New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) Vedanta Aluminium, India’s largest aluminum producer, is stepping up support for local artisanal communities in and around its operations in Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
Commemorating the rich cultural and artistic heritage of the country, Vedanta Aluminum is once again committed to creating sustainable livelihoods for artisan communities by perfecting them, helping them integrate their art forms into national and international platforms. and taking advantage of market linkage opportunities.
For this, Vedanta Aluminum works with Dhokra artisans from the village of Kankeri, located near its alumina refinery in Lanjigarh (Kalahandi, Odisha). Nestled deep in the forests of Kalahandi, Kankeri is home to skilled craftsmen in the ancient metalworking art form of Dhokra, which has been part of India’s rich handicraft heritage for almost 5000 years, dating back to civilization of the Indus Valley.
However, intergenerational know-how was limited to making rudimentary trinkets for personal use and selling in the markets of neighboring villages. However, the meager earnings were not enough to support their families, forcing artists to abandon their expertise and migrate to neighboring states to work as construction workers.
Recognizing the potential of this village to become a vibrant hub of Dhokra, Vedanta Aluminum trained artisans to produce contemporary designs through modern techniques, provided initial start-up capital for metal and raw material sourcing and created market linkage opportunities (through exhibitions and other relevant platforms). ) to sell their artwork at a better price. This led to a reverse migration movement, in which, seeing the success of the project in transforming the lives of a few artisans, others began to return to the village to pursue their passion for Dhokra art.
Similarly, in Chhattisgarh, Vedanta Aluminum has paved the way for rural women’s empowerment through the ‘Disha’ community development project. The Bharat Aluminum Company (BALCO), the Chhattisgarh-based subsidiary of Vedanta, designed the Disha project for skills development of local women, helping them to form self-help groups (SHGs), empowering them financially and allowing them to pursue their entrepreneurial projects.
Among other trainings at the company’s Nari Shakti Kendra in the village of Dondro, the wall art program has emerged as a particularly lucrative option for women wanting to run their own micro-enterprise. Wall paintings are the most expressive among the myriad forms of craftsmanship in Chhattisgarh, aesthetically preserving the various facets of life, tradition and cultural heritage of the state’s tribal population. From vocational training to connection with the market, BALCO has continued to support these women to advance their businesses.
Speaking about Vedanta Aluminum’s efforts to preserve and promote cultural heritage and traditions, Rahul Sharma, CEO – Vedanta Aluminum said, “India’s rich history is evident in its myriad of crafts and forms of craftsmanship. ‘art. We take great pride in helping to preserve and integrate art forms like Dhokra. and murals, and in the process of creating successful businesses for these artists. On World Art Day, we recommit to strengthening our efforts to create more sustainable livelihoods in art and culture, enabling communities of artisans to become self-reliant and self-reliant participants in the development of the country. »
The ripple effect of Vedanta Aluminum’s various community initiatives is evident:
In Odisha, encouraged by the fruits of its labor for the revival of the Dhokra art form, the company established a raw material bank for continued artistic production, provided diesel generators to support Dhokra production, opened an account self-help group banking to provide adequate financial support, and educated and assisted households to open bank accounts to save their hard-earned money and earn interest on their deposit
Vedanta collaborated with the government of Odisha for the public recognition of these artisans through “Artisan Cards”, which helped artisans to participate in government-organized exhibitions, demonstrate and market their works.
The Dhokra Art Revival project has caught the attention of local authorities, who are now partnering with the company in its efforts to improve the quality of life of local communities by helping with infrastructure, education, agricultural practices, health and sanitation.
In Chhattisgarh, through BALCO’s community initiatives, up to 3,000 women have become financially empowered in Korba. Many of them have established their own businesses in wall art.
Through Dhokra art and wall painting, local artisans who were previously forced to live in abject poverty on minimal income now earn around INR 50,000 per month.
Similarly, Vedanta Aluminum has frequented tribal art forms such as ‘Saura’, sand art, folk theater and many more through its operations.