"The advantage of working together is that everyone grows together."
R.C.Marble was started by three brothers Ramesh Chand, Deep Chand and Chotelal in the historical city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh. Agra was once the capital of the powerful Mughal empire and as a result its architecture and decorative arts reflect the style and culture of that dynasty. Its greatest contributions to the handicraft industry of this region was the intricate techniques of ‘jali’ carving and inlay work using semi-precious stones on marble.
Carrying this tradition forward, the three Chand brothers started R.C.Marble which specialises in hand-carved jali work on a variety of stones including marble, gorarastone, palewa and blackstone. Their work also includes beautiful marble inlay.
Chotelal currently manages the everyday functioning of R.C.Marble. He was mentored by his eldest brother Ramesh, before taking over the reins from him. At any point in time, he has 15-20 artisans working for him. Chotelal reminisces about the time when Agra’s hand-carved products were in much demand. Because the work involves a highly skilled process requiring artistic talent, artisans specializing in this trade are hard to find. Simultaneously, with machine made products making inroads into the handicraft business, Chotelal is witnessing a decline in the demand for such products as well.
Often, Chotelal’s artisans have to supplement their income by doing manual labor or selling peanuts on the street. Assistance came from Asha Handicrafts Association which introduced R.C.Marble to the concept of Fair Trade and quality control to distinguish their products from others. Today, R.C.Marble boasts of a cost-effective dust extraction system that ensures its artisans don’t breathe the dust that arises from cutting stone.
Yet Chotelal and his brothers are struggling to keep their business afloat. Most of their manual tools were designed and developed by Chotelal’s eldest brother, Ramesh, and they now feel the necessity to upgrade their equipment. This will help them increase the efficiency of their production. MyMela’s loan will help them achieve this goal one step at a time.
Despite the hardships the brothers face, their family bond stays strong. In fact, Chotelal is quick to state that he wouldn’t have it any other way. “We fight sometimes but we always stand by each other,” he says with a twinkle in his eye.