Dastkar – A Women’s Self-Help Initiative Since 1989

Dastkar – A Women’s Self-Help Initiative Since 1989

On the way towards Ranthambhore National Park, I saw a display board: Dastkar – A women’s self-help initiative since 1989. The wish was to visit and a day when I along with Gopal Ji – a local on the way via local bus.

Dastkar is situated at Kutalpura Maliyan Village (close to Ranthambhore National Park).

Dastkar is on the way towards Sher Bagh and Aman-i-Khás. One can reach via hired taxi, bus, auto, or jeep directly from Sawai Madhopur Railway Station or Ranthambhore Chowk, or Ranthambhore Road. Bus and Jeep charge Rs. 10 per person. Auto charges – Sawai Madhopur railway station till Dastkar Rs. 150 approx.

Morning hours when we reached a few women working busy with patchwork and a young guy at reception. Namaste – said I. A request to enhance our knowledge but first your good name?

Ganga Ram Mali

And another question: How many days in a week Dastkar is open and from when to when.

Sunday and National Holidays – working are closed. Other than that it is open for the display of products as well as sales including Sundays.

Opening & Closing Hours?

9 am – 6 pm

Thank you – said I. And talks about how the actual organization started. When and where and by whom?

In the year 1989 Laila Tyabji from Delhi along with six women started this initiative in a small village – Sherpur where mostly patchwork and cushion cover was the project’s traditional products. After four years a camp was organized at Kutalpura Maliyan Village and later more traditional products and more employees.

Currently at Dastkar, Sawai Madhopur there are more than 150 employees mostly women from nearby villages.

In the year 2004, Dastkar became an organization.

And a walk inside the shop. Ganga Ram enhances knowledge about various products made traditionally such as Potli to carry mobile, Bags, Cushion-Cover, Belt, Bed-Sheet, Tablecloth, Napkin, Black-Pottery, Ladies’ Sleepers made with tractor tyres, Uni-sex Jackets, Kurta, Gents Shirts, T-shirt, Night Dress, Lehenga and the most important: Handmade. Yes, all are handmade. Even if cloth waste is there it is recycled to make toys, key chains, and hair clips. Nothing is wastage even water is recycled.

Bleaching, Dye, Cutting, Indigo Block Printing, Vegetable Colors, Stitching, and Ironing all are part of the product-making process. Stitching is done only by Women employees. One can find traditional products available for one year kid till an aged person.

Dastkar is currently within nineteen Indian States making different-different products traditional way. Altogether there are 352 branches of Dastkar all over India.

Sales are made at shop locations or via exhibitions organized by various associations within India such as Kala Ghoda, Mumbai, and Yes, export is also done.

A display board talks about women’s independence, traditional crafts, why one should buy, organization benefits, and case studies.

After visiting Dastkar, watching them set up, and reading the display I have to say: One should visit and not only visit only should buy the traditionally made products if possible. I purchased a wall-hanging colorful calendar with a story written & illustrated by Premola Ghose.

Dastkar takes care of women as well as the environment as they provide carry bags with the message: Say no to plastic bags. And another display: Tiger Nation. Are you on tour?

Yes, I was on tour and regarding the Souvenir of Ranthambhore, I also remember the visit to the souvenir shop situated inside Hotel Vinayak. Today as I was opening the cover of a packed T-shirt I read an important message from the company – Part of the sale proceeds is donated for conservation. There were paintings, coffee mugs, a pen stand, bone china plates, a T-Shirt, etc. with wildlife imprints for display. I was interested in wildlife paintings drawn by the local artist but as they were costly as per the tour budget I selected T-Shirt as a souvenir. Rs. 350 – The cost. Maybe someday I will buy a painting but I like the T-Shirt with the Tiger imprint. Spreading the message of conservation – I agree and remembering the Ranthambhore tour.


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