Despite the availability of Panchavrutthi scheme the artisans take loans from private banks for expanding their businesses.
BENGALURU: Sculptors say they receive no support from the government for meeting their health expenses.
Ganesh, a stone sculptor in Devagere, said, “The amount I receive from the government and the amount I get from customers is sufficient only for buying the required materials. But while working, we hurt ourselves. Apart from buying the materials, we also have extra medical expenses.”
The Karnataka government’s Panchavrutthi scheme includes occupations like gold and silver workers, sculptors, blacksmiths, woodwork and handicraft artisans, and metallurgy. This scheme is benefitting only a few artisans. Most blacksmiths and sculptors do not receive the benefits and find it difficult to manage their businesses.
“We are trying our best in selecting the candidates to provide loan benefits. Most of the artisans are covered under this scheme. But a few are not aware of the scheme,” said an official from the Karnataka Department of Vishwakarma Communities Development Corporation Limited.
Nagabushan M, another stone sculptor in Devagere, said, “I purchased all the tools and machinery required from my pocket, and did not receive any support from the government.” Nagabushan has been working as a stone sculptor for 10 years and earns at least Rs. 30,000 per month. “Apart from stone expenses, I need to pay the workers, at Rs. 1200 per day for each worker.”
The Panchavrutthi scheme was introduced by the Karnataka government in 2014 to help artisans purchase modern tools and upgrade their skills. Traditional artisans are provided with financial assistance by sanctioning loans of Rs.1,00,000 of which Rs.80,000 is provided as a loan at the rate of four percent per annum, and Rs.20,000 as a subsidy. This loan is repayable in 34 equal installments with two months’ grace period of three years.
The major issue for an artisan is health. “At the time of working the sharp tools may hurt our neck and hands. However, we are used to the dust exposure while working,” said Ganesh. “We cannot afford the technology available in the market, as the money we earn is just enough for business and our families.”
“The usage of technology in such arts can cut down the amount of work and expenses for the artisans,” said Satyanarayana Ambati, Assistant Professor of Applied Arts at Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University. “The usage of technology comes with the change of mindsets of the people. Most of the traditional artisans do not use the technology,” he said.
Traditional art Vs Digital art
“Providing training to the traditional artists on various technologies used in digital sculpting can reduce the expenses and health issues,” said Prof. Satyanarayana. Drawing the structures using 3-D technology and then using machines to produce the structure is the current technology.
According to Sybaris, a college for digital art and sculpture, “Traditional sculpting uses a variety of tools, depending on the medium used, surface texture desired, and size of final work. Some involve the manipulation of the existing material, while others are used to add or remove materials. Digital sculpting uses digital tools called brushes. Digital art tools appear as applications, and come equipped with a variety of brushes and other tools.”
According to the Professor, workshops and trainings need to be conducted by the government to increase the usage of technology in the traditional arts. “Such technology benefits the artisans. But the skill of the artisans like cutting and detailing cannot be shown through the digital art,” the Professor said.
According to the data from the Karnataka Department of Vishwakarma Communities Development Corporation Limited, in 2019-20, the government’s target was to provide benefits for 915 members while the government selected 1635 members for the loan benefits. However, data on the number of applications received was not mentioned. Also, later on, due to COVID-19 and delayed funds, the government could not reach the target which led to a decline in the number of beneficiaries.
The artisans must submit an online application to avail of the benefits. Once the applications are received by the Chief Executive Officer of the district then the committee of officials selects the applicants accordingly.
“Due to COVID-19, we did not receive funds on time, which meant a smaller number of applications and beneficiaries,” said the official.
The official also added that the government is working on providing schemes for the health benefits of the artisans in the coming financial years.