Asia

Working Lives: kitemaker

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Media captionWorking Lives India: Kite-maker

Pathan Ashrafkhan Asifkhan, or Rajubhai as he prefers to be called, has turned the craft of handmaking kites into big business.

At his shop in the crowded Old City of Ahmedabad, he sells 50,000 kites a day in the week before the city's big kite festival.

He employs hundreds of people, mostly women, to make the simple tissue paper and bamboo kites that are used all over India.

"The kitemakers are Muslim and the kite sellers are Hindu," he says, describing the traditional division of labour.

To make the business work, Rajubhai's production line is scattered in pockets around the dense network of streets.

Down an alley and round a corner, a group of women are busy with sheets of tissue paper and bamboo sticks. Their fingers fly in repetitive patterns as they glue the curved bamboo strut in place, giving the kite its tension.

Each worker can make around 2,000 kites a day, says Rajubhai, for which he pays them around 200 rupees, the equivalent of $3.

Paper kites are traditional, but "the more expensive ones we make with plastic and print with Bollywood stars", he says.

Another short walk away through labyrinthine streets, Rajubhai shows off a shop where a group of young men are working on the plastic kites. Bollywood leading man Salman Khan features prominently.

Rajubhai pulls out another kite from a stack.

It features a photograph of Gujarat state minister and prime ministerial favourite Narendhra Modi, of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

"This is a popular one this year," says Rajubhai with a smile.