Dastkar, an organisation that recognises Indian crafts and craftspersons, plays a vital role in not just promoting the country’s culture but also the economic viability of these crafts. Its primary objective has been to effectively dispel dated notions of Indian art and culture and create an interesting ‘generational merge’. 

Dastkar and Delhi government’s joint initiative, Nature Bazaar, offers a vibrant experience, where craft and design meet food, flowers and natural products; and age-old traditions are complemented by contemporary style. At Dastkar Bazaar and exhibitions, artisans sell their products directly to the customers — thus exposing them to the market and giving them first-hand knowledge of customer tastes and market trends.

Laila Tyabji, Dastkar’s chairperson, feels that ‘culture’ in India is a doubled-edged sword for the current generation since it carries the impression of something ‘passé, old fashioned and irrelevant’.  

Nearly 10 years ago, this typecast cultural crusader wore a sari and  kolhapuri chappals , carried a  jhola  and sported a  bindi . Today’s young generation, however, do not seem to align itself with the standard displays of Indian culture.

“The fact is that now things are changing. Our place here (Nature Bazaar) is a case in point. It’s far off but just the fact that we are on the Metro route has helped. We do lively ads using FM radio. We have streams of young people visiting the place; they get excited at discovering the colours and fun of  bandhni  and  kantha ,” Ms. Tyabji tells  The Hindu .

A believer in embracing the virtues of culture along with suave modernity, she says: “It is not that traditional Indian culture is alien to a bursting young generation who are also into pop music and punk. It is just that the two streams have been kept separated where one has been subjected to boring, old-fashioned stuff controlled by the government space. The other is what you see on TV. There has to be a bringing together. I see that happening slowly.” 

“Today, you see someone wearing jeans with a block printed top, carrying a mirror embellished  jhola .”

Fortunately, there has been a significant transformation with spaces opening up to promote art and craft transcending stale generation detractors. “At Nature Bazaar, we have quality craftspeople and every month a different themed event. We have entrepreneurs with a design background who want to work in this sector but do not know how. Out of the 100 stalls we have, 20 are for young entrepreneurs and designers. This means that many people who didn’t know where to retail are suddenly coming through. There has been a huge response,” says Ms. Tyabji.

She admits the disinterest of the younger generation in traditional crafts is aided by unimaginative exhibition of the Indian culture; the government’s monopolistic attitude has even worsened the situation, she feels. “Even I don’t go anywhere to see one diya being lit and to listen to some minister’s speech. Somewhere we have to get culture out of this sarkari patronage. We have to make people really aware that culture is an integral part of every society and civilisation,” says Ms. Tyabji.

Funding and promotion, however, remain daunting tasks for such individual initiatives. Additionally, corporates have for long avoided donating money for Indian craft and culture often clouded by the perception that CSR must visibly help only the marginalised and disadvantaged. Culture is immediately categorised as being a ‘niche’ activity.

“You need to contemporise this experience; you cannot package culture like a museum piece. You have to make it relevant. No one wants to import the entire Mugahl-e-Azam into the 21{+s}{+t} century. At the same, it would be equally silly to say since it is the 21{+s}{+t}century we want everything to be looking like downtown New York. There has to be a mix,” reiterates Ms. Tyabji.



A crusade to contemporise traditional crafts — for the benefit of artisans and GenNext

Dastkar, an organisation that recognises Indian crafts and craftspersons, plays a vital role in not just promoting the country’s culture but also the economic viability of these crafts. Its primary objective has been to effectively dispel dated notions of Indian art and culture and create an interesting ‘generational merge’.

Dastkar and Delhi government’s joint initiative, Nature Bazaar, offers a vibrant experience, where craft and design meet food, flowers and natural products; and age-old traditions are complemented by contemporary style. At Dastkar Bazaar and exhibitions, artisans sell their products directly to the customers — thus exposing them to the market and giving them first-hand knowledge of customer tastes and market trends.

Laila Tyabji, Dastkar’s chairperson, feels that ‘culture’ in India is a doubled-edged sword for the current generation since it carries the impression of something ‘passé, old fashioned and irrelevant’.

Nearly 10 years ago, this typecast cultural crusader wore a sari and kolhapuri chappals , carried a jhola and sported a bindi . Today’s young generation, however, do not seem to align itself with the standard displays of Indian culture.

“The fact is that now things are changing. Our place here (Nature Bazaar) is a case in point. It’s far off but just the fact that we are on the Metro route has helped. We do lively ads using FM radio. We have streams of young people visiting the place; they get excited at discovering the colours and fun of bandhni and kantha ,” Ms. Tyabji tells The Hindu .

A believer in embracing the virtues of culture along with suave modernity, she says: “It is not that traditional Indian culture is alien to a bursting young generation who are also into pop music and punk. It is just that the two streams have been kept separated where one has been subjected to boring, old-fashioned stuff controlled by the government space. The other is what you see on TV. There has to be a bringing together. I see that happening slowly.”

“Today, you see someone wearing jeans with a block printed top, carrying a mirror embellished jhola .”

Fortunately, there has been a significant transformation with spaces opening up to promote art and craft transcending stale generation detractors. “At Nature Bazaar, we have quality craftspeople and every month a different themed event. We have entrepreneurs with a design background who want to work in this sector but do not know how. Out of the 100 stalls we have, 20 are for young entrepreneurs and designers. This means that many people who didn’t know where to retail are suddenly coming through. There has been a huge response,” says Ms. Tyabji.

She admits the disinterest of the younger generation in traditional crafts is aided by unimaginative exhibition of the Indian culture; the government’s monopolistic attitude has even worsened the situation, she feels. “Even I don’t go anywhere to see one diya being lit and to listen to some minister’s speech. Somewhere we have to get culture out of this sarkari patronage. We have to make people really aware that culture is an integral part of every society and civilisation,” says Ms. Tyabji.

Funding and promotion, however, remain daunting tasks for such individual initiatives. Additionally, corporates have for long avoided donating money for Indian craft and culture often clouded by the perception that CSR must visibly help only the marginalised and disadvantaged. Culture is immediately categorised as being a ‘niche’ activity.

“You need to contemporise this experience; you cannot package culture like a museum piece. You have to make it relevant. No one wants to import the entire Mugahl-e-Azam into the 21{+s}{+t} century. At the same, it would be equally silly to say since it is the 21{+s}{+t}century we want everything to be looking like downtown New York. There has to be a mix,” reiterates Ms. Tyabji.

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