The face of fading skill and small scale cottage industry
Ekambaram is a blind craftsman. He weaves chair bases and back rest with nylon strips. The contemporary generation would be wondering what is it? Weaving chair base and back rests? Unable to relate to it. The commoners who were born post mid 70’s would be able to relate to what it is. The iron framed chairs where the base will be woven by white nylon strips. Those days it is mostly the visually challenged men and women who would take up such tasks of weaving. Though visually challenged, there is no compromise on the quality of the weaving. I have personally seen visually challenged most couples would be assigned the task of weaving worn out chairs in Government offices. It was a good initiative of the Govt of Tamil Nadu to enable such craftsmen to be engaged and earn a livelihood.
With the advent of modernisation, the demand for such craftsmanship has if not vanished, almost dwindled down. This leaves with a lurking question in our mind - what would Ekambaram and his wife who is also visually challenged do for a living? Let this scenario be here as it is and we shall come to it a bit later. I have seen fancy outlets which sell furniture where the same type of chairs woven with nylon strips with a modern twist and remodeled into a sofa with distressed wooden frame look. The emergence of new set of entrepreneurs who use ancient skills and designs and fit into contemporary styles and make over sold for a bomb. This leaves me with more questions as to who the designer is, the carpenter who worked on the wood, the weaver who weaved the chair. Has the services of any visually challenged craftsman been used here to recreate the makeover? If yes, fine. Most welcome, if not. Can we re-look into an entirely different concept of making a difference in our social set up to create a positive impact?
Cry out to the companies with CSR initiatives - can any work go into embracing and engaging such challenged individuals to enable them to come back into main stream by re - employing them to reap mutual benefits? It is here that Ekambaram and his wife can lend support in enabling our business.
The whole process involves just a little amount of time to connect resources and align them to meet demand and supply chain of potentials, skills and latent resources. Providing this connect may earn you nothing but you do not even loose any except time and inner will to emotionally connect yourself to connect resources in turn thereby creating social and economic impact in the social web of our society. If it makes a difference in the life of even a single person like Ekambaram, the effort is not futile.