Hyderabad is an important city of India as it is endowed with many historical places, mouth-watering dishes including veg and non-veg biryani, different types of fruits and vegetables, ornamental items (pearl and related items), famous for medical tourism, etc. Hyderabad is also a city of national integration and above caste, creed, and religion all live amicably. As an example, a legendary figure may be mentioned here as known to all that Sarojini Naidu being a Bengali lady was born in Chattopadhyay/Chatterjee family in 1879 in Hyderabad and married to a Telugu man, Dr. Govindarajulu Naidu and finally settled down in Hyderabad. Her parental home was in undivided Bengal.
In this section, a case of national integration promoted by the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (popularly known as NIRD&PR), an autonomous organization of the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India is presented. The NIRD&PR, apart from its academic activities, has been organizing Mela every year from 2003 where across India, rural artisans mainly self-help group (SHG) members participate with their products for scaling up of selling.
In 2019, 17th Mela held from 29 November to 3 December 2019 was inaugurated by the Governor of Telangana, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan on 29 November 2019. As reported by Mr Md. Khan, Sr. Consultant of RTP-NIRD&PR, in the Mela mainly women members of Self Help Groups (SHG) from 24 states across the country including Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Sikkim, J&K participated. The participation of so many states from north-east in other years of the Mela was seldom. Further, around 200 stalls were set up covering various items like veg and non-veg foods, dress materials for ladies, gents and children, different types of ornamental items, etc.
The author interacted during the time of Mela with few members who came with their products from different parts of the country. And all in unison appreciated stay, food, etc. which were provided free of cost to the guests by the NIRD&PR. Of course, travel costs had to be borne by the respective state or organisation or by the SHG may be from their corpus fund.
While interacting, Mrs Ronita, a member of Laxmi SHG, from Imphal East district of Manipur observed she (also her woman friend) was absolutely happy as for the Mela both of them could visit Hyderabad. She informed that albeit their SHG was established in January 2018 but earlier did not visit Hyderabad. Their travel cost was borne by the district officials. They brought a special variety of black rice, different types of pickles, fruit candies, etc. Both have enjoyed Hyderabad as a huge city with peaceful environment. Mrs Kamal Kumari Jamatia of Tripura, a member of Golap SHG (10 women members in SHG and all ST) also expressed her happiness as first time she attended the Mela. She brought different types of ladies dresses made by tribal women, craft and bamboo products etc. From Sikkim, two women came first time came in Hyderabad with local products such as ginger powder, raw turmeric, and other local food products. Also from Haryana two women participated as well as their first visit in Hyderabad. They brought and made in the stall different types of food items and I tasted their delicious ‘laddus’. From West Bengal of Birbhum district, two women with different types of Sarees first time attended the Mela. Also near Darjeeling area of West Bengal few Lepcha women members came who were well versed with ‘Momo’ preparation. On the spot, they prepared tasty ‘Momo’ and such taste may not be found in other restaurants. Mrs. Shalini of Kerala also expressed her happiness after participating first time in the Mela. She along with her husband participated Mela with a different types of clay items used in cooking. Although the SHG was established in 2003 with 16 women members this was their first visit.
It is evident that Mela is an important place of marketing of SHGs’ products. It acts as an important forward linkage as sellers can bring their products from far-flung areas and buyers can get within their area with reasonable price and thus both are benefitted. Further, Mela has been promoting national integration. In view of this, it is suggested that such Mela should be organised across the country more in numbers. NIRD&PR can organise two times in a year.