Igniting ‘fellow’ young minds

My many questions thatonly met with half-baked answers, while studying and working in the fashion andtextile industry, were fully addressed by the career milestone that was the YoungIndia Fellowship.

While on the one hand itdealt with broad topics such as the key people in India’s freedom anddevelopment, leadership, literature, culture, heritage and the socio-economicalstate of rural and urban India, the other focused on nuanced subjects like mathematicalthinking, art appreciation, the Gandhian ideology, group dynamics, gender andsexuality. The icing on the cake was ELM – Elementary Learning Module – which Icentered around phulkari and itscurrent existence in Punjab, with a foresight of collaborating with people workingon authentic phulkari, whilesupporting social and environmental causes.

The Fellowship helpedput to rest many a burning concern I had.

1.  Why is the craftindustry so unorganised?

2.  Why are the peopleinvolved poor and marginalised?

3.  What are the factorsthat led to such a sorry state?

4.  How to contributetowards its growth?

5.  What are the socialnorms that dictate certain castes or communities to practise a particular craft?

6.  What environmentalfactors were taken into account in the past, and what are the ones beingfocused on now?

7.  What factors from largergovernment policies and societal development have affected or changed the olderpractices?

8.  What are its consequencesand what relief measures have been in action?

9.  How is it impacting thesociety and the environment now?

10.              And above all, what I as a designer /manufacturer/ buyer, can doto improve the future of the craft, people and environment.

The great part about the Fellowship was the diverse, international faculty that mentored us, and that the students belonged to different backgrounds and ethnicities. Though majority of them were engineers, we all had our ideas about doing something with purpose. That resulted in a wonderful melting pot of ideation, debate and evolution.

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