Padma Shri Laila Tyabji justifies every role she’s playing in her real life – a social worker, a craft revivalist, an art designer or being the founder of ‘Dastkar’ (a Delhi-based NGO) working for the revival of traditional crafts in India. She was honoured by the Govt. of India in 2012 with the fourth–highest Indian civilian award – Padma Shri, for her immense contribution in the art and crafts industry. The credit to revolutionize the craft industry in India also goes to Tyabji as she has been helping in developing a market for Indian crafts, modernizing the artisans’ skills, and acting as the liaising link between the artisans and the buyers.
Tyabji visited Pearl Academy’s Kukas based campus to enlighten our students on the importance of India’s rich art and craft heritage along with its much needed conservation. More than 200 students from the Academy attended her session and got a chance to know the maestro closely.
Tyabji said, “India has the most extraordinary crafts people. These very custodians of this rich heritage need to be reassured of a promising economic future for them as well their new generation in order to keep the culture alive. When I look in the future, I can see only one possibility to realise this – student artisans’ partnership. The best craft documentation can emerge only out of this synergy and pave path for world’s most innovative designs leading to an accomplishment mutually beneficial to the students and the artisans.” She further added, “Design students can contribute towards a better life for artisans in the society. Together, they can take crafts beyond the existing products and inspire the rest to believe in the vast potential of Indian art and craft.”
Tyabji also shared her views on the city’s rich cultural legacy and said, “Jaipur city, in fact the entire Rajasthan has been known for its rich art and craft which has inspired national and international designers. The world is witness to the deep influence of Rajasthani art, culture, traditions, architecture, et al in numerous designers’ creations. It is a matter of pride and glory. To keep this inspiration alive for the future generations of designers, we have to act now and conserve what we have and add more value to it to make it commercially profitable for the artisans.”
Dr. Veena Dutta, Director, Pearl Academy Jaipur, said, “Tyabji is an institution in herself. We are overwhelmed with her presence today. Our students listened to her and her golden words are their take away. We hope that this session impact their conscious deeply so that it’s not just a batch of designers that enter the professional world tomorrow, but the rays of hope to brighten up the life of people wherever they go tomorrow.”
More about Padma Shri Laila Tyabji
Ms. Tyabji is a textile designer and art revivalist. She did her schooling at the Welham Girls’ School in Dehradun and continued her studies in art at Vadodara. Later, she went to Japan and got trained under Toshi Yoshida, a Japanese printmaking artist to start a career as a designer.
Tyabji is also a co-founder of Dastkar with five other women in 1981. The inaugural Dastkar Nature Bazaar has since become a regular event with a permanent venue at Kisan Haat, Mehrauli and Delhi. Tyabji also cooperated with the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA), a similar non-governmental organization.
Laila Tyabji authored Threads and Voices – Behind the Indian Textile Tradition, published in 2007, and has written several articles in many Indian journals. In 2003, Tyabji was awarded the ‘Aid to Artisans’ Preservation of Craft Award, the first Asian and the second overall recipient of the award. She is also a recipient of the NIFT Lifetime Achievement Award and the Chishti Harmony Award. The Limca Book of Records, an Indian repository of records and achievements, named Laila Tyabji as ‘Person of the Year’ in 2014.