Politicians Failing Madhubani Artists
PATNA, (IANS) – During every election, leaders of various political parties promise the rejuvenation of industries, handicrafts, and farming in Bihar but they hardly even think of it post-election.
One of the famous handicrafts is Bihar’s Madhubani or Mithila paintings which were extensively discussed by the leaders of every political party during the 2020 assembly election. Nothing after that.
Madhubani or Mithila paintings are recognized in various countries, but the artists associated with this are not more than 10,000. These artists are natives of Darbhanga, Madhubani, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Araria, Purnea, Muzaffarpur, East Champaran and some other districts of North Bihar.
“Gyanwanti Devi, an artist of Madhubani painting and a native of Darbhanga said: “It provides a source of earning but not much. The loan policies of the government are not right, and the interest is also high. As paying instalments would not have been easy for me, I chose not to take a loan and continue the work with whatever capital I have.”
Another artist of Madhubani paintings named Smriti Devi said: “The prices of items needed for painting are increasing all the time. The state government should investigate it and provide subsidies for it. Unfortunately, no one is looking into the core issues we are facing.”
“The process of doing paintings on one bedsheet takes time. For example, one bedsheet and two pillow covers need at least one week. So, we hardly make 4 pieces in one month. We do not have enough money to hire painters on a daily or monthly basis,” said Poonam Kumari, an artist from Simri village in Madhubani’s Bipsi block.
Sailendra Kumar, father of Poonam Kumari, said: “I have taken a loan once but paying the instalments is an issue. Hence, we have not taken any further loan. We used to start production only after getting the orders. Unlike Khadi Gramodyog, we have no such platform to sell our products. Hence we do not manufacture products in advance and stock them.”
Kumar added: “My entire family is associated with it, and we earn money but not much to expand our business. We need state government help in selling our products. Every party makes tall promises during the elections, but they do not even think about addressing our core issues after forming the government.”
Usha Jha, an entrepreneur associated with Madhubani paintings for the last 30 years and who also runs an outlet in Patna called Petal Craft, told IANS: “The market size of Madhubani paintings is big, but the encouragement given to the artists by the government is not enough. The state government is offering funds under the Mukhyamantri Yojana and so does the Centre through a start-up but the process of getting funds is not easy.”
“There are so many documents to be processed to get funding. Hence, a large number of people who want to enter the business or are already associated with it are failing to expand their business because of the lack of funds.”
Jha concluded by saying: “Madhubani paintings have wide acceptance across the country. I came into the field in the early 1990s with the idea to encourage handicraft work and the source of earning for myself as well as those people who are associated with this field.”
“I visited many countries such as Russia, Singapore and Indonesia and people appreciated the paintings. The price of a bedsheet with two pillow covers starts from Rs 1,500 and it goes to Rs 8,000 depending on the quality of the paintings and the cloth,” Jha said.
There’s hope, but the light seems only to be flickering at the far end of the tunnel.