THE PROJECT

 

PROJECT GAMCHHA is the founding of a business — with a social footprint – to produce handmade silk in Bhagalpur, a traditional silk-weaving center in India.

The project aims to provide a team of local weavers with: a decent workplace; an opportunity to COLLABORATE with designers and artists-in-residence to imbue their craft with current fashion; and the promise of co-ownership of the venture to ensure an EQUITY of effort and profit for all involved in the venture.

The enterprise is set up in a disused 1960s factory building in Bhagalpur, which the project team is currently renovating.

OUR STORY

VALUE OF A CRAFT

 

OUR STORY IS STRAIGHTFORWARD:
We think that the masters of Bhagalpur — most of whom have become journeymen over the years on account of poverty resulting from economic and social challenges — must get a better deal for their craft.

We think this would be possible when the value of their craft could be increased and shared equitably. We want to achieve that.

BHAGALPUR is an old town on the river Ganges in the central-eastern state of Bihar, India. It doesn’t have a commercial airport but can be reached by train from Patna (5 hours) or by an overnight train from Kolkata.

With poor infrastructure, modern-day Bhagalpur is a poor shadow of the town in the past but remains an important commercial centre. It is an important silk exporter and is popularly known as the silk-city.

 
 
 

The capitalist system is under siege. In recent years business increasingly has been viewed as a major cause of social, environmental, and economic problems. Companies are widely perceived to be prosperous at the expense of the broader community

Michael Porter & Mark Krammer

SILK ECOSYSTEM

TRAINING LOOMS AT THE SILK INSTITUTE IN BHAGALPUR

THE WEAVERS'S CENTRE IN BHAGALPUR

 

An old, though fragile, ecosystem of silk production and weaving exists in Bhagalpur.

SILK INSTITUTE
There is a silk institute (since 1930), which is tottering on the brink, but continues to produce young textile professionals.

WEAVERS' CENTER
There is a weavers’s welfare centre housed in an old, impressive building: a reminder of Indo-Saracenic influence on local architecture notwithstanding the dilapidated condition of the rooms and overgrowth of plants in the compound. The welfare centre was started in 1974 to help local weavers and designers with all the support they require to upgrade their skills — technical and commercial.

SILK REARING
The region around Bhagalpur — mainly in Jharkhand, the neighbouring state — has forests with two species of trees, Arjuna and Asan, which shelter moths producing the cocoon used to reel Tasar yarn. These forests are home to various animist tribes who have a ritualistic approach to silk cultivation.

NGOs
A number of NGOs, development agencies and government organisations are involved in promoting cultivation of silk as a means of sustainable livelihood of the community in the region.

 

FABRICS OF BHAGALPUR

OUR SET-UP

 

TIMELINE

 
  • PHASE I : UNTIL MARCH 2015
    Renovation of the building in Bhagalpur. Set up of operations and start of production.
  • PHASE 2 : 2015-2017
    Expansion of facilities: Design center; Facility for artists and designers residency programme. Canteen. Training facility.
  • PHASE 3 : 2017-
    Expansion of the project. Increased scale and and scope: by expanding manufacturing and design facility and adopting clusters of villages.
 

PEOPLE

FOUNDERS
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AMITABH THAKUR

Amitabh, raised in Bhagalpur, is a teacher and a management consultant.

DIPANG LAMA

Dipang is an architect, a social activist and an artist.

SAKET SHUKLA

Saket is a partner at a law firm in India that he co-founded.

SATYAKAM SAHA

Satya, born in Bhagalpur, is a visual artist and an architect .
ADVISORS
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ALOK JHA

Alok, born and raised in Bhagalpur, works with McKinsey & Co., in New York.

ELLAN FEI SPERO

Ellan is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and MIT; she has worked as a textile conservator on projects ranging from the history of the American presidency and military to ancient Peruvian mummy bundles.

GIANNINO MALOSSI

Giannino is an independent curator, author and project manager working on the theory and practice of design, fashion, cultural industries and economics.

HARRY KNOLL

Harry is an architect with a firm in Basel, Switzerland; and a wood craftsman and carpenter, trained in the German guild system.

MANOJ JHA

Manoj Jha has been in the textile business after graduating with a degree in Textile Manufacturing from VJTI, Mumbai, in 1985. He owns and runs a textile export business in Bhagalpur.

VIKASH SINHA

Vikash is a textile professional and has founded a weaving and dyeing company in Bhagalpur
PATRONS
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TRIPURARI SHARAN

Tripurari Sharan is an officer of the Indian Administrative Service (1985, Bihar cadre).
 

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