On Sunday 23 January, it looked as if all the roads in Delhi led to only one place – Pragati Maidan. The place where India International Trade Fair is held every year. This year also the scenario was no different. General public jostling with one another to get inside quickly. Security personnel, as usual, had a tough time handling eager visitors and for the parking attendant the situation was even worse as cars zoomed past each other to get that ideal slot. That makes us wonder what is the reason for this worked-up atmosphere year after year. The mystery is yet to unravel and more on that later.
Once inside the IITF, pushing and shoving, so common outside, vanish into the thin air. Everyone seems to be content and goes about their business unhurriedly. Pavilions that dot the venue are demarcated meticulously so that the visitors have no problem in finding what they want to. State pavilions are clubbed together and Industry-specific and commercial stalls are aligned at a different place. This way those who want to enjoy visual spectacle can head to the direction of State pavilions and the shopaholics can go towards the wide array of commercial stalls earmarked specifically to sell goods. There were three food courts inside the venue to satisfy the taste buds of the visitors. All three served different cuisines. One served street delicacies, second served grilled items and the third hosted branded stuff like Dominos Pizza etc… However, at the same time, one has to be very skilled to take in the culinary delights without any unwanted run-ins or obstructions.
Coming to the State pavilion, it was Kerala that took the breath away by its sheer visual splendour. It has to be seen to be believed, the awesomeness. At the entrance you are treated to a huge statue of an angel. This object is sculpted in such an ingenious manner that you are bound to feel its something lively. Here again the guards had a tough time explaining onlookers not to create commotion by standing still near the statue to capture the angel on their smartphones. However, the public were unmoved and were happy clicking despite repeated requests to move on. There is something about that larger-than-life statuette and no point blaming the curious visitors. Under the statue there were small carved out figures of lady workers, symbolising the work culture of Kerala. One lady was sewing, another was hunched on to a computer and the other indulged in some artistic occupation. It aptly conveyed how womenfolks are actively contributing to every households in the God’s Own Country. Now commercially, there were enough mouth-watering snacks and herbal products on sale, on the first floor, with small kiosks peddling crispy Banana and Tapioca chips, Calicut Halwa and Ayurvedic hair oil. As you come out of the pavilion you don’t feel exhausted but sad that like all the good things in life this too has passed.
Coming to the Delhi pavilion, the stress was on gender equality as the title in Hindi read, Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin (We are not inferior to anyone) referring to women workers. This was an ideal way to encourage women entrepreneurs in the capital to do their bit towards the economy as a whole. The initiative should be seen in the context of rising attacks against women in Indian Capital, which always get bad press on this count. So it was indeed special on the part of the organiser to come up with such a theme. There were many other sights to behold especially the handicraft segment. People from different states sold ethnic hand-woven objects in an array of small shops. However, those who are a bit tightfisted when it comes to money are advised against visiting these shops as you only cause inconvenience others by unnecessarily crowding the place.
Still it is unclear as to why people make a beeline to Pragati Maidan every year. Probably it makes for an ideal weekend getaway. Maybe it is almost like a community get together where various families walk, talk and eat together. Who knows, if you are lucky enough, you might make some new friends as well. You can come up with as many conjectures you can but the conundrum remains. One thing is clear, IITF is akin to a big-budget movie that requires multiple viewing to sink in the grandeur in totality. One day is to less a time to appreciate a humongous show like trade fair, which concludes on 27 November.