As a person I was not a big time “Art- lover” though I appreciated Art, culture and crafts alot. During my childhood, I travelled to enormous places within India and visited to places that are the masterpiece of some really old arts,crafts and culture. India is a nation where you will see limitless traditional art and crafts whether you go from north to South or from East to west. Rajasthan is famous for its royal heritage and craft work, Gujarat for its textile production and handicrafts, Assam for its beautiful silk work, textile work and Manjaa ( woven mat) and South India for its temples- Dravidian style influence and crafts and textile industry.
When I think about Art its not only limited to a small paining or a hand made piece of craft. For me its spread over is limitless and endless. There is so much more that we can add in it through our creativity and aesthetic ability. Even when we speak, read,write,dance,sing or play or do other things, there is a natural element of art within all this. When I was small I used to spend my time looking at the potterer making clay pots. The beauty in their hands was something I used to envy but then I used to think when I will grow up then only I can do it. (Though it never happened..!!)
The reason what made me write this blog for myself and others,comes from my own need to connect with art and culture more. From last few months I had been thinking about it, reading articles about the same and was talking to some of my friends. What moved me more was that India has one of the best art forms available globally, but then how can we really make sure that every artist and craftsmen in our nation is earning sufficiently. And if they were earning well, then we would not had seen some of the basic art forms vanishing from our very culture.
The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) includes education of traditional crafts in their course curriculum to maintain this culture. Despite these efforts, the roots of these crafts, which are the rural craftsmen, are in decline. Rising costs of materials and supplies have placed many of these craft communities in financial struggle. A recent article in the Times of India predicts the price of steel to rise between Rs 600 and 1000 per tonne.On the other hand, statistics from the All India Handicrafts Board show that craft export has risen from 23 crores to over 9000 crores since the past 50 years.With rising economic and political issues in India, the craft sector is struggling to uphold. Although an interest to retain the culture of crafts is seen in designers and institutions. There are many non-for profits that are coming up to help them, but there are handful in numbers.
I recently made a short trip through the Wildlife Conservation Trust to Ramtek (Nagpur) where I got the chance to visit some schools in the buffer zone of the Pench Tiger Reserve. The sarpanch of the Lodha school was quite an active man,whom I met there. He shared with me about the government school and last years’s floods and the disaster it did to that village and also some of the neighboring villages.
There I was surprised to see the art work done by students in minutes with the help of the leaves (Type of Bamboo) that are of no use and are found in that particular idea surrounding that territory.
Here is the actual story and the person who inspired me to write this: Ankush Madavi is now an alumnus of Lodha Upper Primary school, studying this year onwards in Nagsen high school, Nagpur. However, 3 year a ago his life was on a different path altogether. Ankush lived in Sitapar village that falls under the Bhandara zilla. Both his parents had died when he was eight but he continued living with his relatives in Sitapar. He quit his studies and used to spend his time loitering about in the village and doing small chores for his relatives. Ankush once decided to live with his sister in Lodha for a few days. It was then that Anil Rathod spotted Ankush sauntering about aimlessly. Rathod is the Head Teacher of Lodha Upper Primary school and lives in the village itself. He believes in community development and always helps the villagers in their time of need. He visits the homes of the students studying in his school regularly and has put many efforts in strengthening the School Management Committee in his school. Rathod asked Ankush to join his school instead of wasting his time. Ankush reluctantly agreed to attend school after Mr. Rathod asked him a few times. Rathod noticed that it was difficult for Ankush to stay in school as he was the least interested in the curriculum that was being taught. Rathod then started to encourage him to pursue extra-curricular activities like sports and began using his skills. Ankush then started taking an interest in school and this new found interest reflected in his grades. He became a regular student and got a lot of attention and appreciation for his skills in sports and handicrafts. He studied under the watchful eye of Rathod for three years in Lodha before moving to Nagsen to continue his education. He still visits Rathod and helps with the school if required as his way of giving back.
Rathod’s belief in Ankush and other students make it possible for him to retain them in the school and succeed. His generous efforts and his confidence in the potential of the students have helped him instill in his students a certitude in their own ability and skill. The manner in which the students are empowered at Lodha to manage cultural events, library records, assembly as well as academics is unparalled in the neighbouring areas and almost all of the credit for this accomplishment has to go to Anil Rathod.
P.S. Its a SINCERE REQUEST to all of you who so ever reads it,if you think that you would like to be a part of the change and help Ankush, please connect with me. We all can help him with education and livelihood options.