Today, I extend my heartfelt greetings to the tribal brothers on the auspicious occasion of Adi Mahotsav. Tribals are very dear, heartwarming people of Bharat Mata. Adivasi brothers and sisters have favored the life of our country with their melodious and joyful music, joy of pleasure, unique handicrafts.
This festival will prove very useful to introduce this wonderful cultural heritage to all over India and the world. Another advantage through this festival can be that the objects and artifacts you make will have an opportunity to sell them and you will also be able to get financial benefits. Your efficiency will be rewarded in the form of economic prosperity.
I hope that all of you will be able to take full advantage of this opportunity. I urge you to continue the effort that way so far you have preserved your cultural heritage. This is an invaluable heritage. It is very important to promote, disseminate and increase it. In this endeavor, the government is supporting and will give tribute to artistic creative enthusiasm, giving special attention to it.
The tribes constitute over 8% of the country’s population. This is a very significant number. In real terms it corresponds to over 10 crore Indians. The national object of inclusive development (Sabka Vikas) includes the development of tribes as an important component. Our constitution enjoins upon the Government the responsibility of addressing the special needs of the tribals.
The Government has always treated the tribes with a special concern. However, there are unique challenges in the field of tribal development. This is because the tribes must be drawn to the mainstream, but at the same time it is important to ensure that their culture remains intact.
The attitude of urban mainstream towards the tribes is often characterized by a belief that we have a lot to teach the tribes to help them to develop. What we generally tend to forget is that in fact the tribes have a lot to teach urban India. When we deal with the tribes, we must always keep an open mind. We must maintain our humility.
What is special about the tribes? As the name of this event suggests, it is the ‘adi’ factor that is important about them. Adivasis are the aboriginals. Their way of life is guided by primal truths, eternal values and a natural simplicity. The greatness of the tribes lies in this that they have managed to retain the primal skills and their natural simplicity. Their creations have a timeless appeal. The crudest tribal handicraft instantly touches a chord in all of us. This is also particularly true of tribal music and dance.
The tribes of India have a wide range of handicrafts. These include hand-woven cotton, wool and silk fabrics, woodcrafts, metal craft, terracotta, bead-work, masques and other objects. They also produce compelling paintings.
Government has rightly recognized the need to channel the artistic talents towards income generation. It is for this reason that the Government seeks to promote interaction between the tribal artisans and the mainstream designers from reputed design organizations. The idea is to expand the product range and designs. The synergy between these two can generate marketable products of art and handicraft for the top-end global market.
Single items of bell-metal produced by the late Jaideo Baghel of Kondagaon in Bastar sold for as much as five lacs of rupees! This only points to the fact that on the one hand there are skills in the tribal pockets of India, and on the other hand there is high-end demand in our cities and in the international market.
The need is to put two and two together for a win-win result. Events such as this Adimahotsav are very important in this regard. The Government has formed the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (Trifed) for achieving this.
I am happy that Trifed is doing significant work in this direction and have now embraced e-commerce and digital platforms to take the business forward.
Apart from handicrafts, the tribes gather from the forests a range of forest produces. These include various tree-borne products like flowers, fruits, seeds, barks and leaves; and various insect produces like honey. All these are completely organic products.
We know that organic food products command a premium price. Trifed must tap this premium market which is a niche market. And, more importantly, Trifed must ensure that the benefit of higher prices accrues to the tribal. I understand that the scheme of minimum support price for forest produces has been expanded to cover all states and twenty four key products. The scheme now needs to be implemented in full earnestness.
I congratulate the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and TRIFED organizers of this Adimahotsav. I invite the tribal artisans gathered here to make the best use of this opportunity to forge links with other artisans and market drivers. I am happy to see the enthusiasm here and the colourful festive atmosphere. I hope in the times to come we will see more of such events.