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NIFT touch for local weaves

Jorhat, May 18: The National Institute of Fashion and Technology may be asked to add commercial value to the ethnic designs woven by the women of Mising and Ahom communities at the New Sonowal village near the Assam-Nagaland border.

T. Ramasami, a Padma Bhushan and former secretary of the department of science and technology, who was here recently, said he would facilitate a connection between the NIFT and the weavers so that they would know which were the designs and colour schemes which would have market value.

About 1,500 weavers from 12 villages in the Bongaon-New Sonowal area will be given training on modern looms, sewing and embroidery machines at the common facility centre on weaving and textile product manufacturing set up in the village, under a scheme funded by the department of science and technology.

The population of the area mostly comprises people from Majuli and some other parts who have been displaced by floods and erosion and have been rehabilitated here or migrated on their own.

The facility set up under the Council of Science and Technology for Rural India Centre is the brainchild of Ramasami, who felt that the per capita income of an economically weaker section of society could be bettered if science and technology was applied bottom up instead of from the top.

“Usually when projects are taken up, a scientist feels that this is what the populace wants and works on it. However, the new knowledge may not percolate down to the people. Here the weavers themselves said they would like to add to their weaving skills because it was their cloth and designs which were sold,” he said.

“Science is geopolitical. An apple anywhere in the world falls to the ground. Yet, science and technology has affected the lives of people differently in different parts of the world. To bridge this divide, the idea has been applied to make science and technology work for the people in a way that they want it to work so that they can raise their income levels. Our aim is just to support and guide,” he said.

“It is expected that this centre will inspire more such centres to come up in nearby areas till an entire area grows with different work divisions revolving around weaving like stitching, tailoring, packaging, transporting and marketing the merchandise to distant places,” he said.

The only other centre to be so commissioned by the department in the country is at IIT Chennai where electronics is used to create solar panels and villages in the vicinity make these panels and then sell them in cities and towns.

Here, the scheme is being implemented by the North East Institute of Science and Technology, in collaboration with a local NGO, Society for North East Handmade Paper Development (SNEHPAD), which will disburse the training to the weavers and try to create a market linkage.

Prakash Thakur, secretary, SNEHPAD, said value addition to the traditional motifs by way of embroidery and modern day designs would be taught to the weavers.

Dipankar Neog, scientist, general engineering division, CSIR-NEIST, said a fashion show with models draped in the ethnic weaves at a trade fair had drawn the attention of a few stalls selling clothes made by indigenous people.

This had prompted Ramasami to comment that he had an idea to connect them to NIFT for an all-India market.

Neog said the centre would finally taste success when weaves from here would drape even models at the Lakme Fashion Week and Bollywood stars.