NABARD Chairman lays the foundation stone of Looms of Ladakh Workstation and Training Centre at Chushul

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Chushul, Ladakh: Chairman NABARD, Dr GR Chintala , laid the foundation stone of the Workstation and Training Centre of Looms of Ladakh here on Monday 30 May 2022.

Speaking on this occasion, Dr Chintala appreciated the efforts of Looms of Ladakh in bringing technology for traceability. He promised all support of NABARD and Government of India in the endeavours towards realising the goal of building the global producer owned luxury brand “Looms of Ladakh”.

Dr Chintala said NabFoundation was only one year old when Looms of Ladakh pitched for their project. He went on to underscore that it was a great project for NabFoundation to diversify its portfolio in a remote location as the objective of forming NabFoundation by NABARD was to promote projects as an Implementing agency as his organisation wants more impact-oriented investments and grants for the grassroots

Devasis Padhi, CGM, OFDD NABARD Headquarters, Mumbai acknowledged the need of champions for sustainable business development of Off-farm Producer Organisations (OFPOs).

Sanjeev Rohilla, CEO NabFoundation, also offered strong support for Looms of Ladakh and said that the Chairman and OFDD team sanctioned 1.19 crores instead of the 83 lakhs initially proposed. This is is for the first time in the history of NABARD, he added.

Addressing the gathering, Founder Director of Looms of Ladakh, Abhilasha Bahuguna talked about the slow and consistent road required to build the producer owned global luxury brand which would be possible only if they were to stick to the values represented by the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN (SDGs).

Looms of Ladakh focuses on the SDGs and aims at Reducing Inequalities, Ms Bahuguna went on to underscore. She especially drew attention stating, the newly surfacing Ladakh Pashmina, Yak and Bactrian Camel wool industry in Ladakh is tilted towards individual entrepreneurs. Consequently the fruits of being a luxury fibre source region were not being evenly distributed among the herders and the artisans community and as a result, they were discontinuing their traditional practices in search of odd jobs. This further was increasing the burden on the Leh town whose carrying capacity is limited. Looms of Ladakh as a global producer owned luxury brand in which all members are owners aim to address these issues along with reducing inequalities, Ms Bahuguna pointed out.

Ms Bahuguna said “Looms of Ladakh is working towards realising sustainable livelihoods for the herder-artisan community through a participatory profit-sharing business model run by the designer and herder-artisans together. They are thus the employers of their own managers. They have the knowhow of judging whether the business is conducted honestly and efficiently. This is going to be slow and consistent work but it is possible.”

Regarding the Gender Equality goal, Ms Bahuguna said that Looms of Ladakh is a women’s cooperative with the village producer groups’ representatives in the Governing Board being women and this representation is always going to be more than 50 per cent. Luxury fashion industry has mostly been a male dominated industry like other industries. Looms of Ladakh wants to carve a unique place for the women of Ladakh who have been part of self help groups and Ama tsogspas for community activities and prayers. 

To attain the goal of Decent Work and Economic Growth, the handmade craft and textile clusters of India lack the capacity to manufacture medium to large range quantities of nearly standardised products in a time bound manner. Hence, Ms Bahuguna emphasised, “Looms of Ladakh will make efforts for regular decent work and economic growth by building the manufacturing capacity of the luxury fibre industry of Ladakh. This will be done by creating a cadre of spinners, master weavers and more, by consistently up-skilling them and also bringing out the innate designer in each traditional craft practitioner”. 

For ensuring Responsible Consumption and Responsible Production, Ms Bahuguna said that Looms of Ladakh’s production activities will strive to find a balance between ecology, culture and economy. The production will have a growth mindset but with a goal of making all its member owners reach a consistent decent level of monthly remuneration. It will invest in research and technological advancement. However, machines will always be used to reduce the drudgery and improve productivity of manual work and not replace it. Looms of Ladakh shall also aspire to develop a business model for both exports and the local market. It aspires to become an aspirational brand for locals and influence locals to take pride in renting, repairing,resaling with/from/to Looms of Ladakh in the years to come.

For better Life on Land, the founder of Looms of Ladakh said their women’s cooperative is researching, building capacities and adding value to all locally available natural fibre to set industry standards. Studies suggest that a balance in the herd sizes of pashmina, yak and sheep is good for the grasslands management and biodiversity. Looms of Ladakh also aims to use local materials and passive solar heating buildings in all its current and ongoing infrastructure development work.

Looms of Ladakh also realises the importance of Partnerships for the Goals. Ms bahuguna said, they are aware that lack of convergence, departmentalisation and working in silos leads to loss of public money in short-lived projects. This sometimes happens due to the ambiguity in credits and felicitations to individual departments. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals recognises the need of Partnerships in Policy making and implementation to realise SDGs for the good of all. NITI Aayog, Government of India also endeavours to Localise the SDGs. Looms of Ladakh and its partners aim to be a living example where good folks come together for the larger vision and celebrate collaboration.

It is significant, Ms Bahuguna said that the system’s approach and striving for multiple SDGs together is imperative. We can not work for one SDG while neglecting the others, she further observed, adding the member owners of Looms of Ladakh are empowering the efforts. They have empowered the vision when they themselves called for elections to the Women’s cooperative for the second time when due. They empowered the vision when they made and sang the Looms of Ladakh song at the event which meant that they are committed to adding value to the raw material at source and building a luxury brand irrespective of caste, colour or creed.

On this occasion, souvenirs were given by CEO Mrs. Lobzang Lamo, Cashier Shakeela Bano, Elected office bearers, Young Professionals Milee Parmar and Nishant Raj

Besides Dr G R Chintala, also present were Ms. Suseela Chintala, MD and CEO NabKisan, Anil Sood, CGM Jammu and Kashmir RO, Sanjeev Rohilla CEo NabFoundation, Lt Col Surinder, 22 JakRif Chushul, Major Malik, Nabard RO Jammu and Kashmir, Harsh Deshmukh, Asst Vice President NabFoudnation, NABARD.

Rohit and Utkarsha of Himalayan Instiutue of Alternatives (HIAL) gave a presentation on the Passive Solar Heating workstudio and training centre that will be built in Chushul under this project

Looms of Ladakh reached out to HIAL to live SDG and use local earth material and traditional techniques for its infrastructure

Ms. Lobzang Lamo, CEO (2020-2023) Looms of Ladakh gave a vote of thanks and mentioned that till now it was their fight alone now that the NABARD has joined the fight, they were grateful. She even got emotional during her vote of thanks mentioning about the founders and said emphatically: “we will not give up”.

Sanjeev Rohilla of NabFoundation and Mrs Shakeela Bano Cashier (2020-2023) Looms of Ladakh were all praise for the event, which was a NabFoundation, NABARD and Looms of Ladakh joint event.

Earlier in his speech, Devasis Padhi had stated how they had worked on finding the right scheme for Looms of Ladakh and then got it sanctioned under Gram Vikas Nidhi and this was much deserved. Adding to this, Ms Bahuguna said how each and everyone present represented the message of the poem by Vikram Seth: “The frog and the nightingale ~ your song must be your own”.

It is important to mention that Dr GR Chintala, Devasis Padhi, Sanjeev Rohilla – they stepped up for this project when Looms of Ladakh pitched to them in their own way.

Dr G R Chintala told the audience that they had come to Ladakh only because of Looms of Ladakh.

During the event, Anil Sood CGM Jammu talked about the first Regional Office of NABARD being launched in Leh on Thursday 2 June 2022. Looms of Ladakh showed how Ladakh needs such project and how Looms of Ladakh made efforts to reach out to NABARD headquarters. Not everyone is aware and hence the need for regional office was felt to speed up the setting up of the Regional Office of NABARD, which was in the pipeline since Ladakh became a Union Territory.

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