Every craft group needs a versatile, well-read, passionate community mobiliser, one of their own, who can get everybody under one roof. Someone who understands that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
63 year old, Kishore Karde, commonly addressed as 'Dada' is that kind of person for the Tambat community.
Dada worked in the manufacturing industry in Pune for nearly forty years. He would come back home after work, go to his father's workshop, and lend a hand to his elderly father with all the laborious stages of making a copper object. The Kardes specialised in the making of handas and tapeles (water bearers).
It is interesting to remark here that every Tambat family specialised in 'a' particular kind of object. This came about from the traditional system of handing down hereditary tools and know-how to the next generation in the family. And it just so happens that it was also a way to ensure equal distribution of work load and wealth creation. A norm that still exists in some form even today.
In parallel to his professional life, Dada has been committed to the betterment of the Tambat people in many ways. He was the head of the Twashta Kansar Sanstha (Tambat Cooperative) for about 10 years. He was instrumental in setting up the Trust 'Tambat Handicrafts and is also part of the Management Committee of a Credit Cooperative Society. It isn't surprising that he is a great orator and his speeches inspire craftspeople.
An avid reader and lover of books, Dada revived the 100-year-old community library that had been shut for over 50 years. He took charge of it, revived it, sought funding and has been tending to it since 1977. Today, it has about 2,000 members and over 40,000 books.
Over the last five years after his retirement, he has been partnering with INTACH Pune and architect & designer Rashmi Ranade's efforts in community mobilisation, craft documentation, design and market interventions for Tambat craft. His understanding of the mindset of the craftspeople and the community's requirements have rendered valuable insights.
In the past year, since Coppre launched, Dada does some craft-related work himself, like polishing and finishing, but his main forte is in managing the flow in the production lifecycle at the craftspeople's end. The craftspeople are willing, but yet to grasp the market dynamics, discerning eye for quality and finesse, and on-time delivery of orders.
Dada believes that the younger generation will take up the reins of the craft if it is lucrative and interesting enough. He says, with the Coppre project, people are getting more interested. He has plans of bringing about an apprenticeship program to equip young people with the knowledge of the craft.
He hopes to bring back the capital that has gone into the traders' hands, back to the craftspeople.