The leather industry has its own history. Sri Haralayya one of the greatest poets of Vachana movement who lived in 12th Century A.D. belonged to the community of leather artisans. Sri. Haralayya and his wife were staunch devotees of Lord Shiva. This couple was also a disciple of Sri. Basavanna, the great revolutionary, Social reformer who was also the minister in Bijjala’s court.It is said that one day Sri. Basavanna visited Sri. Haralayya’s house with an intention to eradicate untouchability. There he performed the puja ceremony and consumes the holy offerings. When Sri Basavanna was about to leave the place, Sri Haralayya saluted Sri. Basavanna with the remark ‘Sharanu’ to which Sri. Basavanna responded by uttering ‘Sharanu Sharanarthi’.
Sri. Haralayya stood dumbfounded to see Sri Basavanna’s generosity towards an untouchable leather artisan. Sri. Haralayya decided to repay his gratitude to Sri Basavanna. It is well remembered that he prepared a pair of footwear by peeling out the skin from his right thigh and from his wife Smt. Kalyanamma’s left thigh.
(These shoes which he prepared for Shivasharana Basavanna about 800 years ago are still preserved in a small temple located at Bijanahalli village of Sedam taluk in Kalaburgi district, which has been specially constructed for this purpose). Sri Basavanna thought it would be great injustice to receive them from the Haralayya couple who were great devotees of Lord Shiva and thus returned the shoes to them.
When Sri. Haralayya took back home, the pair of shoes that Sri. Basavanna returned to him after placing it on his head, Sri Maduvarasa and others ridiculed and laughed at him. It is said that they suffered severe itching of the skin because of the ridicule and that later the itch disappeared only when they went to Sri Haralayya’s house and poured the water used for tanning leather on their itchy skin. This shows that leather tanning industry is being undertaken since centuries and is regarded as a sacred occupation. This occupation is relevant even today and has grown enormously.
Dr. Babu Jagjeevan Ram Leather Industries Development Corporation Ltd. was established in 1976 by the Government with the objectives being an overall development of leather industry in the state and also to look after the welfare of the leather artisans belonging to the scheduled castes. The corporation functions under the administrative control of the Social Welfare Department.
Keeping these objectives of the State Government in focus, the Corporation has been formulating and implementing several schemes for the socio-economic development of the artisans belonging to the scheduled castes.
The State Government has been providing allocation in the budget of the Social Welfare department every year. A district-wise target is fixed according to the allocation and the population of leather artisans.
New schemes have been designed and dedicated to along with some old schemes that are continued. The Corporation hopes that the leather artisans come forward to utilize these schemes for their socio-economic progress.