For wider reach, Tihar Jail to get distributors for its TJ's brand
Last year, the annual turnover of merchandise made by the inmates of Tihar Jail, which is known as TJ's, was R11 crore - double of the 2009 figures, but might do even better this year.
Aiming to travel a few steps further to double the sale output in 2011-12 and reach every home in the National Capital Region (NCR), the jail's authorities are currently in the process of appointing professional distributors for the branded products, whose range includes mustard oil and bakery products to furniture.
Considering the known profile of the TJ's workforce, which comprises of convicts, the authorities had a fortnight ago invited applications for distributorship a little gingerly.
The response stumped them - the jail authorities received a total of 145 applications. The applicants have now been called for 'interview' next week, from Wednesday to Friday, in batches of 50 a day. The applicants would have to meet eligibility criteria set by the jail authorities.
"We are overjoyed to find that 145 applicants have sought to become our TJ's brand's distributors in Delhi and NCR. It just shows how well the common man appreciates our products, made by the inmates as they are of good quality and reasonably-priced," said the jail's law officer Sunil Gupta.
Tihar Jail's director general Neeraj Kumar said, "The hiring of professional distributors will go a long way in popularising the brand and making it widely accessible."
Gupta added, "The eligibility criteria include having good credibility, having a good network with retailers, transport facilities, and government accreditation."
Besides, a potential TJ's distributor should be sensitive to the cause of social good as the entire exercise to make these products is geared towards rehabilitating their makers, according to another source.
Currently, the brand has no distributor in the city, though it is sold at around 20 outlets of the Kendriya Bhandar and over two dozen other outlets including those at the Parliament, the Delhi high court and district courts.
Around 700 inmates manufacture a range of 25 products under this brand at 'factories' located in sub-jail number 2.
Honey will soon join the list of products available under the TJ's brand, according to Gupta. With technical help from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), the jail authorities have begun a pilot apiculture project in sub-jail one.
An apiary, where beehives of honeybees are kept, has been set up to produce honey that will be marketed. "Around 10 inmates have been trained to handle the apiary," said Gupta.
Besides, the authorities have also set up a new blanket-manufacturing unit while those on hosiery and spices are on the anvil too.
For spreading awareness about the brand, the authorities have also placed advertisements in newspapers, FM radio channels and through a social networking site.