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Suicidal Policies, Disastrous Development and Untold Histories

Very few proportion of educated people understand the amazing rich treasures of India that we have lost in the last few decades due to faulty policies made by our policy makers and their counsellors. The amazing traditions, technologies, rich practices that India had, have been lost due to inappropriate imported policies, which were followed blindly by the policy makers without regard to the fate of the common people. The amazing technologies and scientists of India were relegated, ignored and called “Pichhde – meaning Backward”, “Dalit”, and other such labels. No efforts were made to recognize, respect, support or protect the amazing artisans, technologists, scientists, and entrepreneurs who had somehow survived the fatal blows of the British Rule. What Britishers couldn’t do with all their atrocities, was done by the people of India itself, who came to the helm of power.

We have been chained to a particular type of history that people have created from their own perspective and want us to understand the world the way they think it is. The ideologies of the world have forced the history to be mutilated and altered.

When you listen to “India was a poor country, which didn’t have technologies or industries and was totally an agrarian economy," What do you think? When a person says, “It is only after Independence that we have started adopting the latest technologies and thanks to the industrial polices of the government that the country has now industrialization,” What do you think? Do you know that it was this great country, which had amazing environment-friendly science spread out all over the country and it had amazing clusters of industries, which were generating the finest quality goods beyond imagination of the people of the present times.
Suicidal Policies, Disastrous Development and Untold Histories
Let me take you to Sanganer. There were hundreds of textile clusters (where blok printing was used with amazing designs and patterns each having its own unique characteristics and features). Most of these industrial clusters could not survive after independence and withered away. The artisans didn’t receive any support from the government. The government was hell-bent on its so called path of heavy industrialization and grossly ignored the massive skilled workforce that India had. Not only that, the government subsidized and helped the so called imported technologies, which tried to eliminate the age-old Indian technologies. Till 1960's the industrial clusters like Sanganer were using natural dyes, and age-old Indian practices in textile printing. Then came the so called chemical technologies, which were supported by the government (in the name of mass production). It was a fatal blow. Sanganeri print now started using so called modern chemicals and pigments. An industry that was eco-friendly for generations, then became so called modern and started emitting waste water, which was also toxic water. The result was predictable. The entire textile industry was asked to be closed down in 2003 by the apex court due to its adverse impact on the environment.

When a traditional art was on the verge of closure and thousands of people were about to lose their bread and butter, there appeared a group of people- Mr. Vikram Joshi and his team (representatives of Calico Printers Cooperative Society, a society of blok printers, established in 1946) took the challenge of fighting against all odds. They toiled for six months to collect the bits and pieces of the history, went to the Rajasthan Archieves of Bikaner and dug out over 450 year old texts to prove that Blok print is a traditional Indian industry and presented a 60 page memorandum to the Government of India. They finally won the battle when on 2/12/2008 they got the Geographical Indication for Sanganeri Print and were able to survive the Blok Print Art. They also prepared their manufacturing cluster using sustainable business model, where they are undertaking rainwater harvesting, proper treatment of water and re-cycling 80% of the water in the process. Recently, they have been awarded with the most responsible Business Member Organisation (BMO) status by the Ministry of Micro-Small and Medium Scale Industry in the category of cottage industry. Their movement is named as “Jaipur Blok” and they deserve appreciation.
When I got the opportunity to visit the units of the 20 industries which are part of Jaipur Blok, Mr. Vikram Joshi proudly showed me “Jaipur Bloks”, which were, probably, a century old and were really master-piece bloks made of metals. They gave very fine quality printing and could be used for a very long period of time. Those types of bloks cannot be made today, and therefore, those bloks speak loudly about the rich scientific background that we have inherited. He proudly showed hundreds of old designs and patterns called Buta, Buti, Jaal, etc., and talked about the highly developed Indian textile printing industry, which we have certainly lost today. He was very sad to share the stories of amazing artists of Pethapur, Farukhabad and innumerous cities, which lost their bread and butter during the 60's and 70's, and finally, their families completely abandoned this profession and switched to daily wage-earning jobs and other unskilled works. Highly skilled workers were forced to become unskilled workers and a highly environment-friendly and competitive industry was given a fatal blow.

Weaving imagination into the finest designs
Crafting the beauty of the nature
Rubbing the textures of the soil
Injecting the fragrance of life into the textiles
The artisans who survived the British tyrannies
The dying artists, and the lonely crusader
Let's rewrite the history
Let's appreciate the traditional technologies
Let's revisit our history from a fresh perspective
Salutations to the Artisans! Salutations to the traditions!!

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 9th April 2015.
Dr. Trilok Kumar Jain
Dr. Trilok Kumar Jain is a contributing writer at Inspiration Unlimited eMagazin

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