Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sometimes we get lost in the nitty-gritty of everyday problems and the long-term objectives seem like a distant dream, impossible to achieve. Is it really possible for a coalition of farmers and village textile producers to make a reasonable living out of a home-grown, local cotton textile industry? But then we think of the staggering difficulties we have overcome on the malkha journey, and the dream seems not so distant after all.

The first incredible step was to eliminate baling from the field-to-fabric process. We did it. It was done by conceptualizing, designing and making the Gramaspinner carder, a poem of a machine, treating the lighter-than-air cotton fibres as gently as they had never been treated since traditional hand-carding was practiced on a substantial scale. It's been done, though it was supposed to be technically impossible. The next hurdle was to make yarn strong enough to be sized and woven. It's easy now to take that for granted, to forget what anxiety that step caused us before it happened, and what elation once it did.

That the cloth coming out of this process would be a beautiful fabric was, in the difficult early days, an act of faith. But when it did come, it was. Now the question is: How shall we, based in Hyderabad, reach the people who want it in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore where we have held successful exhibitions?

And now we must ensure that the producers do actually enjoy a democratic way of functioning, do share the fruits of their labour in a just and equitable way. This is the next, monumental hurdle on the malkha journey.

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