The Socio-economic Challenges To The Artisans Of Kumartuli
Kumortuli means potters’ quarter. This neighbourhood in Kolkata holds an important place in history and heritage of not only Bengal, but also of India. This place is populated with people, who are engaged in the traditional family business of clay idol-making. Thus, it has grown into a trade that supports the livelihood of many families. Apart from the core occupation of clay idol-making there are many other services that support this industry to a large extent. However, with changing times, this industry has faced many challenges and undergone many changes to survive.
This study aims to shed some light on the challenges and the problems that this age-old trade is facing today. With globalization and with auspicious presence of Bengalis all over the world, idols from Kumortuli are being exported even to London and USA today. West Bengal government is organizing road shows before immersion of Devi Durga. It is getting all-India media coverage. Even some of the idols are managing to secure a place in museums and art galleries in India and abroad. Durga puja in Kolkata is becoming one of the greatest tourists’ attractions worldwide. Apparently it seems that the life and trade of the artisans behind the biggest festival of Bengal is on a flourish. Unfortunately, reality poses as an antithesis to this apparent scenario.
The artisans, whose skilled hands passionately craft the idols, that later makes the whole city spellbound, indeed remain in the dark. With the emergence of new technologies and new materials to craft idols, commodification of Durga puja, cross-cultural influence on the taste of newer generations and inflation is exposing this trade to new challenges every day. Moreover, lack of proper infrastructure and poor working conditions in the workshops and studios are adding to their problems. In this scenario, another important question that arises is how interested is the next generation to pursue their family trade, when today they have many other doors open to earn their livelihood?
Thus, to get a proper picture of the artisans of Kumortuli, it has been decided to walk through the narrowest lanes and bylanes of this region of North Kolkata and talk to the artisans themselves. The association of the artisans can also be valuable source of information for this study. Different articles, newspaper reports and other research works on the art and artisans may also lend an insight and thus enrich the study.
Dipanjan BiswasRoll no: 107/MSW/1600264th semester, MSW,Indian Institute Of Social Welfare And Business Management