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BY VENKATACHARI JAGANNATHAN
She gave birth to Tsunamika, the doll that brought hope to hundreds of women who had lost everything in their life to the devastating 2004 tsunami that hit the southern India coast. Fifteen years down the line, she, again through Tsunamika is giving hope to the same ocean that once took away much from many.
Uma Prajapati, 50, an entrepreneur-cum-social activist, who built the fashion garment company Upasana Design Studio in Auroville, now plans to carry out her business to sustain the future of the planet.
For a woman, who had to once play hard to convince her parents from Gaya, Bihar that her arena was larger than within the four-walls they gave her, Prajapati’s mission is now to protect the environment and promote sustainable living for those dependent on it. .
Her fashion garments only uses khadi, organic cotton and handloom. She has used her design skills to come up with a compact foldable shopping bag as an environment-friendly solution for plastic carry bags. She has also started projects like Paruthi working with farmers in Tamil Nadu to grow organic cotton and Varanasi weavers.
For Prajapati, born and brought up in small town in Bihar, the Auroville connection happened after she attended an exhibition in Pragati Maidan in Delhi. “Auroville had a stall at the exhibition. The place interested me and I wrote to them expressing my wish to make a visit. I got a positive response,” Prajapati told IANS from Auroville, the universal township near Puducherry set up to promote human unity.
Then just into the first few months in Delhi after she left behind a life most secluded and sheltered, the economics student from a Gaya college, who aspired to be a scholar, or writer, or painter, it was a huge leap.
Taking two weeks off from office, she came down to Auroville. “I realised that Auroville was the place for me where I could be a designer and also a spiritual seeker. It was a radical place for me and I settled down here in 1997,” she said.
Be that as it may, Prajapati upon arrival in Auroville joined a small garment unit. Very soon with a small sum of Rs 2,000 she turned entrepreneur floating Upasana, which broke even in six months time.
Recalling her first social project — Tsunamika — Prajapati said life was chugging along well with her garment business that started in 1997. Soon, she was shipping out about 40 per cent of the production.
Then a tsunami wave hit the southern coast in 2004 turning lives upside down. Upasana turned from pure garment business outfit to a socially-conscious venture.
“When I visited the tsunami affected fishing villages in Puducherry, I saw the women staring emptily and silent. It suddenly struck me to ask them whether they would like to make dolls. My idea was to make them to focus on something else and ignite the fire of hope in their minds.”
When the fisherwomen agreed, Prajapati brought loads of garment waste from Upasana and taught them how to make tiny dolls – these were named ‘Tsunamika’.
While the women made the dolls, the mood was heavy and silence prevailed until one woman laughed. “Suddenly I heard laughter from one woman. She pulled the leg of her neighbour saying the doll she had made looked stupid, just like the maker. It was a small comment but the mood of the group changed immediately and there was laughter after several days,” Prajapati said.
She took the doll idea to several fishing villages in Puducherry and soon had thousands of dolls on hand giving rise to the concept of a ‘gift economy’.
The Tsunamika dolls are not sold but given as gifts. The recipient of the gift or others can make donation as per their capacity.
Donations received were used for making more dolls and payments made to the fisherwomen. “After a long time, there came a day when the thought of a donation didn’t occur, while gifting the dolls. The purity of the concept changes you slowly,” she said.
Over a period of 15 years, about six million Tsunamika dolls were made and sent to over 80 countries. The Tsunamika project has been given the ‘Award of Excellence’ by the Government of India and a special recognition by UNESCO.
Tsunamika’s story book was published in seven languages, English, German, Russian, Danish, French, Tamil and Spanish. Tsunamika is the only project post tsunami that is still active.
Prajapati said she was never tempted to use the brand equity of Tsunamika for her garments or tag the Upasana brand to Tsunamika.
“The concept is to upcycle waste to hope. From a symbol of hope, Tsunamika has now transformed to be the voice of the ocean, voice of the coastline spreading the message that oceans are not dumping places for untreated sewage water and other garbage,” she remarked.
The coastal community lists out three things that kills the ocean — black water (untreated sewage), over fishing by trawlers and dumping of garbage.
Prajapati will be targeting school children to imbibe and also spread the ‘save the ocean’ message.
This thought gave birth to ‘Paruthi’ which was about growing organic cotton so that farmers can realise higher prices and the garment is made with eco-friendly cloth.
Working with about 600 farmers, Prajapati saw that organic cotton was grown in about rainfed 900 acres, in Tamil Nadu.
“We are looking at exports to Japan and Europe under the Upasana brand,” she said. The company has brand outlets in Puducherry, Bengaluru and Pune while supplying to 20 other retail outlets.
That is a long long way from where she started when her father had told her painting and art were not stable income earners, she recalled.
“We had music, dance, painting tuitions at home. I learnt painting and music. Life was not difficult as father was into automobile business,” she said. But her parents were not sure of her professional choices at first. (IANS)
Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India will set up a 50 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Odisha's Sambalpur at a total cost of Rs 301.92 crore, moving steadily towards its goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024. MCL has placed a turnkey order to set-up a 50 MW solar power plant with a Chennai-based firm M/s Hild Energy Ltd, which will establish this green energy project within a timeline of 10 months, the MCL said in a statement on Saturday.
This solar plant would cater to the captive power requirement of MCL. The Central PSU had successfully set-up a 2MW solar power plant in Sambalpur in 2014. The company said it has pledged a target of installing 182 MW of solar power by 2024 in order to become a net zero energy company, aligning itself to use cleaner forms of energy for coal production.
The company said it has pledged a target of installing 182 MW of solar power by 2024. | Photo by Mariana Proença on Unsplash
This 50 MW solar power project will reduce CO2 emission by 91,020 tonnes per annum and carbon offsets of around 24,824 tonnes per annum, claimed the MCL. MCL is the leading production subsidiary of Coal India, having mining operations in Angul, Jharsuguda and Sundargarh districts of Odisha. Having achieved the highest ever capital expenditure of Rs 2,419 crore in the financial year 2020-21, the company has coal production and dispatch targets of 163 million tonnes and 182 million tonnes, respectively.
MCL was the coal mining company to introduce environment-friendly surface miner technology, which contributes over 95 per cent in coal production. As another environment-friendly initiative, the company has successfully introduced vertical rippers for blast-less over-burden removal in Hingula and Kaniha opencast projects. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: solar plant, carbon neutrality, Odisha, Sambalpur, Coal India, subsidiary, Mahanadi Coalfields Limited, solar energy
As the nation celebrated the 114th birth anniversary of his father - renowned poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan - megastar Amitabh Bachchan remembered his dad as he penned a heartfelt note for him. The actor took to his blog where he poured his heart out and also shared an unseen photo with his father. The image in question is from Big B's wedding in 1973, where the two are caught in a sweet moment as they look at each other.
Amitabh Bachchan wrote on his blog,
"My Father , my all .. November 27th his birth in the year 1907 .. Which makes it his 114th Anniversary .. He is in the heavens, with my Mother and they celebrate .. as do we , in thought word and deed .. (sic). But first."
He then posted the picture followed by elaborate paragraphs. The megastar wrote,
"Those rare moments when one would find himself rushing against the winds to prevent the distance between us and to close it down as soon as it can be. The day of my wedding and his expression of fulfilment to not just be in congratulation but instead to be in the face of a belief, a chime, an ultimate season of love and great passion, of the quarries of the fears and conditionings of these deprived gym routines kart ..(sic)". "This could have been unknown for long facilitating years, to give not expected versions and lastly large scale informations of the insides ; but as time passed by, as does now , they explained purposely, the values of education and similarity .. Be in peace and love .. (sic)",
the veteran actor concluded his note. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Amitabh Bachchan, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, actor, blog, birth anniversary, 114th birthday
By Plabita Sharma
The World Vegan month of November usually brings with itself an increased amount of dialogue and searches about Vegan lifestyle, sustainable living and clean beauty. Before pondering any further, it is important to understand what the Vegan lifestyle is and how it goes beyond the concept of consuming a plant-based diet. Veganism essentially is a lifestyle that is driven by compassionate choices and an increased awareness of one's actions on the world. Thus motivated by the two, a vegan individual usually carefully curates their day-to-day practices in a manner that does little to no- harm to the planet, the people and all of its inhabitants.
Beauty as industry has time and again been scrutinised for its effects on the consumers and the ecosystem - this can be during the manufacturing process or the effect it has on the consumer's thought processes. Now, as the world moves towards adopting Global Sustainability Goals, committing to a world that works with the natural resources instead of against them - it is only fair for each individual to be curious about making the right choices to make their beauty bag as consciously curated as possible. With multiple brands coming up with new standards of vegan and sustainable beauty, many consumers are left confused and doubting the authenticity of these claims. So here is a quick guide that can help you make the right choices:
Vegan and cruelty free labels: Keeping true to the traditional meaning of Vegan - any vegan beauty product means that it is completely plant based and has no animal ingredients or any of their by-products like honey, beeswax, dairy product etc. Similarly, cruelty-free as a label means that the ingredients or the final product did not test on animals or harm any animals during the production process. One way to test the authenticity is to check if these products are legally certified by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), or verified by Vegan organisations as The Vegan Society and others. Cruelty-free and vegan products are also generally categorized by having cleaner and gentler formulas as they are mostly deprived of harsh chemicals and solvents.
Any vegan beauty product means that it is completely plant based and has no animal ingredients or any of their by-products like honey, beeswax, dairy product etc. | Photo by Drew Dizzy Graham on Unsplash
Ethical and natural ingredients: It is equally important to invest in products that use ethically sourced and sustainably harvested ingredients. Since most vegan products tend to be plant derived it is of utmost value to ensure that while the source is nature, the impact of manufacturing is also minimal so that there is no harm done to the environment. Often the face scrubs used by us are most damaging not just to the face and to the marine life as well; thus opting for more natural ingredients rather than synthetic ones is quite beneficial. Some natural scrubbing ingredients are sugar, salt, coffee which are safe for the coral reefs and far gentler than synthetic scrubs.
It is equally important to invest in products that use ethically sourced and sustainably harvested ingredients. | Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Sustainable and ecofriendly packaging: While the ingredients and formulation can be certified, it is also important to pay attention the quality, material and nature of the packaging in which the product is being stored. With an increase in clean-beauty standards, the consumption of such products has also increased, thus giving brands the opportunity to further develop their packaging in a manner that is sustainable and its increased quantity does not harm the environment. This could translate into using raw materials that are recycled and can be renewed or even introducing the concept of up-cycling the product packaging for decoration or storage purposes. Fore example, The Body Shop has recently launched a new line of vegan hair care and body butters; that are not only made of 95 per cent ingredients of natural origin but the packaging is made of recycled plastic that can further be recycled thus continuing the recycling system. Their makeup brushes also have wooden handles instead of plastic ones this adds to their classy appearance and use of ecofriendly material.
The Body Shop has recently launched a new line of vegan hair care and body butters; that are not only made of 95 per cent ingredients of natural origin but the packaging is made of recycled plastic. | Photo by Oli Dale on Unsplash
The above is a small snippet in a long list of things that can help contribute to a cleaner and more consciously lifestyle. Where demand increase, supply follows - as people begin to demand ethical, responsible production and products, more and more brands have begun to deliver. Household names such as The Body Shop have pioneered conversations on clean, green and sustainable beauty for decades - thus making them a frontrunner for several old time vegan people.
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Beauty, makeup, clean, November, World Vegan month, New Standards , Vegan, Conscious