Shobha Kumari is the founder of Srijan handicraft from Ranchi, Jharkhand. She launched Srijan Handicrafts in 1993, to popularise hand-made dolls. She uses clay, sawdust, and cloth for the process of doll making and showcase India’s cultural diversity. In the process, she has also empowered thousands of women from marginal communities. She said,” was my dream since childhood, I used to train number of women who are under privilege. This is our effort to keep our culture, tradition alive. We make Eco-friendly dolls. Our organisation does business with foreign nations like America, Australiaa and Neetherland. Sale, supply and deal with other nations is a difficult part as we have people in our organisation who are not educated enough. But i have been training them. From 30 years i have been doing this effort. Srijan captures the true essence of ‘Vocal for Local’ as it creates jobs and financially empowers women from marginalised sections, while crafting indigenous dolls that popularise Jharkhand’s culture. The venture received an honorary mention in a recent episode of Mann Ki Baat. After Mann ki baat we got recognition we have started receiving orders. We were shocked at first that PM talked about us but we really feel happy and in market we got recognition. Mann ki baat is a life turning point for us.
“I looked for features that barbies didn’t offer, and the first thing I noticed was how they didn’t display India’s cultural diversity. But before experimenting with other cultures, I had to ensure that I was effectively showcasing my state’s heritage,” she said.
Along with selling dolls, she also started free training sessions for women. These included widows, domestic helps, and women with alcoholic husbands. She has trained over a thousand women. Shobha says none are obligated to work with her — they are free to start their own brand or take her help for marketing. At the end of the day, the fundamental goal is to make women financially independent by giving them a chance to earn as much as possible,” she adds.
“Every woman has some talent, it just needs to be nurtured and given direction,” said Kumari. “We can train a newcomer to earn upto ten thousand rupees a month. I charge only those who can pay, those from underprivileged backgrounds get free training,” she told.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned in his Mann Ki Baat programme as to why we should cherish, preserve and nurture ‘Vocal for Local’. Kumari’s Jharkhand dolls are a good example of this spirit. Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Vocal For Local initiative, Kumari of Srijan Handicrafts has so far trained more than a thousand women to make dolls of clay and sawdust.
Rohini Patnaik and Deepa Singh Baghela run a Millete cafe which was launched last year in May 2022 in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh. Working with an integrated project that seeks to increase the production, procurement and consumption of millets, especially Ragi, this cafe was conceptualised. They never imagined that a pizza or manchurian made of millet would suit the taste buds of the millennials.
Thanks to the Millet Mission of Chhattisgarh, the coarse grains have not only got a new identity but are also empowering women economically. Run by members of women SHG, the state’s first Millet Cafe in Raigarh city was set up with the initial support of the district administration.
The visitors are offered a wide variety of dishes including millet momos, millet cheela and dosa, millet Manchurian, millet pizza, ragi pakoda, ragi papad, ragi roti and kodo biryani. “People have started liking the dishes, and the sale is also increasing,” Patnaik said.
The millets commonly grown in India include jowar (sorghum), bajra (pearl millet), ragi (finger millet), jhangora (barnyard millet), barri (proso or common millet), kangni (foxtail/Italian millet), kodra (kodo millet), etc.
“In Mann ki baat, PM Modi hailed our effort of promoting millets. We have received huge recognition and getting calls from all over nations. Mission has been accomplished after getting praise from PM Modi in his programme.” Rohini said.
Rohini Patnaik who runs the Café’s operations observed: “We want to provide healthy food and make sure that it satisfies the taste buds of the customers. With the initial support from the district administration, now our cafe is self-sustainable.”
The eatery goes beyond providing food as it also enlightens its patrons about the benefits of millets. To promote the delicacies made of millets, the Café is sharing unique recipes of the food with others i n the State and India. Recently, it also served millet dishes at the Vidhan Sabha also.
Muktaben Dagli is a social ativist from Gujarat. She works for blind and disabled people and associated with several organisations. Dagli was awarded the Padma Shri in 2019 by the Government of India for her social work. She was awarded the Gandhi Mitra award in 2015.
She served as an honorary secretary of Andhjan Mandal (Blind People’s Association), Amreli for twelve years. She founded a primary school for blind in Amreli. She is the executive member of Navchetan Andhjan Mandal, Bhachau; joint secretary of Navjivan Andhjan Mandal, Vankaner; trustee of Women Association for Blind, Ahmedabad; secretary of Pragnachakshu Mahila Sewa Kunj, Surendranagar. She publishes Didi, a bi-monthly braille magazine for blind women.
She remarked, “We used to meet more frequently when Modiji was the Gujarat CM because he recognised our work. Modiji gave me a warm welcome the day I earned the Padam Shri. PM’s greatest talent is motivating others. After earning the Padam Shri, we were receiving a lot of public support. We have four branches in the State. We offer blind people free access to healthcare, education, and other necessities. After “Mann ki baat” accolades, our organisation began to receive a tonne of support.
Jannat Tariq is a 3rd standard student in Linton Hall Public School; she has taken up the initiative to keep the iconic Dal Lake clean. She is on a mission to clean Dal Lake from very young age. She said, “When I got tweet from PM Modi it was turning point for my life. Till date we have clean a wide area. I felt really special on receiving PM’s tweet and praise. When I was 3-year-old my father himself cleans the Dal Lake. I got inspiration from my father. I want to be a scientist and create a machine that will eliminate all trash from the planet.”
Then her father said- from 25 years I am on a mission to clean Dal Lake. On Sundays and Fridays, we clean the Dal Lake. Because of Mann ki baat we got recognition. I am proud of her she will do her best.
Prime Minister NarendraModi has lauded this little girl’s effort to clean the Dal Lake. “Hearing this little girl will make your morning even better! Great passion towards Swachhata,” Prime Minister took to Twitter to share.