Reflecting on 'Ananta the Flamboyant Stitch'
Ananta – the eternal – ongoing effort of reviving strengthening the rich cultural heritage and skill base of the rural women artisans of India and South Asia.
As Elaben says, when I wear Khadi, I have a global vision of self reliance. Khadi demonstrates sustainability of economy, society and environment. By wearing Khadi, I try to support and respect those active and creative hands of the growers, spinners and weavers. My purchase directly supports the rural poor producers.
The same is true of other rural cottage industry produce. In our country, we have thousands of weavers, potters, carpenters, blacksmiths, embroiders who have creative industrious hands.
They are poor and live on the periphery of our society. Yet, they keep the Indian culture and traditions – the rich heritage alive from generation to generation for thousands of years. The artisans keep our Indian culture and heritage vibrant world over.
Gandhiji, therefore only must have supported Khadi. As in those days our hand spun textile sector was directly under attack of the Western mill made textiles. Gandhiji wanted to bring back the rich skills and strength of our rural spinners and weavers. He wanted to strengthen the rural economy. He always wanted the urban citizens to support their fellow rural citizens.
Today we are free and liberated, we are not under any foreign rule. However adhoc industrialization has completely destroyed the rural trades and economy. The skills which were built over generations, have been lost or deskilled at once.
Finally, the artisans are compelled to go and work as casual labourers on earth digging sites. Dig pits, fill pits – which has no value or meaning. These rich skilled hands are being killed in just doing non-constructive low skilled labour works.
The skilled artisans are getting more and more deskilled – everywhere. Be it in India or Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan or Nepal. It is the same everywhere.
The Ananta is also an effort or an initiative to bridge the local culture, heritage and skills to the global world – which is soon turning into a global village.
Thus Ananta strives to universalize the importance of rich traditional culture and skill which in the globalizing world and global village ensures livelihood security to the rural women artisans and their communities.
“Reflections of Ananta” is an effort to involve the mainstream stakeholders – the society, designers, market, artists, industry, academia along with the rural artisans and their communites by documenting and highlighting the process, the journey – how at each and every step the artisans, their communities, the European designers, organisors all feel a sense of ownership, learning from each other, moving towards a common goal of ensuring livelihood security, fighting poverty through traditional skills and reaching new markets.
At 'SEWA' we have been striving to preserve these rich traditional skills and generate livelihoods. The artisan women and their families value the rich skill base, have enough work and income, the artisan women and their families have healthy, and happy and quality life.