Recommendations For The Handloom Industry

Statement from Ashoke Chatterjee, Former Executive Director, National Institute of Design

Research Findings by Nesar Ahmed

Varanasi Weavers - Support and Regeneration

- Uma Prajapati,

- Rahul Kodkani, Udai

- SOS Children's Village
Ashoke Chatterjee's Briefings:
  • November 2005

  • February 2006

  • April 2007

  • At Craft Revival Trust

    Rahul Kodkani
    Graduate Student Researcher, University of California
    04th April, 2007

    ”When we first heard about the crisis faced by the Varanasi weavers, the first reaction was that of outrage. Most of us have seen "Made in China" copies of Indian arts and crafts available in the malls of the US. It was only when we heard of the starvation and malnutrition related deaths in the weaver communities, that we realized, probably for the fist time, the perils of unchecked globalization. In our first discussion we realized that the issue is not only about cultural heritage and intellectual property rights, but also about basic human rights, unfair trade practises, education, perils of caste-system, poverty, and even child labour.

    A very small portion of the Indian and other communities in the US are aware about this issue. Udai has mainly been spreading awareness of this issue. We have collaborated with CRT, CCI, CCWB, and PVCHR. We helped PVCHR spread awareness about the situation by hosting their video on - an online video hosting website that has millions of visitors every day. The video has reached over a thousand people. We also did a small fundraiser with The Art of Living Foundation for the Varanasi Weavers Trust that PVCHR has started. In several events and gatherings, we have also raised awareness about the issue with posters and fliers.

    We hope to do an exhibition at the San Diego Museum in the future on Varanasi Silks. With help from other organizations and traders, we also hope to collaborate with online Indian marriage portals such as used by millions to meet their future spouses. The goal is not only to spread awareness through their websites but also to provide a way for the website users to purchase original Varanasi silks, by providing a list of approved shops in various cities.

    We have a lot of ideas. All of them rely on collaborating with key organizations and individuals like you. We hope that we can collaborate with you and hope to help in any way we can.”

    About Udai
    Udai is a 2 year old organization started by a few graduate students at the University of California in San Diego (UCSD) with a mission to promote awareness of social issues and contribute to their alleviation. Currently based in UCSD and University of Waterloo, Canada Udai has about 80 members, most of whom are students pursuing post graduate degrees in various fields.

    Udai has four focus areas: cultural heritage, education, health, and technology. They have worked with various organizations based in India and the US in each of these sectors.

    Specific to the area of cultural heritage Rahul Kondakani states that ”Though in the US, there is a lot of awareness of the rich musical heritage that India has to offer the community hardly ever gets to see the arts and crafts and the way they are made. The Arts and Crafts sector gets ignored especially in the smaller cities of the US. Hosting Arts and Crafts exhibitions is one way to encourage this side of our cultural heritage and Udai hopes to help out in this respect. Last year Udai worked with the Crafts Council of West Bengal to host an arts/crafts exhibition and sale in San Diego during the U.N. Charter Day celebrations, hosted by the U.N. Association of San Diego. They were fortunate that Patachitra artist, Gurupada Chitrakar and Kantha embroidery artist, Bina Dey of CCWB were with Udai before they went on to participate in the renowned International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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