Chandravati (left) and Meena in Ranchi on Sunday after their return. (Prashant Mitra)
Ranchi, Aug. 8: It was a triumph of rural craftsmanship at a global forum.
Two rural artisans trained by Jharcraft, Meena Kumari (23) of Dulmi in Ramgarh and Chandravati Devi (25) of Navalsahi in Koderma, stole the show at the ongoing Shanghai World Expo 2010, selling handicraft and handloom products worth Rs 5.5 lakh.
Jharcraft, a Jharkhand state enterprise to promote tussar silk, is currently training 1,600 female artisans. Among them, Meena and Chandravati were the lucky duo chosen for the Chinese trip.
Before leaving, they also underwent a 10-day training at Jharcraft’s New Delhi emporium, on the dos and don’ts of international salesmanship.
Jharcraft managing director Dhirendra Kumar said the duo had showcased products worth Rs 8.5 lakh. “It is a testimony to their salesmanship and the quality of our wares that Meena and Chandravati sold products worth Rs 5.5 lakh. Our handmade products got tremendous exposure,” Kumar said. He added that their counterparts from Uttaranchal sold products worth Rs 1.75 lakh.
“Comparatively, our sale graph was much higher,” said Kumar.
With their 25-day business trip — sponsored by Union rural development ministry — bringing Rs 5.5 lakh to Jharcraft’s kitty, the women are understandably ecstatic at the tremendous Chinese response to their silk duppattas, cushion covers, silk sarees, quilts, bags, purses, kantha stitch, terracotta and leather items. “Bahut acha laga. The Chinese were hospitable and referred to us as Indu. They appreciated our Indian sartorial style,” said an elated Meena, a mother of three, who was trained by Jharcraft in kantha-stitch embroidery in a tie-up with NIFT, Calcutta.
For Chandravati, the foreign-returned tag has bestowed upon her a celebrity status in her village.
“At Navalsahi, everyone is thrilled that someone from the village went to videsh. And yes, the Chinese appreciated our wares — our silk sarees, lac bangles, bags and ties that sold like hot cakes,” she beamed.
Both Meena and Chandravati said they got around the knotty language problem by learning a few simple Chinese words and taking the interpreter’s help.
Currently, Jharcraft produces 19,000 metric tonnes of silk annually. “We are trying our best to compete in the demanding international market. China produces 95,000 metric tonnes of silk annually,” Kumar said.