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Still hot, it's Dilli Haat

Dilli Haat is now 10, standing on its own feet and running. Yet the dream of a better run continues. ANJANA RAJAN speaks to some of the people associated with this unique window to Indian arts and food.


DILLI HAAT, currently celebrating 10 years of its eventful existence, demolishes all stereotypes of Government-run corporates. A joint project of the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation and the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, with the support of the Ministry of Textiles, it is a fine example, says an official, of the bureaucracy joining hands for the benefit of society. With monthly festivals and a craft bazaar that changes every fortnight, it is a vibrant arena showcasing India's rural crafts for an urban audience.

Says Rajeev Talwar, who was Managing Director of Dilli Haat for over two years till he became the Commissioner, Transport, Government of Delhi, "It was one of the best experiences you can have. There is nothing but excellence in Delhi Tourism. The staff is a highly motivated lot."


Tarlochan Singh, credited with getting this venture on its feet a decade ago when he was Managing Director, Delhi Tourism, recalls, "This project was my dream. My idea was to have all the foods of India under one roof. Then Jaya Jaitley joined me, and we decided to have all the artists from across the country." He is happy with the way the Haat, designed by architect Pradeep Sachdeva, has shaped, but mentions that his hopes for an international pavilion with the cooperation of embassies and international airlines featuring cuisines of the world has not materialised.

There are 25 food stalls run by the State tourism development corporations, and proud staffers say that momos, fruit beer and other regional specialities were introduced to Delhi's elite through them. But Tarlochan Singh points out that the stalls have been leased to local food contractors, whereas his intention was for the State departments themselves to provide authentic fare. He does feel however, that his insistence on placing an entry ticket to the six-acre complex "has saved Dilli Haat" from becoming a loafers' den.


Moreover, emphasises Rajeev Talwar, "It is India's only bridge that directly links the producers from the most interior of rural areas." The artisans are screened through the Development Commissioners of Handlooms and Handicrafts. Separation of roles - Delhi Tourism deals only with management and not allocation of stalls - feels Talwar, adds to the transparent process. And since all the artisans come from the interiors, cheating is the last thing on their minds. As for their profiting from business conducted at Dilli Haat, he says, there wouldn't have been a queue for takers if it were not a lucrative deal, in which they pay approximately Rs.250 per day and sell directly to the public.


As Dilli Haat savours its past decade, there is still time till March 31 to join in the celebrations.

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