Monday, 31 March 2014

Consumption and production should be close to each other.

Gandhi recognized that alienation and exploitation often occur when production and consumption are divorced from their social and cultural context, and that local enterprise is a way to avoid these problems: 

"Swadeshi is that spirit in us which requires us to serve our immediate neighbors before others, and to use things produced in our neighborhood in preference to those more remote. So doing, we serve humanity to the best of our capacity. We cannot serve humanity by neglecting our neighbors."

Handloom haats, held much in the same way as vegetable mandis, still prevail across India. In districts in Odisha, for example, anyone from an individual weaver like Kabiraj to a cooperative society to a trader can sell his or her wares at these handloom haats. To a large extent, there is no hierarchy within these markets and there are no conditions placed on who can sell. Access to the market, in this case, can lie directly with the weaver - the product doesn't pass through multiple hands and the profits are made straight from the customer. ... "
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I remember jokingly asking Kabiraj one day why he didn't move to Bangalore or Surat in search of work, considering he would have made as much money breaking stones. He laughed and replied that he would have, and was certainly was tempted to, but it just wasn't the way he wanted to live his life. He said that in cities, he only saw pollution and poor living conditions. To him, living a healthy lifestyle and being with his family outweighed the temptation to earn more.

The main reason why the Bomkai weave has survived is its very strong link to the local culture. It is a thick cotton sari that works well in the hot, humid climate of Odisha, and the motifs on the borders are drawn from their immediate surroundings: kumbha (temple spires), dalimba (pomegranate) and nagabandh (snakes intertwined) are some examples. Pallu motifs use kalera (bitter gourd), mayura (peacocks), rookha (wooden lampstands), domboru (drums), and so on. The formulae for weaving these motifs differ across families, preserved in the form of rhymes handed down from ancestors. In earlier times, when weavers had creative control over their work, no two Bomkais would ever be alike. "

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