Blog

MEET THE ARTIST – Shellie Singh Rana

Here is another inspiring story of an Indha woman whose amazing works of creativity is now a part of many of Indha’s products. I would like to introduce her as an artist who expresses joie de vivre in her paintings.

Shellie Singh Rana, my old time friend was all game to join us, for her beautiful paintings were to become an integral part of the eclectic designs of Indha products. Most importantly, she was happy in becoming an INDHA- PRENEUR. Shellie lives in Gurgaon with her husband who is a Pilot & they have two sons. Painting is her passion and Shellie is full of life and enthusiasm that is reflected in her work. I knew she would love the idea of her work being used in various products like Cushion Covers, Diaries & Tote bags. She was all for generating work for the Indha women who come from underserved background.

Shellie Rana Singh is a renowned contemporary artist whose refreshingly colorful abstract paintings are a joyful depiction of the festivity and frolic of metropolitan living.She channeled these thoughts to canvas and her paintings are resplendent with colors of joy, life, festivities and vivaciousness that best describes the effervescent place.

Her widespread popularity as an artist is due to her captivating techniques reflecting resplendent splashes of color that suggest a pandemonium of activities in a typical metropolitan lifestyle and a buoyant optimism of reality and imagination.

Shellie’s exhibitions are a sell-out and her paintings are conversational pieces adorning many modern homes and offices. I had my fair share of friendships and their impact in my life. Shellie’s is one friendship that will remain close to my heart because she is a true friend who shares my ideals and is a part of the initiative that I have dedicated my life to. This blog is aimed at bringing to the world, budding entrepreneurs and latent talent of many women I meet every day across India, who strive to emerge as winners in their life’s fight. Here’s to more women wearing Indha – the ring of responsibility – like a crown of honour.

Capt. Indraani Singh
Senior AirIndia Pilot:Founder/Managing Trustee-Literacy India
Founder-Indha Craft

 

Read more...

The ladies of the ring…. of responsibility

It’s not easy to come up with a blog which people will read and enjoy.  I found that the doodle of ” from the horse’s mouth” would draw a comic curiosity & add a flavor to INDHA`s stories. It was almost ten odd years ago at our center at Village Daulatabad, while sitting with the women who were being trained on sewing & tailoring, I got into a dialogue with them about how would most of them use their skill for revenue generation. I found it was not easy for them. First of all they were bound by conservative norms, where women were not allowed to go beyond the village boundaries and were governed by strict societal norms. Of course there was a big issue of public transport and since I was not in a position to provide transportation for all of them, I just had to do something innovative. However, even after days of thinking I was unable to find a ready solution. On a lark, in my next meeting I spoke to the group about setting up this entity which could provide a platform for the women to work together to create products to sell using their traditional craft skills, without leaving their villages. In turn, we would find ways to sell their products. In addition, this entity would enable them to become micro entrepreneurs by enabling them with tools of trade. This idea was greeted by a whole lot of excitement and energy which was a great booster even though I wasn’t quite sure of where we were headed.

The question then came up as to what should we name this new entity? I noticed women walking in with their “MATKA” (pot) on their heads, something they still do in the villages to carry water. That intrigued me. Though I wasn’t sure “MATKA” sounded appropriate, but the cushion ring on their heads on which women carried their load which was called “INDHA” seemed to ring a bell. To me it denoted “Women carrying their own responsibilities” & having their own identity. It seemed a perfect fit and thus was born “INDHA” – the platform that allowed women to translate their home grown skills into beautiful products that could be sold. At that point in time, I didn’t know whether I would be able to live up to the magnitude of the responsibility I had taken on but seeing the energy of the women and their hope I couldn’t let go. India has many villages where there are numerous such women, bound by restrictions, limited by what they can do and yet they seek answers of a similar nature. With such a humble start, I never thought I will bring so many village women, (have lost count), under this “Ring of Responsibility”.
Indha and a Pilot, which is my day job, is an odd combination. However, I am a firm believer of the “Mysterious Magic of the Universe”. Therefore, I moved on with the belief that some good would come out of INDHA. I was proven right. A decade later, INDHA has gone on to become a household name amongst the women who create these beautiful handcrafted products and their buyers.

Beyond the evolution of INDHA, I also wanted to share with you a story of motivation and the birth of an INDHA PRODUCT.  In 2007, Moushumi, my dear friend, got married and relocated to Delhi.  Moushumi was born and brought up in West Bengal with a Bengali Father & a Sri Lankan mother. Her demeanor was such that we use to call her “Dada” that meant overall “Boss”, but she was nothing of that sort. She was mild, pleasant and always smiling. She joined us at INDHA, believing in what we did and wanted to do her best for the organization and the women who formed it. She loved dabbling with new designs, what more could be done with the skills the women brought to the table. For some reason she loved Table “Runners” – those colorful pieces of fabric we use to light up our side boards or tables was something we couldn’t miss . We went far and wide shopping for raw material, finding new designs, creating funky runners and many other home furnishing products. She brought in an innovative concept of a shop within a restaurant and set up an INDHA shop within a popular restaurant, “100 feet” in Indiranagar, run by her brother in law and sister. And she never gave up on telling me how INDHA could continue to innovate and grow. Moushumi did all this while life kept testing her in more ways than one specially her personal life. And in a little more than a year later suddenly one day, she left us forever. I was numb with shock for days. However, just like Moushumi never gave up on INDHA, the INDHA women also never gave up on her. This year on her birthday, which is today, we are proud to dedicate our new range of home furnishings to “Dada” – the brave girl who we loved and miss every day. Our latest range of furnishings is called “Moushumi”- OUR SALUTE to her and the memories she created for INDHA and our women.

In the last decade, I found many women like Moushami who are home- makers and have the aspiration, energy and talent to do something more. They are engaged in part time  businesses, running food stalls , creating jewelry, designing clothes in between whatever else they need to do. Their courage, interest and determination makes them perfect members of the INDHA family, a platform where they could use their talents of design, art, craft and other creative skills to earn a livelihood without upsetting the apple cart of their daily lives. I encourage them to reach out to us and be part of this journey which could help them and INDHA bloom and grow.

We all have our share of serious stories, funny stories, sad stories. Always a mixed bag of experiences. Through this blog I hope to encourage others of our generation to create other INDHAs or be a part of this mission like Moushumi was and continue it after me. This blog is also for many latent entrepreneurs like the women I meet everyday across India whose lives are similar to those who first made INDHA and are bravely trying to find a solution to not let life beat them down. Here’s to more women wearing INDHA- the ring of responsibility- like a crown of honor.

Capt. Indraani Singh
Senior AirIndia Pilot:Founder/Managing Trustee-Literacy India
Founder-Indha Craft

 

Read more...

Meet The Artist – Sheetal Sharma

Studying what a child is inclined towards, is a field of research in itself. At Literacy India, I had the golden chance of working with children coming from heterogeneous backgrounds. Some children have an eternal love connection with busy streets and the fast life, probably because it gives them an adrenaline rush to just be in that kind of environment. Most of these children coming from disadvantaged backgrounds are invariably pushed by fate to do menial work for survival.

In India, especially in regions where the village folks migrate to the cities in search of food, shelter and a better future, the societal strata pushes them down by depriving better opportunities for a dignified occupation. This gives rise to rampant child labor and being stuck in this vicious vortex for eternity.

Literacy India has been conducting many sessions with such children and their families in order to understand the reasons why they took such hard decisions. Over these sessions, it was evident that they were silencing their conscience by repeatedly falling into unethical ways to earn money and ensure security. This was good intentions seen in bad light. However, DNA is the differentiating factor that determines how the person reacts to situations. My assumption is strongly backed by our history that shows that the DNA is clearly an inheritance.

In the midst of all this chaos of thoughts, Sheetal Sharma, one bright student of our Pathshala Center at Bijwasan put my thoughts to a standstill. This is a star student in the making, who stood first in the AIEEE aptitude exam. She was a natural at mathematics but her passion leaned towards art.

Upon investigation, I found that Sheetal inherited her genes from her father, a talented photographer who gave in to societal pressure and worked in an automobile workshop to earn a living. As Sheetal completed schooling, her relatives pressurized her parents to deny Sheetal of her chance to pursue engineering. Sheetal’s parents had the intelligence to make their own decisions and empowered her to pursue what comes her way. Sheetal took the bold step to accept a scholarship from Literacy India and took up the Arts course at College of Arts. I stumbled upon this soft spoken girl’s painting and was blown away by the sheer brilliance.

Beyond the evolution of INDHA, I also wanted to share with you a story of motivation and the birth of an INDHA PRODUCT.  In 2007, Moushumi, my dear friend, got married and relocated to Delhi.  Moushumi was born and brought up in West Bengal with a Bengali Father & a Sri Lankan mother. Her demeanor was such that we use to call her “Dada” that meant overall “Boss”, but she was nothing of that sort. She was mild, pleasant and always smiling. She joined us at INDHA, believing in what we did and wanted to do her best for the organization and the women who formed it. She loved dabbling with new designs, what more could be done with the skills the women brought to the table. For some reason she loved Table “Runners” – those colorful pieces of fabric we use to light up our side boards or tables was something we couldn’t miss . We went far and wide shopping for raw material, finding new designs, creating funky runners and many other home furnishing products. She brought in an innovative concept of a shop within a restaurant and set up an INDHA shop within a popular restaurant, “100 feet” in Indiranagar, run by her brother in law and sister. And she never gave up on telling me how INDHA could continue to innovate and grow. Moushumi did all this while life kept testing her in more ways than one specially her personal life. And in a little more than a year later suddenly one day, she left us forever. I was numb with shock for days. However, just like Moushumi never gave up on INDHA, the INDHA women also never gave up on her. This year on her birthday, which is today, we are proud to dedicate our new range of home furnishings to “Dada” – the brave girl who we loved and miss every day. Our latest range of furnishings is called “Moushumi”- OUR SALUTE to her and the memories she created for INDHA and our women.

Now in her final year, I proposed that she work for Indha and she jumped at the chance! We facilitated her wish to give something back to the society she came from. This girl keeps amazing us all with her paintings that reflect deep thoughts seamlessly translated on the canvas. One wonders about her family, her background and her upbringing every time her works feature in our products. Her paintings generate work for Indha women and she is a true blue Indha-preneur. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so many creative people working together for a greater goal. This blog is aimed at bringing to the world, budding entrepreneurs and latent talent of many women I meet every day across India, who strive to emerge as winners in their life’s fight. Here’s to more women wearing Indha – the ring of responsibility – like a crown of honor.

Capt. Indraani Singh
Senior AirIndia Pilot:Founder/Managing Trustee-Literacy India
Founder-Indha Craft
Read more...

Indha Craft Bags – for Catriona’s friends in Paris!

 

Catriona Dempster, learnt about Indha Craft last year and was quite curious about the organization & its work. A Team Director & Manager at Kuoni Paris, her company’s primary tourism destination happens to be India. As a result, Catriona visits our country frequently and made up her mind to visit Indha Craft’s main centre, on her next trip.

Ever since its inception, Indha has joined hands with numerous corporate agencies, donors and partners. One of our most eminent clients and supporters, Kuoni, is a leading global travel and destination management services company. The group generated a turnover of CHF 5.5 billion in the 2014 financial year and has supported our organization for over 4 years, under their ‘Corporate Responsibility’ goals.

This helped affirm Catriona’s decision to get involved with Indha Craft personally and know more about the social enterprise. She contacted our founder, Capt. Indraani Singh to discuss her plans and finally, dropped by in August, this year. Once she arrived here, our Project Director, Mr. Satya Prakash, introduced her to our women artisans, showed her around the office, our paper unit, the production room etc.

Fascinated and impressed, she placed an order for eco-friendly newspaper bags with Indha Craft and wanted our expertise on beach towels. Catriona plans on selling these bags to her small circle of friends- in Paris!

When asked why she chose Indha Craft to manufacture & design her order, she shares: ‘India has helped our tourism company garner huge amounts of profit, as our clients love it here and it is our number one travel destination. I always had a desire to give back to this wonderful country and Indha’s commitment towards empowering deprived women, really encouraged me to do something concrete, this time.’

This makes us realize how far we’ve come. Indha’s journey began in 2005, with just 10 artisans. What started as a small-scaled initiative to uplift disadvantaged women out of poverty through vocational training in tailoring & embroidery, has spread across India and is catering to overseas customers, today.

This entry was posted in Main blog Post on September 21, 2015

Read more...

Limca Book Of Records 2014- PEOPLE OF THE YEAR-14 CAPT INDRAANI SINGH

Limca Book Of Records 2014
———————————-
PEOPLE OF THE YEAR-14
CAPT INDRAANI SINGH

Capt Indraani Singh who joined Indian Airlines in 1986 went on to become the first woman in Asia to fly an Airbus 320 and the world’s first woman commander of a wide-bodied Airbus 300. Along with her passion for flying, she also carried a heart brimming with compassion for the deprived. In 1996, Indraani along with a few others founded the Literacy India Trust with focus on empowerment, education and employment. Starting with just five children and operating out of a construction site in Palam Vihar, Gurgaon, Haryana, her initiative now runs six projects which reach out to over 30,000 children, women and youth across the country. In 2004, she also started Indha, a self-help group for women to earn money through marketing their handmade products.
Indraani has won the Godfrey Philip Special Award for Bravery in Social Cause and the Women Achievers Award 2009 by the International Congress of Women.
This entry was posted in Main blog Post on September 17, 2015

Read more...

Taj, RBS,American Express, 92.7 FM- Indha Craft’s going places!

It is that time of the year, again. Our homes are decorated with candescent lights and diyas.  We’ve browsed through almost every gifting catalogue and visited every confectionery possible.The night sky resembles a canvas splattered with bright colours and pastel smoke.

Yes, Diwali, one of the largest and brightest festivals in India is right around the corner.

To create a memorable gifting experience for all our buyers, this season, Indha Craft has designed an eclectic array of exclusive handicraft items such as- scented candles, diyas, table runners, jewellery etc.

Commercial firms like Taj Hotel Resorts & Palaces, American Express, Royal Bank of Scotland and Indigo airlines, were quite impressed with this latest range and organized a Diwali stall for us at their corporate avenues, recently. These were spread across three different cities- Kolkata, New Delhi and Gurgaon. Moreover, we also held a successful exhibition at radio channel 92.7 FM and deemed university BITS Pilani’s NSS Oasis Stall. The response was amazing and we received a positive feedback from both, the organizers and customers.

Our founder, Captain Indraani Singh, shares: “Despite the day to day success  every month there is a struggle to make payments,  due no capital investment . The response to the products is really encouraging and our clients include companies like Gap,RBS,Microsoft etc. There is lot of potential to scale up this enterprise. We now look forward to financial support through crowdfunding platforms and donations from investors, so as, to take Indha Craft to a greater level.”

You can make a difference, as well. Every single purchase at Indha Craft, contributes to an artisan’s livelihood. Help create hope and light up an impoverished home, this Diwali!

Read more...