Surviving Trades Of Benglur - The metal cutters.
Meet Muthu. For 30 years he has been working in a small workshop that's next to the Kalasipalaya Bus Stand. Out of school after basic education, he started off as an assistant and cleaner, then worked his way up to operate machines he was only allowed to clean. Starting withe the cutting (hacksaw) machines, the lathe and finally the milling machine. Today, he is the partner in the workshop.
In the age of CNC (Computer Numeric Controlled) Lathe and Milling Machines, this workshop that solely relies on the skills of people is a throw back to the 70s and 80s. That was the age when mechanical engineering ruled. And with establishments like HMT (Hindustan Machine Tools) and BFW based in the city, Bangalore not just produced the machines and tools required for a cash-strapped socialist India, it also produced the best people to operate the machines.
Today, the land where HMT factory stood has been cut and parcelled out to real estate developers. Most large industries have acquired modern machines but to this day, hundreds of little workshops like this one dot Bangalore. From Peenya to Jigani; Magadi Road to Hoskote. And in Kalasipalaya.
But what is the secret of their survival?
Computerised machines 'work-out' only if there are large batches of machined parts. There are many industries in Bangalore that require small quantities and often they might require highly intricate parts that require complex jigs and fixtures and most importantly, highly skilled craftsmen. Also, larger firms out source work to little shops across the city.
Here. there are many like Muthu who can convert any complex drawing you give them into high precision parts. They often require creative solutions and what is called Indian ingenuity that allows them to make complex things for a fraction of the the actual cost.
If you walk into a workshop in Peenya, you will be surprised as the kind of clients they have. How do you think India manages to launch satellites to the moon for a fraction of the cost than in the west?
The Which Main? What Cross? The Exhibition - Is on until May 31st.