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A Potter’s conversation with the Prime Minister

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Born into a poor family in Nizamabad, far removed from an idyllic existence, life had always been hard for Baijnath Prajapati, at least up until recently. He is the fourth child of Shri Ramjiyavan Prajapati, who hails from the Hussainabad hamlet of the Nizamabad tehsil in the Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh. The family had traditionally engaged in pottery making through generations. Despite multiple social and economic handicaps, Baijnath, now 42 years old, persisted with education and cleared Bachelor’s degree in economics.

In order to make a living he did backbreaking and odd jobs in Nizamabad and later in Mumbai. Subsequently, he decided to capitalize on his education and taught computers in a local institute and also did private tuitions. His hard work endeared him to the locals in Nizamabad and people have now come to address him as ‘Masterji’, a respectful moniker. He had gained enough confidence to open his own institute where he taught computers and also engaged in forex business.

However, he incurred huge losses in 2016 when Demonetization was introduced. It was like back to square one. He didn’t lose heart however and decided this time to try his luck in pottery making, his traditional family occupation.

Even though as a child he didn’t show much interest in family business, just being in the family had introduced him to the nitty-gritties involved in pottery making. So he was not a novice actually. He started small but due to his hard work and a bit of luck too, he was soon inundated with job orders. He had more work than he could provide to his customers.

During our conversation with Baijnath, he informed that practically all households at Nizamabad earn their living only by making black pottery. The craft originated from Kutch region of Gujarat state. These potters had actually migrated to Nizamabad during the reign of Aurangzeb. The unique feature of this craft is the silver patterns carved over the black potteries.

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