Jaya Jaitly studied in Japan, Burma, Belgium, the UK and graduated from Smith College, USA. She has an intimate knowledge of the craft traditions of the country having worked in the field for over 40 years. She is considered a leader and expert in this field. She founded an association of crafts people called the Dastkari Haat Samiti, which enables traditional workers to gain confidence in the marketplace through many innovative strategies. She regularly guides crafts people in design, organization and marketing all over India and organizes major exhibitions promoting India’s arts, crafts and culture in India and abroad in which craftspeople are anintrinsic part. She is the creator of the concept of Dilli Haat and saw to its establishment in Delhi. It enables thousands of artisans with sustainable livelihoods to preserve their cultural heritage and is one of the best-known and popular spots for visitors and Indians alike. It now serves as a model for other such establishments. Her work through bringing together crafts people of India and Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and African countries has been taken up by the government as an instrument in diplomacy to bring together crafts practitioners in many countries to share skills and assist in capacity building. She was in mainstream politics for 25 years and headed the Samata Party as its national president in 2001. She now restricts her public work to the craft sector and writing, although she is still active on many political issues, including women’s empowerment., Tibet. Burma , and human rights. She is a prolific writer and has published books on the Crafts of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, the Craft Traditions of India, Viswakarma’s Children, a socio-economic study of crafts people, and Crafting Nature. She has created a vast documentation of the arts, crafts and textiles of India through 24 highly artistic and unique maps of all the states of India, called Crafts Atlas of India. She has written stories on crafts children that were first published by Penguin and now widely distributed in many regional languages through the well known NGO Pratham. She has assisted in creating a syllabus for schools of India’s craft heritage for NCERT. Her recent publication Crafting Indian Scripts, is based on a major project called Akshara combining literacy, craft and calligraphy. The exhibition created and curated by her on this subject has been shown in Delhi, Cairo, and is due to go to the Unesco headquarters in September 2013. The Woven Treasures of Varanasi is under publication. A Podium on the Pavement is a selection of her writings on a variety of subjects including politics, foreign affairs, women and social issues. She is the editor and Publisher of The OtherSide, a monthly journal of democratic socialist thought and action. She has been deeply involved in heritage and livelihood issues at all levels and has received awards for her work in culture and the arts and as a role model for women leaders.
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