Travel Trade Journal

Novel attempt to preserve age-old heritage and craft

Aimed to save the dying art and craft industry of Uttar Pradesh, the state government has unveiled a unique scheme and teamed up with Discovery India that not only promises to better the working conditions of the craftsmen but also brings an online global

- Swaati Chaudhury

Here’s some reason to cheer up for art aficionado­s across the world. To provide the much-needed boost to the sagging art and craft industry of Uttar Pradesh and sustain the living standards of craftsmen, the Uttar Pradesh Government has joined hands with Discovery Communicat­ions India to roll out a one-of-a-kind travelogue themed“Heritage Trails, One District One Product” (ODOP). The travel documentar­y brings to light the ancient, rich heritage and art works of tourist destinatio­ns in Uttar Pradesh and was launched on September 25, this year.

ODOP is a cherished project of the Uttar Pradesh Government that has been set up in 2018 to revive the dying craft industry of the state. One gets to watch the documentar­y on YouTube anchored by Gaurav Chopra that highlights the indigenous art forms of the state right from Agra, the City of Taj, to Benares. It explores the rich cultural diversity of the state and takes us on a delightful journey of different tourist destinatio­ns of the state.

The scheme was conceptual­ized to identify a specialize­d artwork from each of the 75 districts in the state and create a productbas­ed traditiona­l, industrial hub.

The ODOP scheme has taken off in three stages- the initial stage was to provide financial aid to motivate the craftsmen to create new artworks while the state government provided subsidies to the artisans in the second stage. The artisans were supported with tool kits and raw materials required to execute their work. Eventually, the artisans were provided an online global market to promote their stuff. In today’s age, craftsmen based in Agra can export their products to foreign shores, thanks to the ODOP scheme.

The artworks of Benares are highly revered. Take the example of Pink Legacy or Gulabi Meenakari that are most sought after by art lovers all across the globe. Agra is reputed for its exotic artworks, including marble inlaid works that are practised by craftsmen for generation­s. It was during the Mughal period when the Taj Mahal was built, the craftsmen began the work of marble inlaying that involves long hours of painstakin­g effort. It takes a considerab­le period of time to complete the intricate work. The Gulabi Meenakari and marble inlaid works give a unique identity to the state.

The launch of the ODOP scheme has enabled the craftsmen to overcome the financial constraint­s in their lives and it’s been the past three years that the state has recorded an increase in the export of artworks by 38 per cent. Overall, the scheme promises a bright future for the state craftsmen. It has provided job avenues to over 150 million youth and sustained their livelihood.

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