Government organisers did not provide food or stay to women participants

For some members of self-help groups, who landed in Mangalore to take part in the State government-organised exhibition-cum-sale, it was a complete put-off. The official apathy has made them wary of returning for another such event.

Displaying sweets, pickles, jewellery, bangles, paper bags, hand-stitched clothes, herbal remedies, juice, among other items, several SHGs from the district and some from Karkala, Udupi, and Gadag set up stalls at the exhibition centre organised by the Karnataka State Women’s Development Corporation and the Department of Women and Child Development at Kanti Church, near Mangaladevi Temple. The exhibition started on October 20 and ended on Wednesday.

A woman, who came from Udupi, was shocked to find the corporation had not arranged for their accommodation. “There are six of us who have come from outside the district, and five are women. We do not know the city well. Do they expect us to sleep on the streets?” she said.

After the exhibition wrapped up on the first day, the six participants pleaded with the church to let them sleep in the hall itself. Permission was given begrudgingly. “Why couldn’t the organisers arrange their stay?” she said.

With sales reducing – she did only Rs. 100 business on Tuesday – she was also upset that the department did not dole out Travelling Allowance or Dearness Allowance to the participants. Other participants chipped in, saying they were given TA and DA during Mysore, Madikeri, Brahmavar exhibitions.

Sales, they said, have been dull because of the heavy rain in the evening, and the lack of advertising for the exhibition. Hidden behind a row of colour stalls that have propped up in front of Mangaladevi, it is easy to miss the narrow entrance to the Church Hall.

Girija and her daughter-in-law came from Gadag to sell their homemade eatables. In four days, their earnings totalled to a little more than Rs. 7,000. “We have spent a lot to make these foods, apart from spending around Rs. 2,000 for tickets. The corporation had not even arranged for food or drinking water. I do not think we’ll make much profit,” she said.

Women’s corporation in-charge Chandrika said the district-level fair was organised at a cost of Rs. 15,000. “In this we rented out the hall, benches, and organised an inauguration programme,” she said.

She said she would request the corporation to sanction a bigger budget to ensure the exhibition remains enticing for participants.

More In: Mangalore