Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, while many industries have suffered major economic blows, there are some who are likely to benefit because of the India-China dispute.
Among these hopefuls are the artisans who have been working in potters colony in southwest Delhi’s Uttam Nagar for almost 40 years. In addition to the wholesale market for hand-made earthenware, there are retail markets too in the colony. People from across the country come here to buy these clay items.
There are about 500 families in the potters colony who are directly involved in this trade with earthen items being prepared in almost every house in the colony.
For Deepawali, earthen items like diyas, pots, decorative items, jugs, cups and sculptures are prepared. However, some families buy earthenware items from Gujarat, Kolkata and sell them in other markets by getting them beautifully painted here.
All these families suffered a jolt when the Covid-19 pandemic began with not a single earthen item being sold from March to May. Now, people are gradually coming out of their homes and buying goods.
One of India’s most popular festivals ‘Deepawali’ will be celebrated across the country next month. Many people who have suffered heavily amid the lockdown and unlock, might not celebrate the Festival of Lights with pomp and show but in a simple way with precautions. With the festival approaching the potters hope that business will increase three-fold, especially because of the India-China dispute and boycott of Chinese goods including decorative Diwali items, and the damage caused by the pandemic can also be compensated for.
The potters’ community believes that using diyas (earthen lamps) over China-made lights and decorative items during Deepawali will not only increase their business but will also support the boycott of Chinese items across the country.
Harkishan makes pottery and other items. He has been awarded the Shilpaguru Award, the National Award and the Culture Award. He is also the head of this colony.
He told IANS, “There are 500 families living in this colony and all are associated with this business.”
Usually preparations for Deepawali start in summer but this time due to the pandemic there have been a lot of problems.
Harkishan said, “I have discussed business with all the people and was told that this time only 25 per cent of the usual business has been transacted. All the people have reduced their work and thankfully so far there has not been a single case of coronavirus in the area.”
He said, “People from Delhi-NCR, Haryana and UP come here to buy earthenware, but they are not coming in large numbers right now. We will benefit greatly by banning Chinese goods, there will be three-fold difference in trade.”
Harkishan said, “We can break China’s back without fighting. This is our undisclosed war against China.”
Every Diwali trade in crores of rupees happens in this market. Some youngsters living here also go to teach this art in art colleges.
Artisans from Haryana, Rajasthan, Bengal and UP come and work here. Thousands of people are associated with the trade, while items made here are also exported.
Kishori Lal, who has been doing this work since the 70s, told IANS, “This time the business is slow. We earn in a season so that we can get through the winter comfortably, but due to the lockdown we had dismal sales this year. The shopkeepers who come to buy all this from us already have old goods with them. That is why they are buying less.”
He added: “This time Diwali inflation will increase further, due to which people will reduce their expenditure a little. We are just praying to God that this time we survive with the least expenditure, because the hope of good business is less.”