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Posts Tagged ‘Artisan’

A shoe cobbler I met in Udaipuria

In Udaipuria, a village in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan, sits a shoe cobbler.   His hands, much like his products, are brown and leathery.  He has been making shoes—in his case, ethnic mojaris—for almost 50 years.  Over this time, he has sculpted innumerable shoes, taught innumerable apprentices, and observed innumerable changes in the business.

“When I began making shoes, they were all for kissans, for farmers,” he says, not missing a beat from hammering a new shoe to life.  “That is not what happens anymore.  A few of us still make shoes for farmers, but most work goes to big cities.”

Such has been the case since 1997, when the UNDP (UN Development Program) and RUDA (Rural Non-Farm Development Agency) launched “Operation Mojari.”  Recognizing the potential urban market for Rajasthani shoes, this program was designed to help artisans to thrive well beyond their home villages.  As a result, Rajasthani shoemakers began to see markets and money they never before imagined—that is, until the intervention ended and market forces resumed. (more…)

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