Stealing US First Lady's heart with toys

Wooden wonder

Stealing US First Lady's heart with toys

While the Indo-US bonhomie is reaching its zenith ahead of the Republic Day visit of US President Barack Obama, the Khaleeullah family from the toy town of Channapatna has been brimming with enthusiasm.

Khaleeullah’s wife Bibi Jan, who set up a stall at a fair organised by the National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum (NHHM) in Delhi in 2010, where US First Lady Michelle Obama visited and purchased toys, is expecting another call for gifts from the nondescript Karnataka town.

“We are eagerly waiting to see Obama and his family and hear how they liked the toys purchased from our stall. But chances are remote because we haven’t received any invitation from either the Central government or the US authorities,” said Khaleelullah.

Khaleeullah, a maker of lacquer toys at Channapatna, had been assigned by the Karnataka State Karakushala Abhivraddhi Nigama to set up a stall at the fair organised by the NHHM.

Bibi Jan still remembers how ecstatic Michelle Obama was after viewing the artefacts. “Wow, this train looks awesome,” Michelle had exclaimed, as she picked up a wooden train at the Channapatna stall. Besides the toy train, she had also picked three Ganesha idols and 10 keyrings from Bibi Jan.

Khaleeullah, who is physically challenged, entered the handicraft business after high school. “In the beginning, the business did well and my wife used to help me. Later, I expanded my unit with 10 people. With the slowdown in the business, I reduced the staff strength to five. Now, I have the support of my two children,” he said.

Exports

Exports of handicrafts touched $2.7 billion in 2011-12, and grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 17 per cent during the period 2008-12, Exim Bank sources said. During fiscal 2012-13, India exported handicrafts worth $3.3 billion. It reached $3.8 billion during fiscal 2013-14, they said.

The US and Europe came up with a stipulation that all wooden handicraft items should be sourced from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council of Bonn. This really hampered Indian exports.
DH News Service

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