India Exim Bank Supports Training Programme in Product and Design Development in Phalodi, Rajasthan

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Mumbai, October 23, 2020: A training programme titled ‘Product and Design Development in Handmade Fabrics’ has been organised with India Exim Bank’s support, for ten experienced artisans of Urmul Marusthali Bunkar Vikas Samiti (UMBVS), Phalodi, Rajasthan, for a period of 30 days. UMBVS is a registered, not-for-profit organisation established in 1989, having its head office at Phalodi town in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, for the welfare of weavers in the Great Thar Desert of Western Rajasthan. The weaving is being handled by a cluster of 50-60 weavers in six villages, viz., Phalodi, Ranisar, Bhojasar, Bhiyasar, Karwar, Krishnanagar, near Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

Handicrafts and handlooms, being endowed with a rich set of values and beliefs, are a unique manifestation of the roots, culture, and identity of our people. Handicrafts portray the diverse traditions of our country, 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 immense 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, etc. The traditional designs need constant improvisation and innovation to sustain in the current market, which provides a wide range of choices to buyers.

This training programme on product and design development for ten 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 pandemic.

This 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/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 as well as the faculty designer for this workshop, Ritu Suri, is a Textile Design graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT, New Delhi), with a rich experience of 23 years in the field of art and crafts, has a long-standing experience in collaborating with craftsmen, artisans and weavers. Her experience covers working with the Income Generation Programmes of grassroots 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 Ltd., a company founded on the 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 programme aims to equip participant weavers with new and creative ideas in developing the latest trending designs and with innovative weaving techniques in ethnic garment manufacturing, in line with the market demands. We are very hopeful that this training programme will ultimately 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 bountiful efforts of UMBVS in the socio-economic upliftment of the weavers and wished the programme all success.