The largest salt desert in the world. Vast tracts of shimmering white sands, stunning but stark. To someone who has never been there, Rann of Kutch, thus described, might conjure up intimidating images. But the truth is that these salty marshlands of Gujarat are considered to be one of the most diverse habitats in the sub-continent—both ecologically and ethnically. Flanked by the sea on one side and the deserts on the other it sustains a hugely varied range of plants and animals. The same is true of the communities living in Kutch land.
From fisherfolks to herdsmen and farmers, each has its distinctive identity and culture. And together they create a magnificent mosaic of visuals–vivid and alive.
Rann Utsav (festival), a three month long mega event organized by the Gujarat government every year, captures this diversity in all its glory. The art and crafts of the region are on display, while the desert terrain resonates with folk music. The Utsav attracts tourists from across the world, turning it into one of the state tourism department’s top most revenue earners.
As a trusted, long standing partner in development projects, the Coastal Gujarat Private Limited (CGPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power Company, supports the Gujarat government in promoting and organising this mammoth show. This support, however, is not limited to financial sponsorships alone. It envisages a far deeper level of engagement. It involves helping the government to maintain a stable and healthy socio-economic order, instances of which can then be showcased on the Utsav platform.
Based in the Kutch region of Gujarat, the CGPL project is spread over 6 catchment villages. Tunda-Vandh, Mota Kandagra of Mundra; Nanabhadia, Tragadi and Modva of Mandvi Taluka of Kutch. Its activities have now been extended to the entire block. From supplying fodder for the cattle to installing solar lights in fishing boats. From setting up schools at the remotest corners of Kutch to establishing community RO plants in all the severely water stressed villages, CGPL has a presence in all aspects of life of an average resident villager.
And its attention is not limited to basic essentials only. One of CGPL’s chosen areas is local art and craft.
As always, CGPL has partnered with an expert. Kalaraksha Trust, a grass root level social enterprise, is committed to the task of preserving traditional art forms in the area by training and promoting local artisans. At the end of a year-long training programme, an exhibition and a fair are organised for the artisans of Kalaraksha which are sponsored by CGPL. The aim of the fair is to introduce the locals to new design principles and provide artisans more product options, thereby making the output market-oriented. A few artisans have already been noticed at the global arena.
Lakhabhai Rabari, a kalaraksha employee explained why she feels this a ‘precious opportunity’, “The fair promotes local artisans. The criteria for enrollment in the programme are that the student should be from the regional and he/she should be a traditional artisan. Through this intervention, the artisan have enhanced their skills and competencies related to the craft and deal with the market place much more confidently. Women are now aware and have become vocal and this program has provided an outlet for their creativity. Sponsorship support is provided to local artisans, teachers and students are sent to international fairs all over the world. Thanks to the support extended by CGPL in preserving the local art and furthering our mission. CGPL has always been a great support in our mission and interventions.”
None can express the grandeur and brilliance of a region more eloquently than a population which is progressive and productive. CGPL is in the business of ensuring that the district of Kutch never lacks on that front.