Jagtar Singh, Kirtan musical instruments maker, Amritsar

It's our third generation into making Kirtan related musical instruments. My father Surjan Singh, in whose name the firm stands today, started it in 1940, in 1962 after finishing my metric I joined him and now my son has taken hold of everything.

It’s our third generation into making Kirtan related musical instruments. My father Surjan Singh, in whose name the firm stands today, started it in 1940, in 1962 after finishing my metric I joined him and now my son has taken hold of everything. We can make a harmonium ranging from 4000 – 15,000. Most of what we make is sold outside Punjab. Here people don’t value the good stuff. They want something cheap, that can serve the purpose, nothing more.

For example, we send so many harmoniums to Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. There, families give their girls a harmonium in her dowry. They know how to use it because they are taught from childhood. In Punjab we sell mostly to the training centers, Gurudwaras and schools. Here, it’s opposite of what happens in the foreign. People value machine made object more than a hand made one. ‘You didn’t use any electricity or expensive part, what are you asking money for?’ that’s what we hear from our customers. Effort, precision, all that thinking and time that goes into making a product, doesn’t count here.

Due to the live telecast of Kirtan on TVs, our sale has gone up, but new generation not taking up this profession has sunk the production. Plus, the government isn’t helping at all, instead they have imposed tax on us like all other businesses. They can help us by providing space and funds to set up a small firm, where we can hire young people, train them and think of innovating our product to meet the needs of present.

These electronic instruments have affected us a lot. Take a keyboard for an example, if you buy that, you don’t need any other instrument, it’s got all the sounds. And nobody questions the price. Here we don’t sell like companies, the prices are very low and so are the profits. If we get the help, we can up our game by providing even better stuff, we can think of innovating our products but right now, all we are concerned about is, enough savings to live a decent life.

Story by: Gurdeep Dhaliwal

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