Recently an exhibition was held in our town. It was not on a grand scale like International Trade Fairs held in Delhi. Yet, it had its own importance. It was a very modest show, but well represented and well attended.
The district authorities had organized it to encourage the introduction of cottage industries in villages. The deputy commissioner and the local leaders took keen interest and put up a very good show. Never before had we realised that our village possessed such a vast scope for the development of cottage industries. We then realised that a vast heap of wealth was lying unused in villages.
The location of the exhibition was an open maidan near the railway station. A temporary fence was erected on all sides and temporary stalls were built to accommodate exhibits of different articles.
The exhibition lasted for about a week and was attended by thousands of people. Business worth thousands of rupees was transacted in it. The district authorities were pleased with its success.
A number of exhibits were on show. There were agricultural exhibits, which the farmers had displayed. There were vegetables of all kinds and sizes. One farmer had a peculiar turnip. I was surprised to see a plum which resembled a red apple. There was also on show specimens of cereals which attracted attention. There were also remarkable specimen of carrots and radish, sweet potatoes and tomatoes of different tastes and colours.
Pottery specimens were also exhibited. There were pots made by artisans of Rajasthan. There were apples, oranges, tomatoes, almonds, raisins and cardamoms of such fine shapes and colours that one could hardly distinguish them from the real ones. The different shades of colour were so beautifully laid that they deceived even the sharpest eye. They received praise from all and the artist who made them was awarded a gold medal
Textile products manufactured by local weavers also attracted attention. Their delicacy of texture and finesse of finish astonished us beyond any measure. We saw a piece of silk cloth which could beat in shimmer even the finest silk of China or Japan. The Muslim made by a local weaver was so light and fine that it appeared as if it were a relic of the ancient Dacca art.
A blacksmith had put up models of an aeroplane and an anti-aircraft gun which were highly appreciated. A carpenter had displayed a beautiful radio set and a goldsmith a wonderful golden idol of the Buddha in meditation.
The exhibition was a spontaneous success in every way. The local authorities were able to collect Rs. 2, 50,000 on the spot. It was decided that the amount be spent in awarding prizes for the best exhibitors.
One felt that the need for organising such exhibitions in villages and towns was great. Local cottage industries can be given an impetus if such exhibitions are organised from time to time. Local skill is not deficient, and if properly used, can add greatly to the wealth of India.