Saturday, December 29, 2012

retailing malkha garments

At Malkha Marketing Trust our aim is to make malkha available to the large middle market, with  the lowest possible marketing overheads. In this approach there are lots of dilemmas which need to be resolved in a creative way. Regular mainstream marketing  needs a mark-up of AT LEAST 100% and often more, to make it viable. That would make the retail price of an average malkha kurti Rs 960 [2 metres fabric Rs 320, tailoring Rs 100, transport and overheads Rs 60], while we would like it to retail for around Rs 650-700.Then there is the investment and working capital cost to be factored in because we will need to hold stocks of garments in different designs and sizes.... aaarrrgh!

On-line retail is one possible way. Malkha fabrics are already available on i-tokri, but retail of garments is a whole other ball-game - sizes, styles etc. And on-line cannot be the ONLY way, we also need some direct access to introduce malkha to people who have not seen/touched/worn malkha before.

Ideas and suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

stamps on traditional textiles

A First Day cover featuring traditional Indian textiles, available at most POs in the country.

Monday, December 17, 2012

the cradle on the loom

One of our favourite images from the handloom archives, the picture shows an ideal weaving situation - a cradle mounted on a loom in which a fat-cheeked baby comfortably sleeps, lulled by the continuous clacking of the fly-shuttle, in a spacious stone-floored room. The photograph was taken by Pankaj Sekhsaria in Koyyalagudem village, Andhra, about 10 years ago.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

from The Hindu, December 10, 2012:

Weft and warp of a crisis

Vivek S.
Aseem Shrivastava

DISCOLOURATION: Orienting the handloom industry towards the international economy is a wrong step by the government. 

Though more people in India are in the textile sector, than in any other of the economy, bar agriculture, hostile and indifferent government policies are giving it short shrift.

Handloom weavers from all over the country are on a 72-hour hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi from today in protest against the government’s textile policy. The protest is led by Rastra Cheneta Jana Samakhya, the State Handloom Weavers’ Union of Andhra Pradesh. Weavers from Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh are participating in it.
Some of the most pressing issues of the handloom industry relate to budget allocation and policy-making. Hence the protest is timed to coincide with the winter session of Parliament. Its aim is to draw national attention to the long-standing problems of this industry before the Budget Session. Meagre budgets for handlooms year after year have not recognised the significance of this industry in providing productive livelihoods in rural areas.
More people in India are in the textile sector than in any other of the economy, bar agriculture. Approximately, one out of 12 households in India derives its primary income from it. And the survival of one out of 60 Indian households (according to the founding president of the National Handloom Weavers Union, Macherla Mohan Rao) depends on the viability of the handloom economy.
Debt, intermediaries
However, thanks to indifferent, even hostile, policies by successive governments, handloom-weaving is in severe crisis today. In some States, the advent of intensified competition in the era of aggressive globalisation has forced scores of weavers to take their own lives. Even official estimates show that due to unbearable debt burdens, about a 1,000 weavers may have committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh alone since 2002. According to the National Handloom Census of 2009-10, close to 60 per cent of India’s weavers today fall below the poverty line, and 80 per cent face high debts, being at the mercy of intermediaries who also double up as moneylenders, controlling access to both markets and raw materials. These key inputs have become increasingly more expensive since the advent of globalisation in the 1980s.
From the colonial era, the handloom economy has had to face the consequences of State policies that have consistently promoted increasing mechanisation and automation. While the mill sector — in the throes of crippling debt — continues to find favour with governments ever willing to offer sops and subsidies (often in the name of scientific or technical advancement) to it, the handloom economy has consistently received third class treatment.
One metre out of every four of the country’s cloth is produced in the handloom economy, yet it gets just one rupee out of 20 spent by the government on the textile industry. Another way to comprehend the injustice is to remember that while one out of five people working in the textile sector as a whole is a handloom weaver, s/he gets just one government rupee for every Rs.20 allocated per worker in the mill sector (and even this is cornered by the captains of industry).
For reservation act
At the heart of the weavers’ demands is that the government redress the situation through the implementation of the Handloom Reservation Act, negated by blatant and illegal duplication of handlooms by powerlooms. They are also demanding their entitlement of higher allocation in the central budget and an assured, affordable supply of the key inputs of yarns and dyes.
The government has sought to address the weavers’ crisis by trying to orient the handloom industry towards the international economy. This is outrageous folly.
The truth is that the handloom economy is deeply rooted in local cultures, traditions and markets. To lose sight of this is to persist with the mindset that is the source of the handloom industry’s crisis. Such an outlook also betrays a poor understanding both of the unemployment in the country’s modern sectors as well as of the handloom economy’s capacity to meet the challenge of large-scale rural employment, if enlightened policies are followed.
Those protesting at Jantar Mantar from December 10 to 13 are there in the faith that the resolution of these issues lies in the strength of collective action by weavers from around the country.
(Vivek S. is a Hyderabad-based analyst. Aseem Shrivastava, a Delhi-based writer and economist, is the author, with Ashish Kothari, of Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India, Viking Penguin, New Delhi, 2012).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kala Ashram in Adilabad recently celebrated Ravindra Sharma's 'sasthipurthi', 6oth birthday, and honoured some of the folk artists and craftspersons with whom he has been closely involved for most of his life. The 3 day event was an aesthetic feast, and there should be some photographs posted soon on internet.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from an article about him:

The diversity of the historical folk culture of Adilabad, with its different roles and relationships is unimaginable to our modernized, sanitized and homogenized minds.  Besides the forest dwelling adivasi and the cultivators there are the artists, the entertainers, the story tellers, bards and musicians, the magicians, healers, priests, and scholars, the makers, weavers of cotton and wool and tassar, stonemasons, potters, carvers of wooden deities, metalsmiths and brass casters, toy-makers, bamboo specialists, toddy tappers, oil pressers, the service jatis[1], the herders of cows and sheep, those who travel for most of the year but who have a home here nonetheless, and the nomads, passing through on annual migrations.  The various strands of these peoples’ ways, customs and occupations are at the same time distinctly separate and yet intimately connected with each other, forming an intricate tapestry of local society and tradition.
We spent hours and days listening to Sharmaji[also known as Guruji]'s recreation of the past.  The village day was defined by the visits of the sanchar jatis, the itinerants, beginning before daybreak with the budubudukalodu, whose songs drove away evil spirits, the balasantodu with conch and bell, and the gosamolu, a huband and wife playing an ektara.  There were people with skills such as water divining, general entertainers and educators, and story-tellers of particular communities, the bhikshavruthi, who were each attached to a specific jati the as oral historians for that jati, and were supported by their patrons.  Each community, the weavers, the potters, the Manevarlu, the Golla shepherds, has its own story-tellers who trace the history of the jati back to link it up to Puranic times, and each story is told with the help of a patt, and sometimes also with separate painted wooden figures.  These histories connect the past to the present in a continuous thread.  The weaving caste of the Padmasalis traces its origins through Markandeya to Bhavanarushi, their deity, clothes maker to the gods.  From these beginning the stories are updated to today, and tell where the current generation of Padmashalis has migrated to, who has married whom, and the names of the newborn children.  This relationship between the story tellers and the weavers amplifies the role of bhiksha in our samaj, far from the pattern of dependency and condescension connoted by the words begging and beggars.
There is mobility too among the samaaj. Weaving is taken up by the ‘netagani’, ‘non-weavers’, when it pays, dropped in favour of other work when it is not remunerative. 
Guruji’s involvement with the samaaj in and around Adilabad has been focused on the jatis who made up the largest part of the samaaj, who took pride in their particular and specific skills, who had lateral and interdependent relations among themselves, far from the European picture of a rigid,  hierarchic Indian society. Guruji has shared the lives of many of them, travelling through the forests with parrot-catchers, attending the ten day wedding celebrations of the Mathurias and the jatras[2] where the metal casting Ohtaris sell their craft.  He has learnt wax wire casting from the Ojhas and taught them how to make larger objects in their own technique. He has taught art in a tribal school for ten years, teaching Kolam boys the techniques of the artist, first how to draw, then to paint, and later modeling  in matti, wax-wire brass casting and other local craft techniques to express their own unique inner world.

[1] Jati: occupational grouping
[2] Jatra: journey, usually pilgrimage

Monday, November 26, 2012

What a beautiful poster Either Or has made for their malkha show... and here is what they say:

This winter

Either or
proudly presents

 The new khadi

As the spirit of Christmas sets in, we bring to you the beautiful
range of the new khadi- Malkha .
Malkha – malmal and khadi is the new fabric that attempts to bring
together a possibility of love and harmony by combining the harmonious
efforts of small scale farmers and weavers with the love of the
unbaled natural cotton, and thereby bringing together a fabric that
brings with it a revolution of a kind.

With prints and plains in natural and non toxic colours, the malkha
fabric resonates the connection with its natural environment

Join us in this festivity and support the birth of a new beginning:
Celebrating with fabrics, saris and duppattas
At Either Or , Sohrab Hall
21, Sassoon road
Pune -411001

1st dec-10th Dec 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Malkha is now selling online at, a step forward in our search for market access... and seems to be doing well too, since stock is to be replenished's the link:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Working hard to try and make the February 'Gandhiji's textiles of peace: khadi and malkha' event at Crafts Museum happen...though not much help so far from the Khadi and Village Industries Commission...perhaps we should just do a smaller, simpler event this time, just malkha at the Attic, for example

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Diwali millet sweets mela was not the grand success we hoped it would be, in spite of media coverage in newspapers & by TV channels. Not many customers, though the ones who did come liked what was on offer. Perhaps the traditional taste for millets has been too long forgotten? perhaps the present over-40 generation is too used to our limited diets of rice & wheat, and the young don't have the time or inclination, yet, to try 'health food'? Or perhaps Diwali & the day before were not the right days to hold the mela?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Well the inaugural Nature Bazar at the new premises, Kisaan Haat, Andheria Modh, near the Chattarpur Metro stop in Delhi comes to an end today. It is obviously going to be the new tourist attraction for Delhi residents & visitors, and we look forward eagerly to find out what Dastkar plans to do here in the coming months...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Is indigo toxic? Here is an extract from the paper A Future Vision for Natural Dyeing, 2000:

Ten years ago we tried our hand at indigo production at the village of Tondamnadu near Kalahasti.  The wife of the farmer from whom we leased the land and the tanks told us this story: Ten years before us, somebody tried to make indigo.  At that time chemical fertilisers had newly reached the village, and some sacks of it were stored near the indigo extraction tanks. Three puppies ate some of the fertilizer and became violently ill. One wandered over to the vats where the indigo solution was being beaten, drank some of the indigo froth from the tank, and survived, the other two died.
Oops.. apparently the domain has expired... will try & get it up asap.
Meanwhile production is booming at the 4 old centres since we installed generators as a temporary solution to the power problem. Need to start looking into renewable energy possibilities pretty soon.
And the good news is that our natural softening process for the fabric seems to be working! Hope to have it in place in a couple of months, perhaps in time for the Kolkatha show.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The malkha stall is no 44 at Dastkar's Nature Bazar in Delhi, the first event at their new premises... a good location, easy to get to by metro with no parking problems for those who use cars.

Malkha had a good first day yesterday, and most of the sarees are gone. We apologize to disappointed customers, but there are some great developments in the pipeline. The production centre that makes the sarees has now set up its own malkha yarn unit, and will be making thinner sarees & dupattas, which should be available for the first time by mid-December.

Friday, October 19, 2012

News from MMT

Malkha had very good sales at National Archives, and made some promising connections:

itokri, an online portal, will retail malkha online
Kashida will embroider & tailor some garments for malkha to retail
Pavan Mitroo will try retailing  malkha in Delhi:

Pavan Mitroo
Phoenix Designs & Printing Solutions
2nd floor, 252, Shahpur Jat
(Landmark : Opp. Panchsheel Commercial Complex)
New Delhi - 110049
Tel : 011-416-55440

Tara Aslam of Nature Alley got orders from Fabindia for the malkha garments she makes
and people loved the phulkari motifs on malkha by the Nabha Foundation ...see pic on Facebook/malkhafreedom.

Meanwhile the garment samples Julie Kagti has designed for us are much sought after, but we have yet to find a tailor to make them.

Exhibitions in Delhi, Kolkatha, Bhopal, Pune and Mumbai coming up between now and February.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

our guardian

and here is the guardian of exhibition, an official employee of the National Archives of India, a female langur. She keeps away the predatory rhesus monkeys

Friday, October 5, 2012

letter in malkha mailbox

Had the camera to hand when Shubhaji came and in the excitement forgot to take pictures!
Meanwhile here is a letter in our mailbox:

Dear Sir.......early this year when you had a stall at the exhibition in Kalakshetra my daughter and I bought quite a lot of your beautiful fabric and recommended it to many friends.....we are so pleased with the material and how suitable it is for our climate. Is it possible you will be coming to Madras in the near future? I am told it is
unlikely that Kalakshetra is having an exhibition soon. Please would you let me know if you are going to be here sometime soon. All good wishes for your  continuing success.

Sincerely...radha gopalakrishnan

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Shubha Mudgul to visit malkha stall

We look forward to Shubha Mudgul, the great Hindustani classical singer, visiting the malkha stall at the NAI show... will post pics

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Minister for Rural Development Shri Jairam Ramesh will open our exhibition on October 1 at 5 pm. All welcome

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

India’s cotton cloth: the once & future king

This is the abstract of my talk in Delhi at India International Centre planned for October 6:
India for at least 18 centuries was the acknowledged world leader in cotton textiles, making a breathtaking diversity of fabrics. With the entry of the British East India Company into production in the mid 19th century the chain of interdependence between cotton farmers and weavers was broken, losing with it the process of cotton textile production that had made India the world’s supplier of cotton cloth. 

The background of the talk is the history of  the traditional Indian cotton textile industry over millennia. Since Roman times cotton cloth from India had been exported to Europe. But for the first time in the early 19th century there were European interventions in production: Changes were introduced by the East India Company into both cotton textile making and cotton growing. Spinning was mechanized & centralized. Cotton had now to be grown for one standardized type of machine, in other words nature had to adapt to technology, rather than – as before - flexible technologies adapted to a huge diversity of cotton varieties.  The damaging effects of those changes on the environment and on the Indian cotton textile industry can be felt today.

The last part is the 20 year story of malkha, from the 1990s to the present. Malkha combines traditional and cutting edge technologies to suit a contemporary context, replacing the resource intensive process of industrial yarn making with a series of small-scale, village based, field-to-fabric production chains.

Friday, September 14, 2012

textiles of peace at National Archives

Should the Hindi version of 'Gandhiji & the Textiles of Peace' be Gandhiji aur Aman ki Chadariya which is what M K Raina has suggested, or Gandhiji aur Shanti ka Tanabana as the translation dept of National Archives has it? Your suggestions welcome.
Meanwhile the posters have already been printed with one, and the banners will be painted with the other.
Please note dates: October 2-11

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

While the massive & spreading protests at & around Kudankulam are being downplayed in the national media, and the Police are breaking into the locked homes of the protesters, destroying their few possessions, we could reflect on an earlier nuclear event, and its lasting impact 25 years on:

Today, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant sits inside a fenced area known as the Exclusion Zone. Radioactive remnants of the failed reactor linger inside the so-called sarcophagus, a 24-story concrete and steel encasement hastily erected after the accident. Leaky and structurally unsound, it now threatens to collapse, shaking loose enough radiation to cause a second disaster of similar magnitude. Work has started on a new encasement, which will slide over the existing sarcophagus to seal in the remaining nuclear fuel - at an estimated cost of 2 billion dollars.
Less than 2 miles away from the reactor, the evacuated town of Pripyat, once inhabited by 50,000 plant workers, is a chilling ghost town still littered with the remnants of its hasty abandonment. Within the Exclusion Zone, in dozens of abandoned villages collapsed houses are disappearing under overgrowth. Ignoring radiation levels, some 400 elderly people have returned to their homes.
From the first day, officials downplayed the damages of the catastrophe and the politics of misinformation continues: A UN report estimates that 4,000 people will eventually succumb to cancer-related illnesses as the result of the accident. But major environmental organizations have accused the report of whitewashing Chernobyl's impact and state that more than 100,000 people have already died as a consequence of the disaster.
In the desperate search for alternative energy sources, it is important that we remember the Chernobyl accident as a possible outcome of nuclear power.
from The Huffington Post website

Friday, September 7, 2012

Deccan rockscape

The two and a half billion years old, majestic, irreplaceable Deccan rocks are so easily destroyed, wrecking the heritage Deccan landscape, so that a few people with money can make more money. On a par with the destruction of the South American rainforests using chainsaws, the rocks are now being mined with heavy machinery that cuts out cubes of 20 feet diameter in one go. One can just stand by and watch in anguish.

Kudos to Frauke Quader for her role as the leading light of the Save the Rocks Society. Pictures by Pradip Krishen.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ashok Lunawat runs Vardhaman Enterprises in Bangalore, where he processes garments for export. He is going to help Malkha set up a fabric processing plant next year at a Common Facilities Centre at Sircilla, where we will also have a second dyeing unit. Ashok gave us some idea of the space and the two machines needed: a hydro extractor and a tumble drier. Fabric finishing will be a new area of research for us, as upto now it has been done for us in a small way by Sanjay Gulati of Modelama Exports.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Starting the Bangalore Bazaar on a cheery note: Sales were upto our usual first-day average, even at the out-of-the way venue. Some of the regular malkha customers took the time and trouble to trek 35 km out of the City Centre.

The malkha stall is no 115, inside the hall.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Last minute change: Venue of the Bangalore Nature Bazaar is now

E-Zone Club
23/24 Outer Ring Road
near Marathalli Bridge
Bangalore 500 037

This is because the Palace Grounds is no longer available for selling events. We understand that the new venue is near Whitefields, and that though it is far from the city centre there are many IT offices nearby...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stock for Bangalore show

Stock being packed in Hyderabad for the Bangalore show... the hot new item being the wide-bordered natural dyed sarees. This time there is more of the plain natural dyed fabric too besides the regular favourites. Not as much indigo malkha as we would have liked, not enough to meet demand, but we are expanding production, with both the quantity of yarn and dyeing capacity increasing, so there should be enough to go round in the next few months.

Manjishta wide-bordered sari

Indigo is the only colour that is dyed cold, an absolutely fascinating process, will soon put up a description with pictures. You start with 3' deep earthen pots set into a bed of sheep dung, add the powdered indigo with lime & extract of boiled cassia tora seed, using waster filtered through sudda matti. The mixture takes about 10 days to ferment before it is ready to be used.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

opening of new malkha centre

The new centre was opened on August 10 by the outgoing CGM of NABARD.. Here Kannan, inventor of the pre-spinning machines, shows the CGM round...for more pics please see facebook page malkhafreedom.

Here we take a step further in our attempt at democracy in the workplace: for the first time all 24 operators will run all the machines, pre-spinning as well as spinning.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bamboo House exhibition

Our Hyderabad customers often comment on and admire the bamboo furniture & display racks in our shop... well, try and catch the Bamboo House show at the malkha shop, Aug 9-11:
Bamboo house

Exhibition & sale of bamboo furniture

Social entrepreneurs Prashant & Aruna work with tribal artisans
                  to make bamboo craft viable in the market

Thurs Aug 9-Sat Aug 11
10.30 am – 7 pm
Malkha shop
KVIB building [opp NMDC]
Masab Tank

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

flood in Hyderabad

Our basement shop was ankle deep in rain water last week, after the downpour in Hyderabad! Bailed out bucket by bucket, and back in business the same day..

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

the new malkha centre

Golak's wonderful building for the new centre is now ready, machinery & charkhas have moved in, 24 operators have been selected, production should start this month.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Officials at the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, were interested in the malkha concept, though doubtful of its reaching the middle market segment [which is what the Malkha Marketing Trust aims to do]. Recognition by the Ministry means that malkha can be sold through government outlets, and that malkha weavers will be eligible for a 10% yarn subsidy. Lets see how this works in practice.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pre-spinning machinery due at the new malkha production centre soon. 8-spindle power driven charkhas delivered. Lint purchase due. Operator selection among local people done.

The new unit is the first in 3 years.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Three malkha shows almost back to back: Bangalore, Lucknow & Hyderabad!

Here's the announcement for  Lucknow:

       Dates : 25th June, Monday  - 5th July, Thursday
       Time: 11 am to 8 pm
       Sanatkada, 130 J.C. Bose Road, Qaiser Bagh, 
       Contact: Vandana 9889616174

Hyderabad invitation follows shortly

Thursday, June 21, 2012

malkha in Bangalore

Malkha is the only fully integrated vertical handloom chain... in the world? Certainly in the country. At present buying lint in the market, but moving towards direct links with farmers growing organic cotton.

As of today demand is ahead of supply, but with two more production centres due to open in a few months, and indigo dyeing capacity to be increased, we hope to be selling more by the end of the year.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

malkha in Italy

More on Italian events:

The seminar 'Gandhi & the Textiles of Peace' at Pavia University,  organized by Professor Simonetta Casci at which academics Professor Mushirul Hasan, Director General of the National Archives of India, Dr Mukulika Banerjee from LSE, Dr Emma Tarlo from Goldsmith's, London, Dr Paolo Favero from University of Lisbon and others spoke, and Shripal Shah of Asal, Sally Holkar of Women Weaves & Uzramma from Malkha presented brief accounts of khadi and malkha. It was a chance to introduce malkha and the principles behind it to the wider academic community and we hope there will be more such occasions.

'Gandhi & Occupy Wall Street' was the subject of the lecture to the class of 2012 at Pavia University's post graduate course on Cooperation & Development. It drew parallels between Gandhi's & OWS protests against the greed & inequality of the mainstream economic system... remarkably similar protests, 80 years apart in time. Students were from 14 different countries, and interest in malkha was expressed by Lidet from Ethiopia, Nina from Macedonia and Christina from India.

The walls of the 13th century Chiesa di San Francesco in Como were a magnificent backdrop to the displays of khadi & malkha. The show featured the information panels on Gandhi made by Professor Casci, archive film on his life. It was sponsored by the Sindaco [Municipality]di Como, and opened by the Mayor. Rossana Vittani had done the beautiful display. The show was well received, seen by over a 1000 people, and had to be extended.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gandhi & the textiles of peace

You can imagine the surprise of going into this trendy boutique in Pavia, Italy to find the proprietor Marina, wearing a malkha shirt! We had gone in on seeing the beautiful things in the shop, some from the Indian sub-continent, to leave the Italian malkha brochure for her. Unfortunately Marina was not able to visit the Gandhi & the Textiles of Peace exhibition in which malkha was featured.

The second pic shows the poster of the show 'Gandhi e i tessitori della pace' outside the Basilica San Francesco, the site of the show in Como.

More to come...

Monday, April 30, 2012

more printed sarees

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Manchi Pustakam is back

Manchi Pustakam
Telugu Children’s books
Picture books, Stories, Novels, Songs, Games, Science
Thursday May 3 – Saturday May 5
10.30 am to 7.00 pm
Story telling every day at 5.30 pm
Basement, K.V.I.B
[opp NMDC bus stop]
Masab Tank, Hyderabad

Tel  23325548  +919490795548

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

... and here is the latest pic of the new centre, expected to be completed in a month. Framework for mud/tile roof in place. Frame of clerestory visible at left.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

energy-saving through malkha

Is there an energy audit for the country? Are industries rated according to it? Are there incentives for energy-saving or low-energy-use industries? How much of the energy planned for the future can be generated through ecologically sustainable means? How much of the energy in use today can be saved through various means? How can we cut down on transmission losses?

One of the great advantages of the malkha process of cotton textile production [besides the others] is that it uses much less energy than the conventional process to convert cotton fibre to cloth.

As Kannan's poster puts it  "If just 1.5% of India's cotton textile production were to come from Microspin-integrated [Malkha] units we would save more power that the capacity planned at Kudankulam." "At zero cost!" "With zero hazards!" the poster excitedly proclaims. And being broken up into small units, there is great scope for malkha production to convert entirely to alternative, renewable energy use, which might use solar, bio-mass, or others.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

..and the long-awaited sarees in plain colours.. but two of the indigo sarees have small rubbed patches, have to remember that real vegetable indigo can't take rubbing.

The pic of the red saree doesn't convey the gorgeous deep red of the original

Friday, April 6, 2012

Here is the introduction to a lecture on Gandhian philosophy & practice in industry[to be given at the Class in Cooperation & Development at University of Pavia next month]:

Gandhi promoted a synthesis of Hindu, Jain & Buddhist philosophies and was also influenced by Christian tradition*. He insisted that fundamental principles could & should be practically applied at all levels in all fields, personal, political, economic & social, and that a philosophy was valid only as far as it was practiced.

And when he read John Ruskin’ s Unto This Last Gandhi found the economic philosophy that he was looking for. Ruskin criticized economic theory as encouraging the materialistic and base needs of human beings and neglecting the importance of higher moral values and needs. While in his native land Ruskin’s ideas were dismissed as utopian & romantic, Gandhi & his economic collaborator Joseph Kumarappa used them to develop a clear, cogent and well-defined economic theory to strengthen the vast existing ‘village [pre-industrial revolution] industries’ of India. This was Gandhi’s philosophy in practice, and it became part of the struggle for the independence of India from colonial rule. In opposition to the colonial practice of introducing high-energy, centralized industries based on industrial revolution technologies, he strongly supported the revival of pre-industrial technologies – chief among them cotton textile production - but also a host of other artisan industries.

Gandhi’s ideas were in tune with the Anarcho-syndicalist philosophy of his day# but clashed with neo-classical economic theory, which is built around individual self-interest, and denies the possibility of any evolution to a higher social & moral plane of the submission of individual self-interest to the greater benefit of society in a word, unselfishness. For Gandhi, society too like the individual, must always strive to reach a higher evolutionary level.

* ‘My young mind tried to unify the teaching of the Gita, The Light of Asia, and the Sermon on the Mount’

from M K Gandhi 'The story of my experiments with truth'

# 'For the anarchist, freedom is not an abstract philosophical concept, but the vital concrete possibility for every human being to bring to full development all the powers, capacities, and talents with which nature has endowed him, and turn them to social account.

…For Rocker, "the problem that is set for our time is that of freeing man from the curse of economic exploitation and political and social enslavement"; and the method is not the conquest and exercise of state power, nor stultifying parliamentarianism, but rather "to reconstruct the economic life of the people from the ground up and build it up in the spirit of Socialism."

From Noam Chomsky ‘Notes on Anarchism’

.... comments welcome

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

... and here are some of our first printed sarees

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An exciting stage in our building... the brackets are up and the roof is in progress! We think it looks exceptionally pretty... your opinions welcome

Sunday, March 18, 2012

We are taking small-small steps towards ownership by the producers of the production centres. In our Khammam centre our recently appointed honorary consultants Sudheer & Jyoti attended a 4 hour meeting of the spinners & pre-spinning machine operators to introduce the idea of the responsibilities of collective ownership to the 23 spinners working with that centre.

Here are two hastily taken pictures of the meeting.

Who's who: In the picture above Sudheer makes a point, Jyoti to his left.. To his right are three representatives of DCYT [another leans on the column]. In the lower picture, starting from the left, Lakshmiamma, senior spinner who has taught several friends & neighbours including Shaheen, [standing, right]. On Lakshmiamma's left is another spinner, then 2 women machine operators, 2 male operators, and the 'manager' of the pre-spinning unit.

Monday, March 12, 2012

... and another pic

Here is what the new centre looks like now. Some of the young people who joined as unskilled labour have been taught building skills, and we hope they will continue to work with us on the next centres too, either as masons, or perhaps as machine operators?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sridevi Gottipati has made a rather dashing sari out of malkha fabrics with some trimmings!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Kalamkari show at the malkha shop is doing well, probably better than the artist expected. Most of the artworks were mounted & displayed on bamboo hangers, which gave the malkha shop an extremely lively look. By the end of the second day about two thirds of them have been sold, and we expect good sales today too after a lovely article in today's Hindu by Sangeetha Devi Dundoo.

Monday, February 27, 2012

After we posted the picture of the malkha baby we got a call from Priyanka in the US, to say that she wore sarees there, but didn't like the new trend towards the gauzy ones worn these days. She wants coloured malkha sarees and we have promised to make them for her. Coincidentally [isn't it strange how often it happens] not one but two customers came into the shop the same day asking for the same thing!

Actually coloured sarees are on order and we are also planning to print some.

The building to house the new malkha centre has now reached the exciting stage of erecting the trusses to hold the roof, and by the time you read this most of the 13 in the main building should be in place. Note the brilliant traditional technique of load distribution which enables low-cost, low resource, long-life ... and beautiful...structures.

Now that the problem of teakwood is resolved work on the main beam and doors & windows can begin.

Though at present there no buildings nearby, our centre will eventually be closely surrounded by cement-box neighbours [sigh] since our plot of land is quite small.

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