The woman transforming the lives of rural artisans: Laila Tyabji
While in the same part of the world, most of us visit expensive apparel stores and malls to pay an absurd amount of money for machine-made clothes; there are some workers in our very country, who work day and night on a single piece, for days at end, and sell it for less than what a burger would cost at a fancy restaurant. They don’t have funds or aren’t educated enough to get the amount they deserve for their hard labour. One of the few women who are doing their bit to help such men and women is Laila Tyabji. She is the chairperson of Dastkar, an Indian non-government organization working to promote craftspeople across India.
Tyabji was always interested in Indian handicrafts but a trip to Kutch made her realize that this was, in fact, her true calling. She, for the first time met artisans and saw the poor living conditions in which they work and decided to form Dastkar with five other partners. Crafts are the second-largest employment generator in India after agriculture, according to Tyabji; and still don’t receive the amount of attention they deserve.
“Staying in Indian metros and abroad, it is easy for any artisan or designer to question the substandard quality of artwork being produced by the rural craftsmen. While we are all lost in admiring the glorious artwork of the historical era, we certainly miss out on the fundamental point that today’s craftsmen in rural areas do not even have the means to earn a livelihood, forget the apt environment for working,” Tyabji said, in an interview with YourStory.
In a span of almost 35 years, Laila Tyabji has helped thousands of rural artisans and currently employs over 36,000 of them. The Padma Shri recipient has also authored a book called ‘Threads and Voices – Behind the Indian Textile Tradition.’ Tyabji is one of the every few educated women in the country who choose social entrepreneurship even when they have more monetarily profitable alternatives and we all here at SheThePeople.TV deeply admire her efforts.
[Featured Picture Courtesy: The Hindu]