this is a booklet i had written for my interim course at Srishti. i had gone to Wayanad and studied the working of a NGO, the biodiversity of that geographical region and the aborigines of those parts.
SRISHTI SCHOOL OF ART,DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY INTERIM COURSE FIELD TRIP DIARY REPORT AMEESHI GOENKA FST 101
ITENERARY:DAY 1-M.S. Swaminathan Foundation (Wayanad)Uravu1st micro industry2nd micro industryLunch at a home-stayTrek to see different species of bambooTempleUravu bamboo nurseryDAY 2-1ST cluster (Neravu)2nd cluster (Unarvu)Lunch (Kerala thali)3rd cluster (Sneha)4th cluster (Soubhagya)DAY 3-Edakkal caveLunch at New TajHeritage museumWaterfallDAY 4-Trekking behind M.S. Swaminathan FoundationLunch at M.S. Swaminathan FoundationKanavu (indigenous school)DAY 5-UravuEnroute to Bangalore
My interim course at Srishti needed me to go toWayanad district which is on the border ofKarnataka and Kerala to understand the workingof a NGO that deals with bamboo craft, theaborigines of that region and the biodiversity ofthat geographical region.OVERVIEW:URAVUWe went to Uravu, which is a legally constituted non-governmental organization (NGO) started by a group ofpeople in the year 1996. Uravu seeks to achieve smallscale changes directly through projects, product ordersand supporting self-help groups. They mobilize financialresources, natural resources, other materials andsalaried personnel to create localized programs in thefield. They apply to the government and organizationsfor grants and contracts in order to raise money fortheir projects. Uravu trains indigenous and other localmen and women in bamboo craft, and empowers themto work on their
own or continue under them after the training period.They are paid every month based on the number ofdays they work. Uravu heads six clusters and renderssupport to several others. These clusters are mainlyself-help groups, like Sneha, Neravu andSoubhagya, which are based in the Wayanad district.Uravu is dependent on the government for funds andprojects. Uravu has a finance team, a designing team,marketing company and trained labourers. The mainaim of Uravu is employment generation.Uravu has its own bamboo nursery and also has thepermission to cut bamboo from different parts ofWayanad in a sustainable manner and buy them fromthe Government at highly subsidized rates. Uravufunctions every day except Sundays and festivalholidays. To make a product they cut the bamboo,process it to prevent fungal growth, dry it, cut theminto required pieces and prepare reeds, then they makethe product, polish it, price them, package, anddistribute them to various places all over Indiaaccording to the approved orders. To get a productmade by the clusters under them, they provide
the processed bamboo, polish the end products,price, package and then distribute them to differentplaces. Uravu is a trust itself and also has an Uravumarketing company linked to it to facilitate marketresearch and analysis, pricing, packaging,transportation and sales. Uravu as a trust uses thesubsidies provided by the Government and asseparate entity (company) helps the Governmentwith various projects, such as the promotion of eco-tourism. Getting a live experience of working withbamboo in a bamboo factory was amazing, a lot ofwork and tiring.CLUSTERS (SHG)An SHG is usually composed of 10–20 local womenthat make small regular savings contributions over afew months until there is enough capital in the groupto begin lending. Funds may then be lent back to themembers or to others in the village for any purpose.The clusters under Uravu receive orders and rawmaterials, capital goods, training and completesupport from Uravu in every matter whereas thosethat are not
under Uravu may or may not receive orders fromthem but can ask Uravu for assistance if necessary.The women working in the clusters work forapproximately 7 to 8 hours per day, six days aweek. They get holidays for festivals and one paidholiday for Onam. Two members from eachcluster attend the exhibitions that are held all yearround in different parts of India. They are paid₹ to ₹ per day, depending on the product 120 180they produce and the quantity thereof, paid everymonth counting the number of days they work.Each member is required to have mandatoryhealth insurance through the village panchayat.The women working in these clusters do not takeany work home. None of them throw away anywaste materials because what is waste for themmay be useful to another cluster. Children of everymember of the cluster are educated till 12thstandard at least. Each cluster produces only oneobject at a time and believes in division andspecialization of labor. The members of the clusterusually stay near their work place.
Neravu cluster started with 20 people but nowthere are only 19 working women. They usereed bamboo and elephant bamboo to makeflower vases, candle stands, frames and lampshades. As and when they finish the productionof one order they immediately process the nextorder. They are liable to Uravu for everything.Every week each member deposits ₹ into50Malabar Gramin Bank.Unarvu cluster was started by 18 people fiveyears ago but now has only 12 working laborers.The women left mainly due to dust allergies.They were free to make their own designs andimplement their own ideas in making bamboojewellry. They use elephant bamboo for thatpurpose, which they buy in bulk every monthwith the money they deposit in the banks everyweek. Even though they are not under Uravudirectly, the polishing of their ornaments iscarried out by Uravu.Sneha SHG was started by 15 people but 5 ofthem left on account of marriage. They are
not directly under Uravu but receive orders andraw materials from them. They are also free toprocess orders from third parties. They mainlymake utensils and photo frames. Uravu performsthe polishing of their products.Soubhagya cluster has about 15 members workingon various objects like trays, spice boxes, bottles,wall hangings and pencil stands. Each memberdeposits ₹20 every week into the Malabar GraminBank. It is mandatory for them.WATERFALL, MUSEUM AND EDAKKAL CAVEThe Soochipara waterfall, tribal museum, andEdakkal cave in Wayanad were amazing, howeverthe surrounding areas could have beenmaintained better. At the waterfall, we had to payan entry fee and digital cameras were prohibited.People were allowed to bathe in it and there wasan old security guard helping everyone. Thoughsome of the local people were helpful they didn’tappear that way. There was only one man madesitting area. For some
reason the trees had really smooth trunks. We werethere to understand the biodiversity of the region. Wehad to buy an entry ticket for Edakkal cave, payseparately for the digital cameras and we had to payfor a sticker to stick to our plastic water bottles whichwould be refunded on our way out since it was aplastic free zone. It was a steep climb to the cave andwe were not permitted to take pictures from our cellphones. There were guards everywhere. The cave isknown for its rock-cut carvings from the Stone Ageera. There was one carving behind the stairs whichwas not open to public. The tribal museum waslocated in the town and also required an entry ticket.It was a small museum with ancient local artifacts andbamboo work.BIODIVERSITY TREKWe were taken for a short trek on the hill behind theM.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation. A localscientist was our guide who spoke only in Malyalam.The land belongs to the aborigines of that region.They had to fight for their land but now it’s legallytheirs. They
They don’t buy food from the marketsinstead dig and pluck them from theforest. The forest is loaded withmedicinal plants, different species ofspiders and lovely flowers, like thepeacock flower, and butterflies.KANAVUWe also visited an unregistered tribalschool named Kanavu which wasstarted by Joy Mon Baby locatedabout 20km from Kalpetta. Thatschool is run by the tribal families.The elders teach folk music, martialarts, history and other subjects whichare learnt or practiced by kids andteenagers. They go for exchangeprograms all over India to learnpottery, weaving, agriculture, etc.That land was bought was Vistar in1993 for the adivasis of
that region for cultural and educational reasons. Vistar used to provide for their exchange programs and other expenses but they stopped doing so in 1996. The aborigines have to carry out their own expenses now. They perform music and dance in troops in order to collect money. The children there start working at an early age and hence are exposed to substance abuse at that age. They also have rehabilitation center for the aborijines who are addicted to substance abuse to have a fairly better future.ISSUES, REASONING AND SOLUTIONS:URAVU AND CLUSTERSAt the moment, Uravu is facing a shortage of funds and skilled employees. Some of the women leave onaccount of marriage, health reasons, family issues or they migration to the urban area. Given their existingsituation, they should first complete their pending projects and orders, consider diversifying their productrange, possibly invite educational institutions for bamboo workshops and volunteer programs, providebetter health facilities by supplying work-suits
and masks to their workers, and they could have some women work from home, like painting on cutpieces of bamboo to make jewellery or taking reeds from the main work place, bringing them home andprocessing a small order. Uravu being an NGO should hold fundraisers in different parts of India, inexhibitions or workshops. Bamboo craft and furniture is the next big market after wooden craft andfurniture and their main target should be the general public. They need to get recognition by makingtheir products more appealing as per the latest fashion, giving them to stores as consignments or incommon exhibitions and melas, and having interactive sessions with the people. They need to spread theword about the usefulness of bamboo, the history of bamboo craft and its future market. Since bamboois a highly versatile material they should come up with innovative ideas. The experts should do someresearch and see if bamboo and technology can be linked and, for starters, they should make bambootoys and game items. If bamboo can be linked with technology it would take the whole industry to adifferent level. Uravu should consider becoming a brand name and expanding beyond Wayanad so as toreach people with higher income level to increase their profits. They could cut down on their packagingexpenses by hiring a kabadiwala and getting paper from houses at the cheapest rate possible andrecycling that paper. Uravu should allow its artisans to design and make their own products once in awhile so that they take pride in what they create. If they receive appreciation then they would feel moreconfident about their work. After getting a hands-on experience of working with bamboo my idea ofthinking of the bamboo products to be over-priced has completely changed.
WATERFALL, MUSEUM ANDEDAKKAL CAVEThe waterfall did not have enoughsecurity guards and lacked restrooms.Considering that they have space andcould offer more employment, theyshould make pay and use toilets near thewaterfall and some changing rooms.They must have more than a singlesecurity guard for safety reasons as thereare several unsavoury individualsattempting to swim there. The heritagemuseum requires English speakingguide, and is not as appealing as it canbe. By increasing their entry ticket by ₹2to ₹4 they could arrange for an Englishspeaking guide or train a local toconverse in English. They could have asouvenir store to make it moreprofitable. They could also make it moreappealing by improving their lightingsystem or having interactive sessions.The hidden
carving in the Edakkal cave should be allowed forpublic viewing. If the concern is of someonedamaging it then they should build an enclosurearound it or allow only one person at a time to viewit. The profit margins of these places are quite low,and may be improved by increasing the ticket prices.Also, the tickets themselves may be made moreattractive, so as to double as a keepsake for tourists.This would also help in the word-of-mouthpromotion of these places.BIODIVERSITY TREKThe trek in the natural forest surrounding was fun.Since the forest is abundant with flora and fauna,and the land belongs to the aborigines. They haveextensive knowledge of the medicinal properties ofthe local flora, which they could use to make thenatural medicines for themselves and sell the excessin the market, thereby increasing the level ofincome. However, they should practice sustainablecultivation of these plants in order to ensure futureavailabilityIt was nice to see the rubber, tea
and coffee plantations and acres of paddy fields that we walkedacross. Pepper, there, is a commercial spice and honey is alsosold in large quantities. Banana is an important part of the dietof people in Kerela and hence there were huge bananaplantations too. Eucalyptus and lemon grass are also available inplenty and well commercialized.KANAVUKanavu faces problems with getting students to learn, acquiring teachersand raising funds. Since they are already performing in troupeslocally, they could expand that by going to neighbouring towns and gettingrecognition. If they were registered and open to foreign companies forgrants they could approach an MNC for donations (such as KFC, whichadds ₹ to each bill as a donation to a charitable foundation). The elders 5of the society should take more serious initiatives towards the school’sgrowth by holding cultural fests and motivating their students tolearn, dream big and follow their dreams. They could attract morechildren by providing better facilities and making them do more innovativeand creative things.