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Three decades of promoting handicrafts in Goa

After spending 33 years in the The Goa Handicrafts Rural and Small Scale Industries Development Corporation (GHRSSIDC Ltd), marketing manager John Sebastian retired on August 31. In his tenure he was responsible for implementing various schemes. He talks to NT BUZZ about his experience and all the good times he had in the corporation that was started to assist small scale industries and promote Goan artisans

Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ


When John Sebastian initially joined the Goa Handicrafts Rural and Small Scale Industries Development Corporation (GHRSSIDC Ltd) as an assistant in 1983 the job involved a lot of hard work. The corporation in those years sold steel (main business), seeds, plastic and other raw materials including paraffin wax. The corporation also imported cement and made a lot of profit on it. This money went in developing handicrafts and the corporation to what it is today. “As the corporation was new we worked really hard. We would go to local markets to sell products. We also marketed umbrellas, notebooks and ‘donnes’ (bowls made from dried leaves),” he recalls.

However, John got himself involved in the handicrafts section and over time was given the responsibility of managing and implementing various government schemes, a task he carried out up till his last day in office with the Ganesh idol scheme being his last. John says he has always liked to do more than what his work demanded. “Artisans have always been my priority here. I have done my bit to help, guide and get them some facilities so that their product reaches the market and they are able to fetch a decent sum for it,” he says. He also sent artisans for exhibitions outside Goa and played an important role in conducting training sessions across the states. While there are many artisans who have stuck to their trade and are able to sustain themselves, John feels for the ones who have given up their traditional trade for some other lucrative career.

He says that terracotta, bamboo and needle work artists are the worst affected for various reasons – non availability or high prices of raw materials, younger generations not wanting to continue the trade, cheaper options like machine crochet work or synthetic products that have replaced traditional handmade items flooding markets. “Unlike before, not many ladies are interested in needle work. Many prefer to take up office and other jobs, which provide them with a steady income and security,” he says.

Even three to four days before his last day, John was busy taking stock of the progress made on the Ganesh Idol scheme and pushing for files to be sanctioned. While, it will be challenging to adapt to his new life, he says he will find something or the other to keep himself busy. “I have always tried to keep myself busy. Since I had taken up a course as a tourist guide way back in 1985, I will start guiding tourists,” he shares. John who holds a BA (Honours) in Philosophy from Bombay University would have been a lawyer had he not dropped out of the course after completing a year to join the corporation.

Because he is interested and deeply connected with promoting handicrafts and helping artisans he says he will always be available to those who seek his advice and guidance in the field of handicrafts.

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