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Bhopal

Updated on: Thursday, January 28, 2021, 09:13 PM IST

Bhopal: Struggling through woods, wooden toy-making artisans grope for livelihood

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Bhopal: Artisans from the state who have been making traditional wooden toys for generations are struggling on many fronts including lack of raw materials, modern machinery and proper market.

They say that despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to promote traditional Indian toys, they are yet to receive any help from the government.

Modi, in the 68th episode of his Mann Ki Baat, had said that India has a very small share in the Rs 7 lakh-crore global market for toys. He had also said that promoting Indian toys would not only provide employment to rural youth but also introduce children to Indian culture, art and mythology.

However, most of the artisans who have put up their stalls vending traditional wooden toys at the ongoing Lokrang on the Ravindra Bhavan premises complain that they are facing many hurdles and would not like their next generation to continue with the work. "Pradhanmantri ji apne mann ki baat to karte hain, hamare mann ki baat nahin sunte (The Prime Minister only speaks his mind but not listening to our voices)," says Vijay Kumar from a village near Gurh in Rewa district.

The artisans say that they need the wood of the Doodhi tree for making the toys. They, however, do not get adequate supplies of wood. "For the past two years, the forest department was not supplying the wood to us on ground that it leads to deforestation. We, however, do not need the trunk of the trees. We use the branches and that does not harm forests," says Karan Sharma from Budhni.

Vijay says that they are compelled to buy stolen wood. "It is not only costlier but also risky," he says. Next, they have to pay at the rate of up to Rs 500 per kg for slicing the wood. "We can do the finishing and colouring work using lathe machines ourselves but we don't have cutting machines," he says. Lathe machines consume lots of power. "This month, my electricity bill was around Rs 17,000," he says. Vijay belongs to the third generation of his family doing this work but doesn't want to continue the family tradition. "I have taught the art to my children but I won't like them to take up this work," he says

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Fourth-generation artisan Sujan Singh, also from Budhni, says that marketing was a big problem for them. "There are some shops selling wooden toys on the highway leading to Hoshangabad. We sell our goods to the shopkeepers. We cannot afford to open our own shops," he says.

According to him, they need modern machines too for better output. "There is a lot of talk about promoting traditional toys but no one has yet approached us to find out whether we need any help," he says.

Artisan Mukesh Vishwakarma, who represents the third generation of his family into this trade, says that he gets orders from Nagpur, Aurangabad, Mumbai and other places but is unable to fulfil them. "Our main earnings came from fairs. However, due to Corona pandemic fairs are not being organised for the past one year. Also, traders who used to visit our villages to buy toys are not coming," he says.

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Published on: Thursday, January 28, 2021, 09:13 PM IST
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