Machines can never replace what’s done with hands. All this repair work you see, this fine finishing with these tools is handwork, there’s no machine you can place it under and get such results. I’ve been here for 35 years and I don’t think I will leave soon.
//Prem Singh, Manufacturing Material Supplier – Rampur Kalan//
A lot has changed due to machines. Look at this Daab (a piece of metal to hold a rod with sharp ends), it was used to cut an iron bar. One person would hold it over the bar and the other one would hit it with a hammer. Now they have come up with a factory made iron cutter, it hasn’t just replaced this tool, it has turned the task into a one man job. It’s hard to keep up with the change, every time we come up with a signature tool, a factory made electric product replaces it.
I never asked my kids to be a blacksmith, I don’t see any hope in this field. All I can do is, send them to a good school, ask them to study hard, the rest is on them. About value and respect of the work I do, it depends on people. Money has changed everything. People act as if they have bought us for a ten rupee note. There’s no other connection between a customer and an artisan other than that piece of paper. You talk of respect of handmade objects, I once saw a gypsy carrying a ‘chimta’ ( pair of tongs). It was the most beautiful pair I had ever seen, made of copper, arm long, two lion faces, flowers, petals, so much engraved on it. I offered him 3000 rupees, I knew it was less for the work he had done on it. He refused, he had made it for his sisters’ dowry. I knew the work and craft that went into it, that’s what the most of the people don’t understand here.
Another thing I would like to add is that anyone working hard can get successful. No doubt there are issues farmers face these days but the bigger fact is, they don’t know how to manage the money. It’s the ‘show-off’ that pushes them to suicide. I’m a metal dealer, my business is flourishing now but I still use this scooter to transport the material. People suggest me to use a car but I don’t, what will I save then? Who do I need to impress by carrying that car around. People need to be more sensible now.
Story by: Gurdeep Dhaliwal and Navjeet Kaur