Crafts revivalist and textile conservationist Madhu Jain among 38 others awarded with Nari Shakti Puraskar by President Ram Nath Kovind
On March 8, celebrated as the International Women’s Day, the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, conferred the prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskar 2017 to 39 outstanding individuals and path-breaking organisations who have contributed to women’s empowerment. The award carries a certificate and cash award of Rs 1 lakh. The awards ceremony, hosted at Rashtrapati Bhawan, attracted a large gathering of awardees and distinguished guests.
Among the recipients of this award was crafts revivalist and textile conservationist Madhu Jain, whose work is embedded in a strong economic purpose. Tapping rural weaver communities through NGOs and Self-Help Groups, her work in eco-fashion and sustainable production is revitalising artisanal livelihoods across India by ensuring markets for weavers’ generationally-honed skills. Jain has also been instrumental in innovating new weaves and in reviving textiles and embroidery—notably, Nakshikantha and Dhaka Muslin—that were lost to India post partition.
Over the last 15 years, Jain’s experiments with alternative fibres led her to bamboo. With India being the second-largest bamboo producing country in the world, she realised that the country is well positioned to grab global ascendency in bamboo-yarn production and in changing the lives of bamboo farmers. In 2003, at the 7th Bamboo Congress in Delhi, Jain was instrumental in formally introducing this eco-friendly fibre to India. More recently, in 2017, she unveiled her path-breaking Bamboo-Silk Ikat textile, the first textile of its kind in the world, which ably demonstrates how the fashion industry can strive towards sustainability. Bamboo textile, other than being biodegradable, leaves a negligible ecological footprint when compared to factory-produced cloth, is UV protective, and has anti-bacterial properties. This extraordinary textile hasthe potential to change the face of the way we understand the evolution of textiles.
Jain said, “This award is much more than a personal validation of my work in the indigenous, organic textiles sector and my environmental concerns in producing textiles that leave the smallest carbon footprint. It is a formal ratification of the invaluable skills of India’s master weavers and craftspeople whose artistry has been handed down to them generationally. I will continue to strive to revive ancient weaving techniques and to ensure livelihoods for India’s artisanal sector.”
Sunil Sethi, President, Fashion Design Council of India, stated how proud he was that the fashion fraternity is being acknowledged and is being given its due for its work in the sustainable fashion space. He said, “Madhu’s work leads by example. The future of sustainable fashion is immense; such innovations are important for the environment. Every advancement in this sector benefits our weavers and karigars, and I am confident that this textile too shall prove to be an employment booster.”
Dr Anita Bharadwaj, Dr Arti Kashyap, Sheela Balaji, Rekha Mishra, Jayamma Bhyandari, Ambica Beri, Chirom Indira and Gargi Gupta among others have also been honoured by the President.
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