Ethnic weaves: In the tiny village of Chanderi in the Ashoknagar district of Madhya Pradesh, there is little respite from the scorching summer heat as the mercury touches 42 and 43 degrees celcius. There is a preponderance of dry dust on the barren land, which has not seen rain in months.
There is shortage of water, with daily tankers meeting the local people's meagre
needs. The local population, which includes 1,000-odd weavers, could still have
coped, but the mortal blow is looming in the form of disappearing demand for their
cherished fabric, chanderi.
Yet, in the face of impending doom, there is an air of hope, anticipation and
excitement in this sleepy little village, as 455 weaver families are poised to
become owners of shares in a community-owned company, a concept totally alien to all
except the few educated youths here.
Mohammed Zuber Ansari, 28, has a master's degree. After failing to find a job, he
found himself in front of a loom and is still trying to come to terms with the
developments. "We bought shares for Rs 1,000 and all I know is that this could
change our lives in some way."
That way has been paved by Fabindia, a retail outfit that has grown from one store
in the mid 1990s to 85. Dabbling in fabric, apparel, handicraft and other products,
it began an experiment with community-owned companies nine years ago in an attempt
to include artisans in the wealth creation process.
Text: Anjuli Bhargava
Image: Fabindia store | Photograph: Fabindia Website
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