Amar Kutir was founded as a place of refuge for political prisoners of who were then released from jail. Susen Mukhopadhyay, a young revolutionary freedom fighter, was inspired by Tagore’s newly initiated rural reconstruction plan that was being carried out in Sriniketan. With the help Aswani Kumar Sarkar who had connection with the local Landlord, he purchased 100 acres of land as a place to develop his vision. He was also influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and combined the ideas of these two legendry figures to build a commune that pursued such activities as block printing, hand loom weaving, and leather work.
Gradually, Amar Kutir became a vibrant meeting place for organizing the peasant’s movement which sought freedom and equality. By 1938 as momentum built, the British Government declared Amar Kutir as an illegal organization because of its socialist ideals threatened the existing order and power that was in place. As an added measure, Susen
Mukhopadhyay was arrested and incarcerated.
Despite these setbacks, the revolution was underway and the nation pulsed with stirring of a freedom movment. In prison, Mukhopadhyay encountered notable political activities, such as Moni Ganguly and Pannalal Das Gupta. Both relocated to Amar Kutir after they were released, as did many other comrades, which led to the formation of a night school entitled Ruppur Samya Sadan. This school provided an impetus that shaped the peasant’s movment and attracted the attention of Netagi Subhas Chandra Bose, who was impressed by the organization’s ideals, and the sense of dedication unity among its members.
On August 29, 1942, the activities at Amar Kutir led a large group of demonstrators armed with bows and arrows who stormed the railway station and other government offices. The army attempted to disperse the protesters, and in the process, two people were shot dead. This event served as a catalyst for the Indian Independence Movement.
Following Indian Independence, Amar Kutir’s main objective has been the reorganization and rejuvenation of cottage and rural industries in handicrafts that followed the self-help philosophy outlined by the Rabindranath Tagore. Mukhopadhyay recruited the first batch of trainees in artistic leather crafts of Silps Sadan and launched commercial production for the market at Shyambazar Works in Kolkata. Even today, these leather products lead the industry in design and reputation. The present Amar Kutir Society for Rural Development was registered in 1978 by Pannalal Dasgupta, the noted freedom fighter and social activist to establish a self-supported non-government organization based on Tagore’s vision of “Rural Organisation for Rural Reconstruction”.
CURRENT ACTIVITIES :
The crafts Development Centre was introducing in 1992, which expanded Amar Kuti’s scope to include Lac-ware, cane and bamboo, woodwork, terra cotta, dokra, sola pith, batik, and kantha stich. The impact was rapidly felt as skills are now continuously upgraded, which lead to design development and extend market opportunities. Self-help group for crafts production in leather, kantha stich, and batik were organized involving 450 additional craftspersons under the AHVY programme, further increasing its capacity for production and sales.
Amarkutir is committed to encouraging craftsperson’s in the local area upgrade their skill by organizing training programme. Design development and marketing are stressed to enhance the economic capacity of its members. The society enhance markets its own products as well as acts as a means of dissemination and commercial display of quality objects brought in by freelance/individual craftspeople throughout the region. Thus, indirectly, the organization accommodates more than 1300 craftspeople besides regularly employing a crew of 84 permanent workers.
In addition, Amar Kutir Society funds from its own profits for programs in health, education, and the environment in order to strengthen the society in a holistic way. Two areas of interest for expansion include forestation and establishing medical clinics.
Tagore & Indian Perspective :
Rabindranath Tagore promoted self-sustainability in rural development. He envisioned a co-operative society steeped in sustainable agriculture, horticulture, and animal husbandry along with rural artisan’s handicrafts. Amar Kutir seek to promoter and expand this vision.
Currently, Amar Kutir’s primary objectives are to promote self-help groups, develop thrift savings and link microfinance to handicrafts development, and to enhance self-help employment opportunities in order to alleviate poverty. Self-help groups were created in India in order to combat poverty by making credit accessible to people struggling with poverty. Based on the principles of community, empowerment, and democracy, this scheme puts the rural person’s quality of life into his/her hands. A minimum of 10 craftsperson predominantly rural women, comprise the self-help group, were each member contributes monthly dues, which are accumulated and can be used for loans to an individual in the group or to provide insurance.