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First annual Toshali crafts fair begins on dull note

NO TAKERS? Inaugural function of Toshali National Crafts Mela, 2007 is over but majority of stalls are yet to come up in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

Correspondent

Held by the Ministry of Tourism in association with State Government

BHUBANESWAR: The much-hyped first annual national Toshali crafts fair mounted by the Ministry of Tourism in association with the State Government began with a dull note here on Saturday. While Orissa Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) has been handling this big-budget event, Development Commissioners of Handicrafts and Handlooms, Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, Kolkata and the Song and Drama Division have been its collaborators.

Four mega events

In a major move to give a boost to the marginalised crafts sector, the Centre has come up with four such mega events in the country replicating the famous Surajkund crafts fair being mounted near the national capital.

Ministry of Tourism has chosen Bhubaneswar as one of the four venues.

On Saturday forenoon, when State Chief Secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathy and Union tourism secretary Ashok Kumar Misra arrived at the venue, the sprawling Janata Maidan, to inaugurate the event, more than half of the stalls were still vacant. And there were hardly 50 people, all government officials excluding the media persons.

Ironically enough, the speakers went on comparing the fair with the Surajkund mela again and again in their address.

While the hosts had claimed that there would be participation from the SAARC countries, there were none from these nations.

Requesting anonymity, sources in OTDC revealed that that the lukewarm response to the fair has been a result of the hurried decision of the Ministry and the State Government to host the fair before the end of the fiscal year apparently to "utilise" the funds "at any cost".

Janata Maidan has never been a favourite venue for holding such events that seeks participation of the city folks for success, pointed out the sources and added that the ideal venue was the Exhibition Ground at the heart of the city where the North East crafts fair is still on.

"Festivals have become mere annual rituals for the government agencies", he observed.