6 July:Using organic cotton, herbal dyes and hand spun threads, women from the desert regions of Patan and Kutch in southern Gujarat have created, what they call the ‘Vaarq Collection’ – premium quality handicrafts and embroidery.
Vaarq – which literally means the glitter used for decoration of sweets, is the name given to the collection of the exclusive line designed by craftswomen from Gujarat promoted under the brand name ‘Hansiba’, an initiative of Self Employed Women’s Association(SEWA).
"I have always been a great admirer of SEWA. It is of great value to see these kind of community based artistic skills resulting in such high quality products," World Bank, Country Director, Isabel Guerrero said at the launch of the collection.
Each of the products in the Vaarq Collection carry a tag bearing the signature of the artisan who made it.
Hansiba is named after the first rural artisan to join SEWA.
The artisan, now 93 years old, grows her own cotton, spins her own yarn and does her own embroidery.
"She signifies the richness of our handicrafts," says Reema Nanavaty, Chairman of SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre.
"The craft sector in our country has proved its resilience. India is growing. We do not have to look towards the West. Now it is the other way round and they look for the exclusive Indian designs.
An initiative like this develops the rural economy without requiring any major infrastructure investment," said former Samata Party President, Jaya Jaitley adding that it helps preserve our aesthetics and bring alive a rich tradition. "We should do everything not just to preserve but to promote this art, said Suneet Aiyar wife of Panchayati Raj Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar.
Thousands of women artisans across Kutch and Patan are shareholders, owners and managers of Hansiba, the brand. Each month a group of these artisans visit the stores, currently in Delhi and Ahmedabad, to see for themselves how the market operates, says Nanavaty.
Speaking about how their lives have changed, master craftswoman Gauri Ben says, "If not for SEWA our skills may have been wiped out. It has not only provided us a secure means of livelihood but has also empowered us.How else would I have been standing here talking to the head of the World Bank?"
"We are able to live a life of dignity," adds Rudi Ben, another master craftswoman.
"The baseline of our business plan is how many artisans we are going to support through it. Our aim is to make sure that more and more money goes back to the artisans," says Nanavati while explaining the difference between Hansiba and any other brand.
"Hansiba is all about promoting the skills and the rich cultural heritage. The product is not machine made. It is all about the rural artisans and their lives. Even in this world of globalisation, this kind of supply chain has relevance. It is bringing the global to local and local to global," Nanavaty adds.Courtsey :AIR