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Developing ecologically sustainable industry

The Western Ghats region (called Malenaadu in Kannada, the main language of Karnataka) gets heavy rainfall. All the rivers that feed the Deccan plateau in the Southern India originate in these mountains. Malenaadu once boasted of lush green tropical forests and rainforests. In the distant past, there were always small, scattered agricultural populations deep in the jungles. However, the populations being small could live in complete harmony with nature.

Now this equation has changed and changed badly! These days, the demographic pressure on the forestland is so tense that the ecosystem has virtually collapsed. Though a lot of factors have contributed to this crisis, it is largely the poor people who are responsible for it. If Malenaadu has to be saved, the poor will have to be shifted away from agricultural activity and enabled to pursue an ecologically friendly productive activity. The development of handlooms by Charaka has proved to be an ecologically and economically sustainable industry in Sagar taluk.

 

De-Centralisation

In an effort to provide job opportunities to more people, Charaka has de-centralised its processes. People get trained in Charaka on various processes and then they set up their own units in the comfort of their homes. The weavers, dyers or tailors need not travel too far to earn livelihood. Also, most of these workers beeing women, can balance workd and household.

There are currently 2 tailoring units in Sagara 1 tailoring unit each in Genasinakuni and Hebbailu, exclusive Khowdi(quilt) unit and kida wear unit in Heggodu, 1 weaving unit each in Bhimanakone, Handigodu, Purappemane, Murkai and Ragi Hakkalu. An exclusive natural dye unit that specialises in Kasimkari (black) at Atwadi.

Apart from these villages that are within the same geographical area, Charaka also outsource weaving to different self help groups, organisations and individual weavers outside the district. Naturally dyed yarn is supplyed to units in Gajendragad, Mahalingapura, Davangere, Kerur etc and the woven fabric is bought from them.

We are our own pay masters

But we are growing at a phenomenal rate of 25 per cent per year. Our workers, who are their own paymasters, draw a decent living wage. They give themselves a small bonus every year, eat subsidised food, have health insurance and take Home loans. They have a library and a cultural troupe. For all this Charaka is not sustained through donations, either foreign or Indian. Even the occasional government grant that charaka gets – as part of the rural development initiative – is less then 5 per cent of its turnover. Charaka is sustained through its own profits. Given the bleak scenario that exists in rural India, especially amongst handloom workers and handloom societies, this is no mean achievement.