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Varanasi’s wooden toy industry thrives with over Rs 40 crore annual turnover, Padma Shri awardee highlights significance

Varanasi’s ancient wooden toy industry, once on the brink of collapse, is now witnessing a remarkable revival with an annual turnover of around Rs 45 crore. This thriving industry is not only providing employment opportunities for thousands of artisans, but also enriching homes worldwide with its exquisitely crafted toys and decorative items.

Padma Shri awardee Godavari Singh, a renowned craftsman, highlighted the deep historical roots of the wooden toy industry in Varanasi, tracing its origins back thousands of years. “This industry is a major source of employment for thousands of artisans,” Singh said.

Singh credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention and initiatives like the One District One Product (ODOP) scheme for the industry’s continuous growth. The wooden toy industry comprises three main types of work: wood carving, sculpture, and general woodwork.

With increased publicity and online sales, the business has witnessed a significant boost, with exports reaching markets in Canada, France, America, and Japan. “Nearly thousands of people are involved in it,” Singh said, adding that the industry’s annual turnover is approximately Rs 40 crore.

However, Singh also highlighted the need for government support in securing a consistent supply of wood and equitable electricity rates similar to those provided to weavers. “The government has worked to promote Vocal for Local and for this, they are giving Mudra loans, they are giving ODOP, people have got a shop at the railway station. Our demand is for wood, if we get the wood If we get it in the right way and if electricity is given to us at the same rate which is given to the weavers, then it will be easy for us to expand our business,” he said.

Krishna Gupta, a young businessman in the wooden toy sector, acknowledged the ancient origins of the trade and the changes it has undergone over time. He credited the GI tag obtained through Modi’s initiative for boosting the industry’s profile.

“We do the business of wooden toys. This has been going on since ancient times. Many items were made in it. There have been changes in it over time. Children’s toys and other items are available all over the world. Propaganda happened after the Modi ji initiative, this business got a GI tag,” Gupta said.

Gupta highlighted the positive impact of the Modi government on their business, emphasizing the importance of the domestic market. However, he also expressed concerns about challenges posed by middlemen and the lack of facilities like electricity concessions provided to weavers.

In Kashmiri Ganj, Varanasi, thousands of craftsmen are engaged in making wooden toys, sculptures, and decorative items, highly valued both locally and internationally. The industry’s revival is partly due to the Modi government’s initiatives, such as the GI tag and the promotion of the online ODOP market.

To sustain and expand the industry, local businessmen urge the government to provide electricity at the same rate as weavers, ensure the availability of mill and eucalyptus saplings, and address health concerns related to wood dust exposure. Addressing these basic needs could further enhance the growth and heritage of Varanasi’s wooden toy industry.

(Inputs from ANI)

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