Jun 5, 2015

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Children Interact with Potters Community in Makarba Village, Ahmedabad

By Nirali Kansara


When we reached the small village of Makarba, which hosted a humble 5-6 families who were involved in pottery since the past few generations, the first thing that caught our eyes was the numerous red painted pots stacked in rows, each shining brightly due to the reflection of the sun.
We had 6 children with us- Gungun, Ahmed, Sanjay, Sameer, Khush and Shubh. On asking them what they will do there, Ahmed told about his experiences of his field visit in Delhi which led to his brilliant yet simple idea of efficient dustbins.

On interacting with one of the potter family, the head of the family told us that they make around 100 pots a day, selling each for around 50-60 rupees. On asking why don’t they directly sell it to the market and earn more profit, he replied, “Itne paise nahi hai, 2 lakh ki moodi chahiye. (Don’t have the necessary investment, need 2 lakhs for that).” On inquiring about the kids, he replied that they do go to school, but then after the age of 15, they are made to learn pottery. It takes them at least 6 months to learn pottery. He had a very pessimistic approach towards sending children to college, saying that they anyways won’t get a job and someone has to continue the family business.

He showed us the Bhatti in which they baked the pots, and told us that they light the Bhatti having a capacity of 700 pots with fire using wood, and wait for it to cool overnight. Any broken pots are later used to make base for unbaked pots. This Bhatti can be used for a year, and after that they have to rebuild it. But there were lots of pieces of broken pots scattered around.

Next we went to a village a few kilometres away from Makarba, in Fatehwadi. Here we first stopped near a house where they made different types of flower pots and little lamps. The first sight that greeted us was a woman cleaning the mud they wish to use for making pots using her feet. Another person then separates the dirt from the clay using a filter. Then they use that clay. On inquiring, the woman told us that this rigorous exercise strained her body, and the mud also contained stones, sticks, thorns and pieces of glass, which more often than not hurt her feet. This is one serious problem I felt. Maybe she could wear rubber boots or something that protects her feet well while cleaning the mud. There was another person working on an automated wheel, making little ‘diyas’. He showed us how to make different flower pots and ‘gullakhs’. They sold each diya at a price of 50 paise and the price of the pots ranged from 20 rupees to 60 rupees.




A little distance ahead, we came across a place where they were mass manufacturing different types of diyas of different designs. They used machines to produce them, each machine costing around Rs 30,000. Women were working on those machines, and they could produce on an average 1000 pieces a day, and they would sell the lot at a price of Rs 1500 to a wholesaler. The clay they used differs from the ones used by the traditional potters; it’s a bit harder so that the diyas don’t break easily. The price of each diya varied from 80 paise to 1.5 rupees.




A little bit ahead was another family of potters, where they used POP structure to mould the clay. Also, they used a machine to shape the clay being moulded in the POP structure. The machine would reduce their effort enormously, but the blade kind of structure which gave the shape could harm their hands if used a bit carelessly




We went to a street in Vejalpur area, where people lived in small localities in even smaller houses. There was big pit dug in the middle of road, and huge piles of sand around. On asking around, they told us that there was construction going on to build a water tanker to solve the existing water problem. We interacted with a lady, Bilkus Baru and her daughter, Tabasum. They told us that they had no connection of water in their houses, they had to get water though hand pumps; which was the case for around 10-12 houses in their locality. No one has yet complained to the municipality about it. Also, the construction is a source of everyday disturbance. It has been going on since the past 2-3 years, and they had been promised that it would be completed before the monsoon season starts; but from the looks of it, it seemed difficult.

On talking to a bunch of kids playing around, they told us that they had problem in playing because of the constant construction. Children would go and play in the pit, and it could be dangerous as they could seriously hurt themselves among bricks and stones. Also, on talking with another bunch of children, they told us that they would rather prefer to have a school in place of the playground that currently existed near their locality. Their school is a bit far, and they have to walk a long way. They also told us that the contractor of the tank building construction told that the water which they would get from the tank would be taken from the gutter nearby. This could be a very serious problem as it is a potential health hazard.

We also saw workers making 100 meter long thick ropes. They would pull the rope with their hands to tie the knots together, which could damage their hands. On asking one of the workers, he said,” Kuchh nahi hota. Aadat pad gayi hai. (It’s nothing now. We are used to it.)” We could provide them with gloves that could protect their hands from damaging, but at the same time not reducing the desired friction between the rope and hand.







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