Tuesday October 24, 2017

The dire need to revive the Assamese brass industry

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Born_bronze_-_Bronze_castsDhubri (Assam) : Artisans working for generations to make captivating brass artifacts and utensils are looking towards the government – and have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi – for succor as their vocation is threatened by rising costs and dwindling profits.

Over 300 artisans, involved in the brass industry in Kartimari and Sapatgram villages in Kokrajhar and Dhubri districts respectively, have now sought to attract the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – who has launched the “Make in India’ and “Make in the Northeast” initiatives – to revive the industry that is around a century old.

The traditional way of making different things from brass has not only given the villagers an identity but also provided employment opportunities to the youths of the two villages.

The once flourishing village industry has hit such a nadir that many artisans have already shut shop and their young wards have since switched over to other more remunerative professions or simply left for Kerala, Gujarat and neighboring West Bengal to work as manual laborers.

“We have been making brass utensils and artifacts like plates, bowls, cymbals and other items used for daily household work, as well as in marriages and religious functions for generations now. From more than 300 people of over 100 families once dependent on the industry, the number has now come down to less than 50 families. We not only supplied brass items to markets in Assam and West Bengal, but also won awards way back in 1993 and 1994,” artisan Ram Prasad Karmakar, 45, said.

Increasing production cost and shrinking profits forced Karmakar to abandon brass production activity. He is now earning his livelihood by doing contractual work under the state electricity department.

“I will definitely resume production of brass if we get some help from the government,” he said.

The villagers, mostly Hindu Bengalis, collect brass scrap supplied by traders in nearby markets, smelt it in coal-fired ovens and then make attractive items by hand. They forge the brass items with the help of tools they have themselves prepared.

“There is still a huge market for our products in Assam and West Bengal. We require electric machines to melt brass scrap, but it requires a lot of money. We formed a cooperative society a few years ago, but it did not last long due to lack of government support,” Bimal Karmakar, another former metal artisan at Kartimari village in Kokrajhar district, said.

“After we heard Prime Minister Narendra Modi talking about reviving village industries under the ‘Make in India’ campaign, we got an email sent to Modi for help. We even received a confirmation it had been received,” he said.

“If the government provides us financial support and a little help to improve our skills, we can revive the village industry. Young boys who left for Kerala, Gujarat and West Bengal can return and work here again. Many old artisans are very good in designing, but the trade will be lost forever unless something is done,” said Sambhu Karmakar, a brass metal artisan at Sapatgram.

The village industry used to provide jobs to even women as they made the earthen pots used in melting brass scrap or other raw material used for making brass utensils.

Bad shape of the brass industry has not only led to economic hardships for the villagers but also led to other social problems.

“People have migrated to urban areas in search of jobs. They have also begun sending youngsters to work in paddy fields in nearby villages or even outside, which has led to increase in the number of school dropouts here,” Sambhu Karmakar said.

(IANS)

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7 Beautiful Places To Visit In North East India

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Places to visit in North East India.
Places to visit in North East India. Pixabay

North Eastern India, the home to the ‘Seven Sisters’ is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions, yet the most unexplored part of the country. From Shillong’s rainfall to Assam’s beautiful tea gardens, the region is indeed the home to exotic beauty. However, the tourism of the region has gained pace in the recent years. The picturesque views of the streams, hills and farms are breathtaking.

Here is the list of 7 beautiful places to visit in North East India:

1. Kaziranga National Park

places to visit in North East India
Kaziranga National Park. Pixabay.

Kaziranga national park in Assam is famous for its one-horned rhinoceros. It is the most famous tourist spot & one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India. The place has been declared a UNESCO heritage site and attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. Hundreds of migratory birds and around 35 species of mammals fly down every season to the national park. The incredible fauna cannot be found anywhere else in India.

2. Nathula Pass

Places to visit in North East India.
Nathula Pass. Wikimedia.

A trek on the Nathula Pass in Sikkim will give you a memory completely irreplaceable. The beautiful scenic views which you will observe through your trek journey can be found nowhere else in India & makes if one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India. A vacation to this place with your family during the summers is a must. Also the fact that a bearable temperature in the summer season will let you enjoy your trek more. A trek in the Nathula pass should right away be added to your bucket list.

3. Cherrapunji

Places to visit in North East India.
Cherrapunji. Wikimedia.

Cherrapunji in Meghalaya is the world’s wettest place. The place is known for receiving the maximum rainfall in the world. And, the weather of the place adds to its beauty. It is definitely one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India.

Also Read: 5 Inspiring Travel Stories That Will Give You Serious Wanderlust

4. Phodong Monastery

Places to visit in North East India.
Phodong Monastery. Wikimedia.

According to reports, the Phodong monastery in Sikkim is built in the 18th century. It situated 28 kms from Gangtok. It is known to be one of the most religious places for a sect of Buddhists. The place is a residence to around 260 monks. The place is full of positive energy. The people around the monastery are amicable and have some interesting stories in their pockets to tell you. The architecture of the monastery depicts a unique culture and beauty. These characteristics make this monastery, one of the beutiful places to visit in North East India. So grab your tickets soon!

5. Dampa Tiger Reserve

places to visit in North East India
A bird in the Dampa Tiger Reserve. Wikimedia.

Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Mizoram & a must visit place in north east india. The Tiger Reserve is a home to leopards, barking deer, sloth bear, langurs, Indian Python and a variety of birds. The fauna and flora of the place will leave you stunned.

6. Majuli Islands

Places to visit in North East India.
Majuli Island. Wikimedia.

A river island situated along the Brahmaputra is a home to many tribes. A variety of birds can be found on the island. The size of the island has been reduced due to river erosion by the Brahmaputra.

7. Shilloi lake

Places to visit in North East India.
Shilloi Lake. Wikimedia.

Shilloi lake, the largest natural lake in Nagaland situated in the state’s Phek district is covered by picturesque views including beautiful mountain peaks and trees. The best time to visit this lake is in the summer season. The beauty of the lake makes it one of the most beautiful places to visit in North East India.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.

 Twitter: @ImMeghaacharya. 

 

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Assam Government signs a MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity

It will provide Internet connections to 26,000 villages and 1,500 tea garden areas in Assam

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Assam Government has signed MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity
Assam Government has signed MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity. Pixabay

Guwahati, Assam, September 8, 2017: The Assam government on Thursday signed a MoU with Google India to take Internet connectivity to the remotest part of the north-eastern state.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the government would work to provide Internet connections to 26,000 villages and 1,500 tea garden areas in Assam under the MoU and thus increase digital literacy.

Information Technology Secretary Nitin Khare and Google India Country Head (Policy) Chetan Krishnaswami signed the Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of Sonowal.

“Technology rules the roost in the 21st century and the state government has upped the ante to use technology to carry forward the fruits of development to the remotest parts of Assam,” the Chief Minister said.

He said the ties with Google was a way forward to strongly pitch Guwahati as a natural gateway to the South-East Asian countries.

Sonowal said his government in sync with the Centre was working for the success of Startup initiative but the success of such programmes sans technology would be a distant dream.

“The MoU will be used as a launchpad to achieve the state government’s vision of women empowerment, skill development, and universal education,” he said.

The Chief Minister asked the Information Technology Department to take steps to make technology acceptable and favourable among the rural populace so as to catalyse rural development. (IANS)

 

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The Need to Celebrate National Handloom Day in India: Its Significance and Relevance in Modern Times

This year Guwahati was chosen as the venue to celebrate the 3rd National Handloom Day

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National Handloom Day
Significance of National Handloom Day. Pixabay
  • Various initiatives have been undertaken for the betterment of weavers by the Indian Government
  • More than 50% of total weaver population of India resides in North Eastern Region, most of which are women
  • This year Guwahati was chosen as the venue to celebrate 3rd National Handloom Day

New Delhi, August 7, 2017: In order to keep the country’s traditions alive, and encourage people to wear hand-made loom, National Handloom Day is observed and celebrated in India on August 7. The 3rd National Handloom Day event was held in Guwahati, Assam.

This day is celebrated to remind ourselves of a 1905 Swadeshi Movement during which Indians boycotted British products in favor of the revival of domestic ones and in modern times to encourage people to wear handloom products.

Wearing Handloom is not a practice that should be celebrated for a day but it should be worn all year round to remain rooted in one’s culture, tradition and to support weavers who put their years of experience, time, energy and soul into creating these pieces of art.

Bishnupur Handloom, West Bengal
Bishnupur Handloom from West Bengal. Wikimedia

This year Guwahati was chosen as the venue to celebrate the 3rd National Handloom Day and to grace the occasion a documentary on handloom was also screened.

Ajay Tamta, Union Minister of State, Textiles, Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister of Assam and Anant Kumar Singh, Textiles Secretary were present at the event. Ajay Tamta said that he appreciates and salutes the handloom weavers for their commitment, dedication, and skill. He said that handloom weavers should be able to earn due value for their products and that the Government is working in this direction for which various initiatives have been undertaken for the betterment of weavers such as- Hathkargha Samvardhan Sahayata Scheme and MUDRA scheme.

According to the Hathkargha Samvardhan Sahayata Scheme, the Government of India will assist the weavers by bearing 90% of the cost of new looms. As per MUDRA scheme, loans can be availed by the weavers of Rs. 50,000/- to Rs. 10 lakh without any security.

The Minister also informed that the Ministry of Textiles has entered into MoUs with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) as per which children of weavers will be able to avail school and university education (with 75% of fees being borne by the Government of India). Sonowal noted that more than 50% of total weaver population of India resides in North Eastern Region, most of which are women. If the government is successful in improving the lifestyle of weavers it will empower various north eastern women and girls.

ALSO READ: ‘Livelihood Creation in India’: The Socioeconomic well being of Women through West Bengal’s Murshidabad Handlooms

Smriti Irani, Union Textiles Minister while addressing a gathering at Ahmedabad said, the weavers will be able to derive the benefit of services like online courses, banking, passport, insurance, PAN card, voter ID and AADHAAR from Weavers’ Service Centres (WSCs), from this year onwards. Another MoU was signed between Ministry of Textiles and designers. Under which, the reputed textile designers will work with handloom weavers, passing to them their design assistance and knowledge. This move is expected to improve the earnings of weavers and the market value of the handloom products.

Another MoU was signed between Ministry of Textiles and designers. Under which, the reputed textile designers will work with handloom weavers, passing to them their design assistance and knowledge. This move is expected to improve the earnings of weavers and the market value of the handloom products.

Jayasri Samyukta Iyer, fashion designer and executive committee member of the Craft Council of India, said that this year, they want to highlight three types of saree’s and its revival process. Kodalli Karuppur saree belonging to Tamil Nadu, it was used in the ancient times during Thanjavur kingdom and seems non-existent now. Patteda Anchu saree belongs to Karnataka, and lastly Gauda Adivasi saree from Goa. Each of the above-mentioned saree’s has an interesting history, but sadly, its relevance is fading away.

Some popular handloom fabrics are Bomkai from Subarnapur, Orissa, Mangalagiri cotton from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, Tussar silk from Jharkhand, Paithani Brocade from Aurangabad, Maharashtra, Maheshwari from Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, Pochampally Ikat from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh and Patola weave from Patan, Gujarat.

It is high time that we come up with an initiative to improve marketing strategies for handloom sector in the country and uplift the weaver’s community; also to encourage people to move away from power loom and incorporate handloom products in the form of saree’s, shirts, trousers and skirts in their lives.

There is a need find ways to increase remuneration for the weavers so that they can financially support their families, the future generation is willing to take up weaving and the art of weaving can be sustained. To popularize it amongst youngsters, celebrities can wear handloom saree’s, shirts, skirts, dresses and make a cool style statement out of it, influencing thousands of people at a time.

– by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


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