Chamba is one of the historical and beautiful city of Western Himalayas. The place has been a cradle of artistic creations. The world famous Chamba chappal is unique for its artistic details and beauty. The art of Chamba chappal which started almost 1000 years ago was patronized by the Rulers of Chamba dynasty. Chamba chappals were worn by the royalty only. When the British came they made chamba chappal available to the common men. The Chamba chappals are made by a select community of artisans. The indigenous art is rich in details and originality. Although the Chamba chappal is world famous for its originality but the present condition of artisans in not good.They are forced to live a life of poverty and uncertainity. Unfortunately neither the government nor any local level agency could do anything for the upliftment of the lives of artisans. The artisans belong to the one of the downtrodden community of the Indian society so they have to face many challenges in their everyday lives. The complete neglect of their condition by the government and shortage of livelihood opportunities further aggravated their problems.
The earning period of chappal makers is limited to only three months of Manimahesh yatra when the tourist and devotees visit Chamba and Manimahesh. Surprisingly for the rest of the year they are not able to sell any pair of chappal. Besides that the chappal maker is buying leather from Chennai at individual level which creates undue pressure on the artisan. The artisans are also engaged in negative competition with each other thereby hampering the creation of a positive competition environment which can help all the artisans.
CEVA( Collective Effort for Voluntary Actions) is trying its best to make artisans aware about the new business practices, by providing capacity building exercises, financial literacy and creating a positive environment among artisans about each other and the individuality of their products.
The creation of Chamba Chappal Cooperative society limited, Jhangi , Chamba under the supervision of CEVA( Collective Effort for Voluntary Actions )NGO has brought all the artisans together by providing them a common platform which was hitherto missing from their lives thereby providing them a platform to discuss their problems and coming with new ideas which can help them all throughout year. CEVA is trying to link a company directly to the artisans cooperative society so that they can sell their products throughout the year thereby creating a source of regular income for them all. CEVA is also helping the artisans’ society in building brand identity and promoting their products at its level.
Although it’s a new journey for the artisans with CEVA but one can say for sure that soon they will be self sufficient and free from the dark period of uncertainity and poverty of their lives.