Would you buy products made in jail? The apprehensions are natural. What expertise would they have in making quality products? And why should products be bought from inmates in any case when there is no dearth of stationery shops in cities?
The Vadodara Central Jail remains an exception to this. There is a high demand for printing and stationary products made there.
The inmates manufacture a wide range of items such as single-grade files, spring files, lamination covers, postal covers, message forms and registers.
It’s the only jail that has a printing press business in Vadodara. Government offices in Rajkot and Mehsana order materials from this jail, making it unique.
Almost 60 inmates use four machines to manufacture scores of stationery items that are then packed tidily and dispatched to offices.
The stationery manufacturing business touched a record turnover of Rs 1.53 crore in 2022-23, of which Rs 19 lakh was net profit.
Praising the prisoners’ stationery-making skills, Jagdish Bangarvwa, superintendent of police, at Vadodara Central Jail, told a national newspaper, “The quality of products we manufacture is so good that we get a flurry of orders every year.”
He added, “The stationery items made at our jail are supplied to most government offices as well as district police departments in central Gujarat.”
Jail officials told the daily, “The government departments are always in need of stationery products and what better alternative than quality items made by another government department.”
“The business has been booming for the past two years when our turnover went up by over Rs 50 lakh. In fact, we are planning to send a proposal to the state prison authorities for buying four new semi-automatic printing machines,” they said.
The report mentioned that the turnover of this business could touch Rs 2 crore in two years. The business is flourishing to the extent that the jail has been accepting private orders to print invitation cards, visiting cards, and other such items that are sold at half the market prices.
What’s more, a portion of the profit is distributed among the jail inmates involved in the manufacturing. Apparently, they earn a decent amount.