Dr Ela Dedhia, Head Department of Textiles & Fashion Technology, College of Home Science Nirmala Niketan, Affiliated to University of Mumbai

A National webinar on SWADESHI BLOOM- INDIAN CRAFTS AND TECHNOLOGY – IMPETUS OF PANDEMIC ERA  was held on 28th April, 2020 by the Department of Textile and Fashion Technology of College Home Science, Nirmala Niketan, Affiliated to University of Mumbai, NAAC Accredited A Grade Delegates included students, teachers, professionals, and others related to this field at National and International level.

The webinar was inaugurated by Dr Geeta Ibrahim, Principal of the college where she appreciated the department for initiating such a sensitive and important theme.

Dr. Ela dhedia, Head of Department of Textile and Fashion Technology, gave an overview of the theme. She said that it is the correct and a very important time to understand the present condition of Indian crafts and craftsmen during this Covid 19 times. India is a treasure of very rich crafts. Craft and craftspeople (artisans) have always been the life line of india. There are thousands of craft persons and their entire families are dependent on their livelihood on these crafts. During this tough period of pandemic era our artisans are struggling for their daily basic necessities. So this is the right time to discuss and understand what is the present scenario and their future and how to take this further in this era.

Dr Dedhia moderated the panel discussion including the questions raised by participants on Youtube.

Mrs Geeta Castelino, an educationist, consulting psychologist, CSR consultant, Fashion and Textile Industry advisor, Executive board member of the Kala Ghoda Association also co moderated the session along with Dr Ela Dedhia.

Along with Dr Dedhia on the organizing committee included Mrs Vrinda Udiaver and Mrs Sangamitra Navalgund who presented a brief introduction of all the panelist and Mrs Sangamitra also proposed the vote of thanks. Edfly was the Technical partner and Textile Value Chain was the Media Partner. There were three esteemed panellists during the webinar.

There were total 6 panellist.

Ms. Ratna Krishnakumar, managing Trustee at Shrishti Welfare Trust, Munnar, Kerala. In 1994, she founded Aryanya Natural. Presently  she is Managing Committee member of Paramparik Karigar, an association that aims to preserve and promote arts and crafts of India. She mentioned that craftsmen are suffering because they don’t have any sales at the moment due to covid-19 pandemic era. They are identifying the craftsmen who are really needy and who are financially not stable for whom they have assigned certain days where their art is displayed on the social media platforms of Paramparik karigars such as website, Facebook, and Instagram where consumers can directly contact the craftsman and place their orders to them directly.  She said that Textile will always sell but the Craft on the other hand is such that consumers would invest on when they have extra money. Most craftsmen donot calculate the price taking note of working hours, manpower, electricity, gas, etc. they just price their art based on raw material cost and randomly price their art work.

Mr. Sarfaraz Khatri, CEO of Prachin, the manufacturer and exporter of exclusive handblock printed silk fabric, shawls, stoles, etc. with vegetable dyes. He works with the artisans to produce block printed textiles, dyed using natural dyes. According to him although It takes almost 1 to 1.5 month to complete their one art work but when it goes to the market consumers do not value that and their hard work and their love for that art. It is a period were artisans need strength to work as they don’t have any work currently during Pandemic, so they need orders to live with dignity. He said post covid-19 we should encourage them to improve their art and help them to make more articles uniquely. Artisans donot get appreciation for their crafts and hard work, so here is a great chance with best opportunity as Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Mod, has also asked all to become Swadeshi and use Indian products which will bring opportunity for all.

Mr. Kailash Tulsi Gajara, Founder of Atulsia Technologies in 2013, a software company for Indian and International markets, and recently started Mega Stores since 2019, sells craft products for international customers. Megastore enterprise is a market place that offers customers most products made by artisans, of rural kutch helping artisans to market their unique products world wide. Artisans credit and benefits are the main aim for them. They started with 35 artisans and now they have a group of 250 artisans. Even NGO’s directly connected to artisans can sell on this platform. And also some of the upcoming designers have also started posting their art and craft on this platform. Crafts are sold with story of artisans and it also includes the basic information about the craft and many time even videos are recorded and posted. He said that we must work on making craft valuable and unique products, which will add more and more credits to the art.

Ms. Bella sanghvi, a revivalist of antiquated handcrafted and khadi techniques since last 40years. She has 3 brands to her credit and currently authoring book on Textile Techniques of India. Her mission is to ensure handlooms, handcrafted and khadi are recognized as an Industry and supported by the  government accordingly. She is currently the President of Craft Council of Maharashtra. She said India is the largest in handlooms, khadi etc. and we need to generate more social hands, by talking directly with customers and designers. She has a team of more than 2200 karigars, she says we need to create a demand where we can all wear handlooms and handcrafts. According to her we should not sell the products of the craftman but we should make people buy products and generate more demand for these crafts.

Ms. Sarita Ganeriwala, is the creative head and founder head of “Karomi”. She setup karomi in 2007 after gaining 8 years of experience in Textile industry. She works in the field of weaving of jamdani, handblock printing and kantha embroidery. She said we should work on increasing orders and work for artisan’s. She works with different clusters but always takes them forward. We should focus on bringing innovation to art, innovation can be bought on stage of yarns , because jamdani basically works on pitloom. We should work for design driven Textiles with best quality. We should concentrate on craft work and design interventions, colour interventions and also should encourage the emotional contact with the art to generate demand and awareness for art.

Dr Pallavi Tak, an educationist, blogger, social entrepreneurship driver, and advocate of sustainable and inclusive development. She is Assistant Vice President social impact incubation at Startup Oasis. She passionately works with the young women and social entrepreneurs to build sustainable enterprises. She said that they donot work directly with artisans but contact them through some platforms. They mostly work as incubator where they help new business entrepreneurs with business strategies, functional technology, and many other ways.  She said this is the right time to think about crafts of India and to revive them from not getting extinct and to generate demand for them. Also discussed various ways for tackling these problems.

This webinar gave in-depth information about various crafts, and also about the situation the craftsmen are facing currently due to Pandemic and also ways where students and new entrepreneurs and designers can work together with artisans to help them think of various ways to tackle it. There is a huge opportunity to grow with the artisans and also overcome these problems.