While financial pundits were scratching their heads to estimate growth targets for Indian economy after the budget, inmates at Asia's largest prison were striking gold with their brand of merchandise.
Brand TJ's - the name under which commodities produced by the prisoners at the Tihar jail are produced - has registered a staggering growth of over 100 per cent over the last financial year.
The 700-odd convicts lodged in Tihar jail earn their daily wages by producing a range of commodities, from furniture to blankets in workshops. This year Brand TJ is set for a turnover of Rs 30 crore, an increase of nearly 130 per cent over Rs 13 crore that it earned last year.
"The year 2012-13 has been excellent for the output and sale of commodities made by convicts that are sold under the brand name of TJ's. We are set to achieve a turnover of Rs 30 crore that is double than last year when the turnover was of around Rs 13 crore," said a jail source.
"It shows that the world outside the jail walls appreciates and trusts the products that are of good quality and are reasonably priced," the source said.
The convicts work at 10 workshops - known as 'factories'- inside Tihar jail. There is one located at each of the 10 sub-jails. For their labour, the prison administration pays the inmates wages as per government rules. An unskilled convict gets Rs 70, a semi-skilled convict Rs 81 and a skilled convict is paid Rs 99 per day. Around 25% of a convict's wage is deducted and goes to the Victim's Welfare Fund.
The products of the carpentry unit led the growth of the products, according to the jail's law officer, Sunil Gupta. "The biggest contribution to the factories' expected turnover of Rs 30 crore this year came from the carpentry unit. It bagged an order that entailed supply of 80,000 wooden desks to Delhi's government schools," he said.
Each of the desks, known as 'dual desk', was priced at around Rs 2,500, he said. Apart from the desks, the carpentry unit makes chairs meant for teachers, table with drawers, notice boards, black boards and writing chairs for students.
"Apart from furniture, other articles including sweet and salted snacks, sweets, blankets and cotton mattresses, cotton shirts, bakery products and spices have got good response from the buyers," said Gupta.
The blankets made by 80-odd convicts in a workshop, established in sub-jail 9 this year, was supplied to Delhi Police and Delhi health department. The jail's products are sold at 13 outlets in the city.