Antaran initiative, bringing best practices of design education and digital literacy to weavers in India
Employing over seven million families in India, the crafts sector is the country’s largest source of employment after agriculture. The sector also has great economic importance in terms of foreign exchange earnings. Despite this, it is grappling with problems such as inability to produce high-quality market-driven artefacts and limited access to domestic and export markets. Handloom weavers, particularly the younger ones, are drifting away from the sector at an alarming pace, thus painting a not-so-happy picture.
A unique industry collaborative effort promises to bring together the best practices of design education, digital literacy and business skills for weavers. Recently, Tata Trusts and Microsoft India signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly rejuvenate the handloom clusters in the eastern and northeastern parts of the country. Through this collaboration, the initiatives will leverage each other’s strengths to provide business and communication skills, design education and digital literacy to handloom weavers so that they may build a sustainable future.
Microsoft’s ReWeave initiative helps preserve traditional weaving forms by upskilling, design, marketing, and entrepreneurship training besides creating sustainable livelihood options. Project ReWeave has implemented a new e-commerce platform, digital empowerment centres and a new design curriculum for Rajouli, Chottuppal, Pochampally, Naryanpet and Gadwal weaving clusters of Telangana, and Warangal and Siddipet clusters will soon join them. Microsoft will enable digital training through Project Sangam, a Microsoft Azure-based learning management system. This initiative provides necessary training and tools to weaving communities to help realise their full potential.
Tata Trusts’ initiative ‘Antaran’ aims to rejuvenate ailing handloom clusters through a programme which will nurture artisans as designers and entrepreneurs. It has initiated intensive work in Odisha, Assam and Nagaland. The programme will benefit 3,000 artisans involved in pre-loom, on-loom and post loom processes, impacting the livelihood of weavers in six weaving clusters in the states.
“Our partnership with Tata Trusts will help reach down to the grass-root level of weaver clusters and train them, hence building a digitally inclusive society. We aim to use our Project Sangam to empower the weavers across India so that they can adopt and deploy digital tools to improve their craft,” said Anil Bhansali, MD, Microsoft India (R&D) and corporate VP – Cloud & Enterprise.
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