Northeastern handicrafts to be promoted abroad

Friday, 28 March 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India has decided to promote handmade products from its northeastern states not only within the country but also worldwide.

The National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) has organised Udyog Expo 2003, a six-day exhibition here to showcase handmade products from the seven northeastern states as well as Sikkim.

R.K. Chauturvedi, general manager of NSIC, told IANS: "Because of their location, these states lack exposure and cannot market their products which are of very high quality.

"The intention of the exhibition is to help artisans from the northeast market their products in other parts of the country and then in Europe and the U.S."

The handmade products exhibited are silk shawls and garments, cane and bamboo furniture, artificial jewellery and various handicrafts.

A 20-member South African trade delegation visited the exhibition.

Jacky Kola, head of the delegation, said: "These handmade products are of international quality, and we would like to enter into joint ventures with the artisans to promote them not only in South Africa but all over the world."

He said South Africa had an agreement with the U.S. under which products imported from his country would be charged minimal duties. He said South Africa could import products from India and export them to the U.S. with some value addition.

Kola said: "We can import raw silk from Assam and after some value addition export it to the U.S. It will be a win-win situation for us and the Indian artisans."

Kola, who bought a painting from a Sikkim stall for only 100, said: "It costs only $2 and with a good frame in South Africa we can export it for a much higher price."

The live demonstration of the weaving of silk shawls by an artisan from Assam and colourful shawls from Nagaland attracted a lot of people.

Said Potlako Gasennelwe, an interior decorator from South Africa: "The quality of the silk is unique. I would like to make cushions and bedspreads with a heavy lining. They will look fantastic."

Most of the 45 stall owners are exhibiting their products outside the northeastern region for the first time.

Said Meena Doley, a silk weaver from insurgency-ravaged Assam: "I am surprised at the kind of response we are getting. People are appreciating our products. We hope to get good business if we get exposure."

Added Sanjiv Srivastava, manager of NSIC: "We want to eliminate middlemen who usually cheat talented but poor artisans form the northeast. We have provided the stalls for free and given freight subsidy to encourage participation.

"The northeastern states always get bad publicity because of violence there. We want to show the rest of the country that they produce excellent handmade products.

"From Delhi we will take this exhibition to Mumbai and Chennai and then to Europe and the U.S.," said Srivastava.
Source: IANS
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