17 September 2006


Nearly 20 women self-help groups, identified by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), put up stalls at Kumaran Anugraha Marriage Hall, Chennai on Thursday September 14 at an exhibition which will run until September 23.

The ladies from Tiruvannamalai and other Districts, came with items from their native places. The goods range from a wide variety of jute products from Tiruvannamalai, soft toys, agarbathi (incense) and decorative items from Kancheepuram; saris from Madurai; fancy terracotta items and dolls from Villupuram and Dindigul; wood carvings from Sivaganga and quantities of pickles and spices from Namakkal and Yelagiri.

NABARD, spent Rs.109,000/- (US$2,400) to organise the display festival at Chennai. The Chief Manager of the Exhibition stated at the fair's inauguration that NABARD gives funding and a marketing platform at such Trade Festivals to women groups.

An organisation set up by a German group called Shantimalai Trust has been vigorous in establishing successful women self-help groups in the Tiruvannamalai District for over 20 years. Many of the self-help group items are exported to the U.S. and Europe and include: cotton bedding, quilts, clothes, embroidered saris, handmade paper, ethnic dolls, wood engravings etc. The products are of the highest quality and are sold in superior overseas outlets.

Anything to help empower women in this country is to be welcomed. Sadly this is still a chavinistic country where women are firmly pushed to the side or at least into the kitchen! If you travel about in the evenings through any village you will find the gents with their beedies and chai (homemade cigarette and tea) at the tea-stalls chatting outside while the ladies (including very young girls of 7 or 8) carry home huge pots of water from the village water pumps.

Even on constructions sites; it is the women who do the dirty, hard labour like breaking and carrying stones and sand, while men train and work in the more comfortable, highly paid spots i.e. plumber, carpenter. Sadly it is virtually impossible for a lady to break into training for such work.

Definitely life and opportunities have improved for woman in the Cities but not so in the villages; and after all India is still a country of a million villages!

1 comment:

Divyakka said...

It is exactly as you say. Though some improvement (including the mentalities of women) is seen in the cities and among very well educated women, still most of the country is villages where the same old things are happening and the same old mentality and routine is going on, day after day. And this is 2006 - why do most villages in India still not have water supply in the houses?! And why do most village Indians still go off to the fields or tanks or on the roadside to go to the bathroom? Of course, it is because they do not have money to build them in their houses and huts.