Prisoners run $2.2 million business

Prisoners run $2.2 million business
Inmates work in the bakery section of Tihar Jail in New Delhi.

INDIA - Prison-made products have not only become a huge hit among the people in India, but they are also filling up the jail coffers around the country.

According to the Prisons Statistics India released by the National Crimes Record Bureau recently, prison products in India made about Rs128.24 crores (S$2.6 million) last year, crossing the Rs100 crores mark for the first time. The revenue has increased by 82 per cent from 2009, when the total turnover was Rs70 crores. In 2011, jails in India sold products worth Rs91.49 crores, whereas the figures for 2010 were Rs80.10 crores.

Prisoners in India are trained in weaving, tailoring, carpentry, agriculture and various other skills.

The products they make are then sold in the market. In some cities, prisoners also make food like biscuits, breads, buns and cakes. In Kerala, prison- made chappati and chicken curry are very popular among the public.

In Karnal, Punjab, inmates prepare bakery products for sale as a part of a welfare project. Scientists from the National Dairy Research Institute give training to these inmates.

The Tihar Jail in New Delhi runs a factory which has a carpentry unit, a weaving unit consisting of 12 powerlooms and 52 handlooms, a tailoring unit, a chemical and paper unit, a food processing unit, pottery unit and a baking school. It ranks No.1 among India's top jail earners, selling products worth Rs28.85 crores. Bihar jails come in second with Rs17.08 crores worth of sales while Uttar Pradesh jails are third with Rs14.56 crores in turnover.

The authorities believe that the work done by the inmates not only provides them with additional skills but also helps develop their self-respect.

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