IN AN exclusive interview with this citizen journalist Mr Kukreja explains about many aspects of TJ's factory and its reformation work with the inmates.
CJ: Who started this reformation program in Tihar and whose idea was it?
Kukreja: The first lady IPS officer and Director General of Police of Tihar jail Kiran Bedi had started this program in 1994-95. The primary motive of her was to keep all prisoners and inmates occupied and thus she started this program of manufacturing various consumable products. It was noticed that sitting idle and doing nothing was only increasing hatred in their hearts and feelings of taking revenge, so it was important to keep them busy so that they should not able to think all this nonsense. At very small scale it was started and whatever was produced was being consumed in-house only.
At that time there was no market for these products so jail staff and inmates started consuming those products. But now they have scaled up the production.
CJ: What is TJ, the brand name for Tihar Jail products, doing to market these products at large scale in the country?
Kukreja: They had this intention to market these products on larger scale but unfortunately there is no money in selling these products for distributors and retailers. Last year they invited 143 people to take distributorship and retail these products, out of which they selected 13 people. 9 for Delhi and 1 each for NCR regions. I was one of them. After a week they called all 13 of us and shared all terms and conditions to us. Hearing these conditions, 8 of them walked away as it was very clear that there will be no huge profit, and the business will be for a noble social cause only.
After appointing remaining 5 of us as distributor, I requested them I will not be working as a distributor but as a nodal agency and asked them for a bigger role to create awareness and educate people about these products. So they appointed me as a Nodal Agency but unfortunately other four have also stopped working and now only I am currently selling these products by educating people.
CJ: Are there any set-ups in Gurgaon where we can find these products?
Kukreja: Other than this (Metropolis Mall, Gurgaon) I have a small set-up in sector 10A where we keep our material. I also approached Reliance Mart in sector 29 and they also agreed to take a small consignment, and will sell in their single store in Leisure Valley in the city for now. I also give products to Airforce Wives Welfare Association to sell these products in their own unit.
CJ: Do you have foreign buyers also for your product?
Kukreja: Yes, sometimes and they also like these products very much and leave very appreciative comments in the visitor's book.
CJ: Have you also faced opposition for these products as people have thinking these are from a 'jail'?
Kukreja: Yes I do. Initially, there was very high opposition for these products but then I started spreading awareness and I have educated almost one lakh people in Gurgaon, in corporates, among families, and try to educate them about these products. With these efforts most of these people who initially opposed have now starting buying these products.
The proof of the quality of those products are the four ISO certifications, which confirm their Total Quality Management, hygiene and food safety standards.
CJ: Who bears the cost of production?
Kukreja: Tihar Jail and Government bears all cost of production. They procure raw material, produce them and market the products.
CJ: How is the revenue generated distributed among inmates?
Kukreja: For prisoners and inmates there are wages which they get depending on the kind of work they do. And some percentage from the revenue generated after selling these products and some part from the salaries and wages earned by inmates go to the families of the victims affected by the criminal activity of those prisoners.
So if any of them is killed, someone who is the sole bread earner of the family, then that person's family's financial situation is ruined, and then who will take care of them - so to help them, Tihar Jail has taken the initiative to market the TJ brand. I am proud to be associated with them.
CJ: How do the inmates use their wages they get in prison?
Kukreja: Their wages gets collected in their account and they are not allowed to use their wages in cash. Some part they can use to buy some small basic requirements such as tooth brush, toothpaste, and oil, etc., but that too not in cash, they have been given coupons to do that.
CJ: How does Tihar Jail take care of inmates after they move out of prison? Does it keep track as there are chances of them going back to crime?
Kukreja: Normally, nobody goes back again to crime if one is settled in their life in a respectable manner. TJ also supports every person going out from Tihar, teaching them many skills, and does some vocational training, and also recruits them in respectable jobs. But for Tihar it is not possible to monitor all of them because every day new people are coming in and some are going out and every day there is a new step, new start for them so it becomes a huge task for them to monitor, but TJ provides sufficient training - so that if they are motivated then they will never go back to the life of crime.
CJ: What kind of criminals are involved in production?
Kukreja: They include most kinds of criminals. There are those who want to learn and improve their lives and work. There are some murderers who want to work and some are already working hard. Even women are also part of the program but not their children. For them and minor inmates there are opportunities of learning and education like yoga, music, etc.
CJ: Are you also planning to export these products?
Kukreja: No, there is no chance of this because then we need to enhance production, which is not possible at present.