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Primary Projects

Barmer Crafts Initiative

In 2019 ITRHD signed an MOU with Hindustan Gum & Chemicals Ltd. (HG&C) for a project focusing on Livelihood Enhancement in Heritage-Rich Areas of Western Rajasthan, with Phase 1 concentrating on a Crafts Development Initiative in Barmer.

Jodhpur and the regions of western Rajasthan are to a large extent supported by "cultural industries," primarily cultural tourism, handicraft export, and folk performance traditions. And in this seemingly barren land, residents have also forged unique and sustainable relationships with their environment and with their scarce resources. It is an extraordinary part of India, but much of it is unfortunately threatened and in danger of extinction. It is for this reason that ITRHD felt urgent intervention was needed, and HG&C generously agreed to support our efforts.

As with most of rural India, Barmer District has seen increasing migration from village to city, and migration from finely-honed traditional skills into more financially rewarding occupations. In the process we are losing not only precious heritage, but also traditional ways of life that were closely intertwined with the natural environment. The Crafts Development Initiative in Barmer is planned to provide new economic feasibility, while restoring pride and confidence in the areas rich traditions of craftsmanship. There are many reasons why skilled and talented rural artisans of the area are living in poverty, with little or no access to the basic amenities of modern life. These are complex issues, and the challenge before ITRHD is to work with the residents on a holistic plan for sensitive and sustainable development.

Project advisors include Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur/Marwar, two ITRHD trustees who have extensive experience of working in the area and knowledge of local crafts, senior officers and trustees of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and the Jal Bhagirathi Foundation, which works in over 2,000 villages of the area, and several individuals who are actively involved with the crafts and cultural traditions of the area. We are also working with other experts who are advising on specific aspects of the project.

An initial exhibition was held in Barmer in September 2019, organized by our local consultant, Shri Yashovardhan Shandilya, who has extensive experience with crafts in the region. Several artisans and their products were also given exposure at the RIFF (Rajasthan International Folk Festival) held in Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, in October 2019, and as "Guests Artists" at ITRHDs annual Azamgarh Festival in Delhi in December 2019.

This is a project-in-process, we are learning and refining as we go along.