Delhi: Starting from a STEP Youth Leadership Program by TERI University to creating a social initiative and then transforming it into a ‘Social Entrepreneurship’; the student run and organised enterprise ALEEYAH has come a long way. In an exclusive interview with NewsGram by Divyia at Delhi, the 17-year-old founder, Diya Kundu shares her idea about the initiative that transformed so many lives.
Aleeyah was launched last year in May 2015 in an attempt to improve the conditions of the Golabari Village in Changmari district of West Bengal. As they say, ‘Charity begins at home’, Diya decided to start the initiative from her hometown itself.
As a part of the initiative, severely underpaid artisans and craftsman in the rural Bengal are offered a month-long job terms where they create handicrafts using natural raw materials. The handicrafts are then brought to Delhi, where they are polished and then sold at a good price. The proceedings are then reinvested in the village, with 25% going towards the artisans and the remaining 75% are used for overall village welfare.
Since its inception, among many of Aleeyah’s achievements- it has provided light bulbs for homes, repaired leaks on the roofs of various houses, supplied raincoats for farm labourers, given each household a safety-kit and identified and deployed volunteers to provide adolescents with knitting and weaving skills.
The response from the village has been positive, describes Kundu. “There was a time in the beginning when I wasn’t really taken very seriously because I’m really small and everything I understand but then when I got these really small ideas that worked well for them so when I got a camera and started recording everything then they got really excited,” she says.
Apart from Kundu, the enterprise includes two other project heads, along with an Arts division to add finishing touches to the handicrafts and a Social Media division that looks after marketing and brand promotion. Currently, all the participants are students of Delhi Public School Vasant Kunj guided by their French teacher Ms Adita Saxena.
The school plays a prominent role in the functioning of Aleeyah as the Arts division completes their work within the school and a considerable amount of the sales are also conducted through fairs in the school premises. Sales also take place in the form of small handicraft fairs in the nearby localities.
Kundu says, the most unexpected aspect of managing an entrepreneurship comes from a young student of Commerce stream from DPS Vasant Kunj and the fact that how important communication is for the smooth functioning of an enterprise.
The Delhi-based initiative has successfully completed two cycles of bringing crafts for sale and is set for Round 3 in the summer of 2016.
Handicrafts are the products which are mostly made by hand.
The history of Indian handicrafts can be divided into three eras: Pre British, British era, and Post Independence.
Clay craft is the earliest form of crafts to have existed in India.
New Delhi, September 28, 2017: Handicrafts in India have a long history. From ancient to the contemporary times, handcrafters have preserved this art. This art has been passed on from one generation to the next. Pottery making, in fact, is one of its forms, whose existence can be traced back to the Harappan Civilization.
What are handicrafts?
Handicrafts are products that are produced either completely by hands or involve tools. Mechanical tools could also be used as long as the manual contribution of the artisan remains the central component of the produced object. The production of these crafts require great skill and represents a particular expression, culture or tradition. Handicrafts could hold a number of values, some of them being aesthetic, cultural, decorative, utilitarian, religious, functional etc.
Historical Perspective of Indian Handicrafts:
To understand the historical perspective of Indian handicrafts, we need to go back in time. Let’s take a look at the development and decline of the artisanal production under three different time periods: before the arrival of British in India, Under colonial rule, and after India got independence.
History of Indian Handicrafts Before the arrival of British:
Art and crafts, as we have already mentioned, has been a tradition in India since long. Textiles, the most important of the Indian handicrafts, reached the zenith of perfection during the Mughal period. While under Mughals, it was the art of weaving and silk spinning that scored refinement; it was metal works, ivory works and jewelry that reached great potential during the Gupta period. The handicrafts production during that time can be divided in four broad categories. The first category dealt with the village economy under the jajmani system, in which the products were articles of daily use. The second category was integrated with the urban areas, where artisans produced crafts mainly for the purpose of sale. The third category concerns the dadni system, in which the merchants advanced cash to the artisans for production. The final category includes the Karkhanas, where skilled artisans produced luxury crafts under the command of kings or high nobles. Handicraft production was the second biggest source of employment in the pre-British India.
History of Indian Handicrafts Under Colonial Rule:
Under the British rule, production of Indian Handicrafts faced a rather sharp decline. When the East India Company was in power, it forced monopoly over the production of artisans from Bengal, and the price of these products were fixed 15-40% lower than their actual market price. What came as the biggest blow to the Indian artisans, however, was the removal of most of the Indian princes and nobles, which as an effect, led to the destruction of the artisan’s major market.
History of Indian Handicrafts Post-Independence:
The plight of the artisans and the cultural importance of artisanal production was taken into accord after India got independent. The establishment of All India Handicrafts Board in November 1952, to look at the problems and find solutions concerning Indian Handicrafts; the Handicrafts and Handloom Export Corporation of India Ltd in 1958, to promote handicrafts exports; Opening of Crafts Mueseum in 1953 in Delhi, to develop people’s interest in handmade Indian goods, all alluded to the idea that India had finally realized the importance of its art and crafts, and did not want to leave any stone unturned for its development.
A brief history and development of different form of handicrafts in India:
Clay craft and pottery: Clay craft is the earliest form of crafts to have existed, in India or in the world. A simple earthenware made of clay or ceramic has been created and used by the rural population for centuries. Potters have had an integral traditional link with the villages. The earthen pottery has only been developing, with the addition of new colors, figures of gods and goddesses, and decorative elements like flowers.
Main centers: Uttar Pradesh (Nizamabad and Chinhat), where the pottery is dark black; Bengal which produces large figures of gods, especially on the occasion of Durga Puja; In Kashmir, Srinagar is the place where special glazed pottery is made; Terra-cotta roof tiles are a tradition in Orissa and Martha Pradesh; both Rajasthan and Karnataka are popular for their black pottery; Manipur in the northeast is also famous for its pottery.
Wood craft: Wood craft is widely produced and used throughout the country, with the most important products being household furnitures, carts and decorative objects. Baskets for storage and Toys, both for play and decoration are also made on a large scale.
Main centers: The elegant use of wood by skilled craftsmen can be seen in the houses at Gujrat and Kerala. Kashmir acquires a special position in this category of craft, with the walnut and deodar being the most favorite woods there. Saharanpur in U.P is also quite famous for its wooden furniture and objects of decoration.
Metal craft: Copper was the most widely used metal in India before Iron joined in. Utensils, jewelry, dagger, axe heads etc in the harappan finds suggest that casting of copper objects made use of moulds. Bronze was also an important metal for the artisan production. The skills of craftsmen on metals are of various types, such as embossing, engraving, moulding etc.
Main centers: Kashmir (Srinagar) and Ladakh (Zanskar) are the two main centres. In Uttar Pradesh, Moradabad, Aligarh, Varanasi are the main centres of metal craft. Kerala specializes in the bell metal, whereas Bidar in Karnataka is noted for its Bidri work. Tribal groups in India also appear to hold their specific metal craft traditions.
Stone craft: Stones, without a shadow of doubt, have been there with humans since the earliest. They have been crafted into various products such as tools, decorative objects, sculptures and even jewelry. Statue of Yakshi of Didarganj is one fine piece of stone sculpture and dates back to the Maurya period. Majestic Qutub Minar in Delhi, and forts at Agra, Delhi, Jaipur are all works of stone craft.
Main centers: Rajasthan due to a large availability of stones tops the list of most prominent places for stone works. Salem district in Tamil Nadu also makes it to the list along with Gaya in Bihar. The stone cutters of Orissa also share a long history with the craft.
Ornaments and jewelry: From grass jewelry to that of gold and diamonds, one can witness great diversity when it comes to ornaments and jewelry in India. Gold, gems, silver, diamonds, other metals and precious stones are some materials used for making ornaments. Bones, horns, sea shells, lac, glass etc are also used in many parts of the country to create ornaments. The Harappan finds revealed a number of ornaments, indicating their existence since long. There are many references in Ramayana and Mahabharata of gold being precious objects.
Main centers: Western ghats and Matheran in Maharashtra are noted for grass ornaments. Gujarat and Rajasthan share a rich and long tradition of jewelry. Kashmir is one of the most prominent places, again, with its exquisite jewelry, Varanasi and Awadh of U.P. are famous for gold studded jewelry.
Textiles: India had had one of the richest traditions of textiles made from different raw materials. It won’t be wrong to say that Indian textiles tend to reflect Indian culture and religious beliefs. Bengal was the chief center of cotton production and Carpet weaving reached its zenith at the time of Mughals. The most commonly knows fabrics are cotton, wool and silk. The three main techniques used for patterning are weaving, embroidery and dyes.
Main centers: Orissa and Andhra Pradesh are famous for ikat fabric, Gujarat and Rajasthan for bandhani, U.P. and Bengal for jamdani fabrics. Rajasthan is also noted for Masoria fabric.
-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha
Durga Puja in West Bengal has evolved into a platform of its cross-cultural and trans-boundary influences
Months of protests and violence in the Darjeeling hills has failed to dampen the spirit of the Nepali population in Siliguri and in state capital Kolkata
In Kolkata, the Nepali consulate is expected to host around 100 to 150 members of the community from different parts of Bengal on Dasain
Kolkata/Siliguri, September 22, 2017: From goddess Durga draped in traditional Nepali attire for the grand celebration of Dasain, to the resplendent White Temple of Thailand to glimpses of London and the US — Durga Puja in West Bengal is not only a showcase of the state’s artistic heritage but has also evolved into a platform of its cross-cultural and trans-boundary influences.
Geopolitical tensions notwithstanding, slices of soft diplomacy and globalisation are on show in a clutch of pandals (marquees) in the state.
Take Dasain celebrations in Siliguri, for example.
Months of protests and violence in the Darjeeling hills has failed to dampen the spirit of the Nepali population in Siliguri (located at the base of the hill) and in state capital Kolkata where they are gearing up to celebrate the Nepali version of Durga Puja with pomp and splendour.
Recognised by the splotches of vermillion, rice and curd (“tika”) on the foreheads and the prominent sprigs of barley sprouts (jamara) tucked behind one’s ear, Dasain or Vijaya Dashami — Nepal’s biggest festival — has been observed in Siliguri for 25 years by its oldest social organisation, Bhanu Bhakta Samiti.
“Dasain is celebrated with the participation of all communities: Nepali, Bengali, Marwari, Bihari and others. Everyone is welcomed and people, cutting across political party lines, join in the revelry. The Bengalis even offer ‘anjali’ (floral offerings). The Gorkhaland issue is a political one and we do not let it affect our celebrations,” Krishna Lama (Pemba) of the Samiti told IANS.
“We have been having the Durga idol since the last three years. From Sashthi (September 26), we will begin the worship of the protima (idol). She will be dressed in traditional attire and we have roped in designer Alka Sharma for the costumes. Jamara (pot with wheat sprouts) is indispensable to the festival,” Lama said.
Parents and older members of the family apply tika and place the jamara as blessings for the younger ones. The jamara also signifies “shakti”.
In Kolkata, the Nepali consulate is expected to host around 100 to 150 members of the community from different parts of Bengal on Dasain.
“Every year, for over 25 years, we have a Nepali Durga puja in front of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation building. Cultural programmes are organised and representatives of around 32 samitis (clubs) across Bengal join in,” an official of the consulate told IANS.
Meanwhile, the Deshapriya Park committee, which registered the highest footfall for a pandal last year with five million visitors, has in store a slice of Thailand — a popular tourist destination for travellers from east India, served well with 2.5 hour-long flights.
It has recreated the 20th century Wat Rong Khun temple (or the White Temple) located just outside Chiang Rai in northern Thailand. The detailed all-white exterior with mirror trimmings stands out in stark contrast against the grassy park lawns.
Organisers have also replicated the temple’s piece-de-resistance: A mural depicting the burning Twin Towers as Angry Birds, Michael Jackson, Spiderman and other pop culture icons look on.
At Bhowanipore 75 <https://maps.google.com/?q=Bhowanipore+75&entry=gmail&source=g> Palli puja in south Kolkata, a stone’s throw from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s residence, a 40,000 square feet area has been converted into a typical London street. The theme is aligned to Banerjee’s vision of transforming Kolkata into London.
With 2017 being the Indo-UK Year of Culture, the club has tied up with the British Council and London Sharod Utsav.
“Big Ben and Westminster will also be replicated in the area. The idol is crafted from mahogany and brass and decorated with dokra art. Post-puja we are planning to install the idol permanently in any one of the famous institutions of the UK like the British museum or University of London,” Club Secretary Subir Das said.
The Star Spangled Banner is prominent at Badamtala Asar Sangha in south Kolkata. The club is calling its celebration ‘West Wind’ in consonance with the Year of US-India Travel and Tourism Partnership.
“Visually the pandal resembles a street in a hi-tech American city at night. The design is complete with skyscrapers and multi-hued buildings and lights,” said Snehasish, one of the artistic heads. (IANS)
Any kind of physical or mental harm towards women is deemed as “crime against women”
Domestic violence is the most dominant crime against women
Andhra Pradesh state is the highest to report crimes against women in the period of ten years
Sep 20, 2017: A report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) suggests that crimes against women have increased violently in the last ten years with an estimated figure of 2.24 million crimes. The figure is also suggestive of the fact: 26 crimes against women are reported every hour, or one complaint every two minutes, reports IndiaSpendanalysis.
The most dominant crime against women with 909,713 cases reported in last decade was ‘cruelty by husbands and relatives’ under section 498‐A of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
‘Assault on women’ booked under section 354 of IPC is the second-most-reported crime against women with 470,556 crimes.
‘Kidnapping and abduction of women’ are the third-most-reported crime with 315,074 crimes, followed by ‘rape’ (243,051), ‘insult to modesty of women’ (104,151) and ‘dowry death’ (80,833).
The NCRB report also listed three heads, namely commit rape (4,234), abetment of suicide of women (3,734) and protection of women from domestic violence (426) under which cases of crime against women have been reported in 2014.
Andhra Pradesh has reported the most crimes against women (263,839) over the past 10 years.
Andhra Pradesh state is the highest (263,839) to report crimes against women in the period of ten years. Crimes reported for insult (35,733) ranks first followed by cruelty by husband relatives (117,458), assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (51,376) and dowry-related deaths (5,364).
West Bengal (239,760) is second most crime against women state followed by Uttar Pradesh (236,456), Rajasthan (188,928) and Madhya Pradesh (175,593).
Abduction increased up to three folds over the recent years, with Uttar Pradesh being the worst affected state. Cases rose from 15,750 cases in 2005 to 57,311 cases in 2014.
Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94
NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.