have not even earned enough to meet our daily expenses. We paid Rs 5,500 for stalls. For transportation we spent Rs 50,000 and now are spending over Rs 600 per day on food and other daily necessities.”A 70-year-old artisan Akhtar from Srinagar decried, “I am ruined, so far I have only earned Rs 8000, while my expenses have reached over Rs 30,000.”

Anand Singh, an artisan from Rudraparyag( Uttarakhand), said, “Since there is no public …. to whom will we sell out products? I think it is happening due to lack of publicity. In six days we have sold products worth Rs 13,500 only.” “Though the authorities have promised to make online payment for transportation and other expenses, however, we have not even got the money that we had spent for the expo at Ujjain last year,” said Singh adding that he would not participate in any exhibition organised by Shatabdi in future.

Danish from Agra said that by the end of the exhibition he would end up spending more than Rs 15,000 on transportation, food and lodging. However, he will get only Rs 5,000 from the authorities and that too after he submits all the bills at the completion of the expo. Birju Bhai from Gujarat, who makes puppets and is participating in the exhibition here for the first time, said, “We are facing a huge loss. We could only sell puppets worth Rs 3,000 in last six days. I don’t know whether sales would go up in remaining three days. I shall not come to this place again for business.”

The 64-year-old Maniben Borish also from Gujarat has come to exhibit and sell her Gujarati salwar-suits and kurtis. However, she was as bitter as any other artisans over the apathetic attitude of the organisers and the absence of customers. A highly disappointed Maniben said she could not sell a single item during the past three days. Lack of publicity consumed our sales, she added.