In this Bastar operation, collective power flows through a website


By Sukant Deepak New Delhi, Nov 6 : Rewind to 2018 -- artisans and those associated with the art sector could not even imagine a doomsday scenario for themselves which the Covid-19 pandemic presented. Everything was going well -- multiple exhibitions showcasing the best of crafts from the interior most parts of the country, collaborations with business houses and export orders. Even as Covid-19 struck and the consequent lockdowns crippled the artisan (and arts) sectors, two young men from the Bastar region in Chhattisgarh realised that something needed to be done for the artisans in the area whose survival depended solely on their craft. "That is how 'Lok Bazar' was conceived. Seeing the artisans absolutely distressed on account of not being able to sell their products, we decided to do an extensive on-ground research and speak to them. We figured that the best way out would be to connect every artisan to a single online platform -- in this case 'Lok Bazar'," Founders Ayush Shrivastava and Gaurav Kushwah, who were at the recent National Tribal Dance Festival held in Raipur recently, told IANS. Currently working with 25 artisans in different categories and art forms, the founders stress that the platform is aimed at finding artisans from the inferior most parts of the country and giving them their rightful place. "For several endangered handicrafts to survive, it is extremely important that artisans get financial stability and have a global buyer base," says Ayush. Though currently focussing on the Indian market, they plan to explore the international one soon. "Considering the fact that they are hand-made products and many of them require detailing that takes many weeks, global buyers are bound to be interested," feels Gaurav. "During their interactions with the artisans, the duo realised that the latter did not possess accurate knowledge -- what kind of products to make for which market. This is precisely why we created different categories -- corporate gifting, wedding gifting, hardware sections, stationery items etc. Then we began to connect the artisans to that specified market. If an artisan was an expert in a particular bamboo product, we gave him orders for that, someone skilled at making another thing was kept engaged in that category only. This is how we bifurcated all things," says Ayush. Stressing that the response has been tremendous considering the span of time that 'Lok Bazar' has been in existence, Gaurav says that customers want to talk directly to the artisans and they facilitate the same. "The pandemic seems to be subsiding now and exhibitions are opening up. However, the artisans are happy that the market created through the online mode provides extra source of earning. We have the products picked up, do the packaging, branding and deliver them while the money is credited directly to their accounts," the duo conclude. - /IANS


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