A training programme titled ‘Product and Design Development in Handmade Fabrics’ has been organised with Exim Bank’s support, for 10 experienced artisans of Urmul Marusthali Bunkar Vikas Samiti (UMBVS), Phalodi, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, for a period of 30 days. UMBVS is a not-for-profit organisation established in 1989, having its head office at Phalodi, for the welfare of weavers in the Thar desert in Rajasthan. The weaving is being handled by a cluster of 50-60 weavers in 6 villages, viz. Phalodi, Ranisar, Bhojasar, Bhiyasar, Karwar, Krishnanagar in the surroundings of Jodhpur.
Handicrafts and handlooms, being endowed with a rich set of values and beliefs, are a unique manifestation of the roots, culture, and identity of the people associated with the sector. Handicrafts portray the diverse traditions of India, handed down through generations of craftspeople or through people associated with this sector. The technique of the member weavers of UMBVS is unique and the skills required to handle the pit-looms and related equipment is generally mastered only by a few weavers, based on their experience. The weavers, despite their harsh terrain and straitened circumstances, take pride in their work, which is reflected in the fabrics woven. It is the weavers’ unrelenting perseverance in inhospitable surroundings, that has kept the art alive. However, there are several challenges faced by the weavers, viz, lack of knowledge and awareness about innovative weaving techniques, churning out new designs in tune with market requirements, latest trends and designs, textures, patterns, colour combinations, among other technicalities. The traditional designs need constant improvisation and innovation to sustain in the current market, which provides a wide range of choices to buyers.
The training programme on product and design development for 10 master artisans of UMBVS is the second online training programme supported by Exim Bank, and has been conceptualised with due regard to social distancing norms, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The training programme shall impart training to the weavers to improve their understanding of and become quality conscious about their products, in the larger context of enhancing the scope for income generation. Thus, this training programme for the artisans would provide a good opportunity for the weavers to gain knowledge and exposure to innovative ideas in modern techniques and new designs, that could enable wider appeal and acceptance of this fading art. Surjanram Jaipal, Chief Executive, UMBVS and himself a weaver, has been actively contributing to the endeavour of keeping this traditional art alive and pass it on to the next generation.
The programme mentor, Ritu Suri, a Delhi based designer, having a rich experience of 23 years in the field of art and crafts, has long-standing experience in collaborating with craftsmen artisans and weavers. The Faculty Designer for this workshop, Ritu is a textile design graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi. Her experience covers working with the income generation programmes of grassroot level organisations like UMBVS, Vasundhara Gramothan Samiti, Urmul Seemant and Sadhna, to name a few. Ritu is one of the earliest members of the vast Rangsutra family (Rangsutra Crafts India), a company founded on artisans’ ownership. Owing to her valuable experience of having worked closely with artisans and her long association with UMBVS, she has a deep understanding of the needs of the weavers in coming to terms with the trends and demands of a dynamic market.
This online training aims to equip participant weavers with new and creative ideas in developing latest trending designs and with innovative weaving techniques in ethnic garment manufacturing in line with the market demands. The training programme will result in the skill development of a wide cross-section of weavers under the URMUL umbrella, eventually leading to their all-round socio-economic upliftment. David Rasquinha, Managing Director – India, Exim Bank, in his welcome address, acknowledged the efforts of UMBVS in the socio-economic upliftment of the weavers and wished the programme all success.