Varanasi has, since times immemorial, been hailed as a leading center for some of the finest Indian handicrafts. Besides Benarasi Sari, brass ware, copper ware, ivory work, glass bangles, wood, stone and clay toys and exquisite gold jewellery are some of the other crafts Varanasi city is famous for.
On the banks of the River Ganga lies an Artist Ajeet Vishwakarma, the founder of Vishwakarma Handicraft. A “Desi Indian”, he is traditional at heart but has not missed the opportunity of promoting his products on social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp.
As he recalls the days of his entry in the industry, he is reminded of the hardships he faced trying to establish himself. Those were times when he did not have vendors to purchase his raw materials and Electricity came in and out as it pleased. As a fresher in the industry, he started with being a labor himself and then himself started a manufacturing process with four laborers and seeing the stove light up at their place gave immense pleasure and happiness to his heart. This gave him an inspiration and reason to carry on. He feels the biggest achievement of his life was the respect he earned as an artisan.
As the current position of the industry is observed, rage takes over him as he feels with the introduction of the Good & Services tax from 2017 the first time introduction of tax on handicraft products has completely minimized his sales. His regular vendors have refused to make bulk purchase and sales is next to NIL. In addition, the Import-Export activity has turned cold. He uses this platform to make an appeal to the government to relieve the handicraft artists from the burden of heavy taxes.
As we close our talk, we hope for the uplift in the handicraft industry and a bloom in the Import-Export market.