Exhibition shows India is changing: Ban Ki-moon’s wife

October 31st, 2008 - 5:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) Ban Soon-taek, wife of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, inaugurated a rural handicrafts exhibition in the capital Friday and said it was proof that change was not limited to Delhi but was spreading across India. Calling the six-day long exhibition at the Chinmaya Centre “a celebration of sustainable and participatory rural development”, Ban Soon-taek said India had progressed a great deal since the 1970s when she had stayed here during her husband’s first diplomatic assignment.

“This wonderful exhibition that I have just inaugurated and viewed tells me that the change is not limited to Delhi alone but is spreading all over the country,” said Ban Soon-taek, who is accompanying the UN secretary general on his visit to India.

“CORD Utsav” has been organised by the Chinmaya Organisation for Rural Development. It showcases the works of over 6,000 people from about 600 odd villages in Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Orissa.

Miniature Kangra paintings by the physically disabled, hand woven shawls and garments by the members of self-help groups, beautiful cane baskets and much more have been displayed at stalls manned by the artists and artisans themselves.

Mukesh Kumar Bharmour, 26, who is deaf and mute, was one of the many physically disabled people who have harnessed tradition as a means of livelihood with CORD’s help.

“I earn Rs.300 a day from making these miniature paintings and supplying them to CORD,” said Bharmour, with a proud smile.

Rekha Kapoor, 26, received vocational training in weaving and sewing from Chinmaya Tapovan Ashram in Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh, where she now runs a shop with 28 other CORD members. Kapoor was elated when Ban Soon-taek complimented her for a white shawl she presented to the latter.

“It feels good to be here and share your tradition with outsiders,” Kapoor said. “We are an organised group that supplies to CORD who further market our work - 14 weave and 14 design.”

CORD has initiated a move combining programmes on women’s empowerment, child and youth programmes, micro credit banking, healthcare, nutrition, natural resource management and self-governance while also focusing on self-empowerment of rural people.

“We have worked for 25 years in silence - now the impact can be gauged, the success of this exhibition would be just one side and the other side of self-empowerment will soon be seen,” said Kshama Metra, national director, CORD.

“Local leaders are emerging and that is the true success story. People want to informed and linked with rural India unlike before. We, through the CORD mission, are changing beneficiaries into workers and further into resource persons,” she emphasised.

Referring to the exhibition as “a reminder to fulfil the promise of the Millennium Development Goals targeted for completion by 2015″, Metra, who was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government, said that holistic awareness on social issues was required.

“People in rural areas are very intelligent and enterprising. They have local wisdom and have so much to offer to the larger development scenario,” she concluded.

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