Rampur (Uttar Pradesh) [India], Apr 21 (ANI): Amidst the battle of nerves between Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan and BJP candidate Jaya Prada in the Rampur parliamentary constituency in western Uttar Pradesh, Zardozi workers in the town are struggling to make their ends meet and want the government to extend a helping hand to save the traditional craft from ending abruptly.
Rampur is famous across the world for one of the oldest forms of hand embroidery, Zardozi. In Persian, Zarin means 'gold' and Dozi signifies 'embroidery'. An imperial craft, it involves making appealing designs with precious gems and stones like diamond, pearls, and emeralds. These gems are sown into the fabric to give a royal look to a garment.
The use of zari embroidery as ornamentation on the attire of Hindu deities is mentioned in Rig Veda. The craft started seeing a rough phase in the 17th century owing to the high cost of raw material as it was not easy for the craftsmen to procure the materials easily. However, zardozi workers somehow survived after India gained independence and government put efforts to save and promote the traditional art.
"I am working in this industry for 30 years. We never faced any difficulty so far but now our condition is getting pathetic. We are not able to earn Rs 100 to Rs 200 per day. As workers are not educated they do not know about Good and Services Tax (GST) due to which it is difficult for us to survive. People are not happy in this work and their interests are shifting towards unskilled jobs," zardozi worker Umaid Khan told ANI.
Hundreds of workers known for their unmatched skills are driving e-rickshaws as growing technology and machines have almost killed this art.
"People are even riding rickshaws to earn more. We hope a new government come to power and it works for us. We went to several government officers to seek help but no one was willing to help us. They all are selfish and want to fulfil their own interest first. When Jaya Prada was in the SP, she said that she will bring more projects and help us with buying of materials. Sadly, she also made hollow promises," Umaid said.
"We have to vote as it is our right. But our votes cannot bring any change in our lives as no one listens to us," he asserted.
On being asked if they feel that government is ignoring zardozi workers as more Muslim population is indulged in this occupation in comparison to Hindus, Umaid said, "There is no difference between Hindu and Muslim as we all live peacefully here and support each other in their difficult times. It is politicians who have divided the society in the name of Hindu and Muslims."
Yasim, who rides a rickshaw now, said: "I was earning well while working as Zardozi worker. But since last few years it was hard for me to meet basic needs of my family so I am running a rickshaw now and thankfully, I am able to earn pretty good than I did as a zardozi worker."
The elections in Uttar Pradesh are being held in all seven phases for 80 Lok Sabha seats at stake. The counting of votes will take place on May 23. (ANI)