Oukhoo, a small village in the Pulwama district, has been writing its growth story for years now by supplying pencils for millions across the country and the world to write with.
Popularly known as the 'Pencil Village of India', this humble village has been supplying 90 per cent of the raw materials required for the country's pencil manufacturing units. They also export a decent amount of it to about 150 countries abroad, with the handholding of the Jammu and Kashmir government.
Remarked as the village that made the industry self-reliant in India, Oukhoo's manufacturing units have been praised on a national level by the Prime Minister himself.
Writing Down A Self-Reliant Future
Before the potential of such units was recognised in Pulwama, the country used to import wooden supplies from China and other countries. It was only by 2010 that local entrepreneurs stepped up and decided to utilise the rich resources they have within the country.
The famous poplar trees that grow in the soil of Kashmir were used for this idea. With the ideal moisture content and weather conditions in Kashmir, the wood of Poplar remains peculiarly soft all along its growth period. This nature of its wood makes it the perfect raw material for manufacturing pencils.
Recognising the immense potential that lies within their lands, many people began establishing units and started picking up skills to make wooden slats.
Among those who set up the slat-manufacturing units is 45-year-old Manzoor Ahmad Alai. Taking assistance from one of the leading pencil manufacturers and exporters of India, the Hindustan Pencils, he set up his unit in Oukhoo in 2011. Today Alai is the owner of one of the biggest pencil slat-making factories in Oukhoo.
Speaking to him, a report by Tribune India conveyed the many hardships the industry had to pass through. During the pandemic phase, when everyone switched to online classes, the industry experienced a drastic drop. Hope was later on restored in the industry after the government's announcement of the resumption of offline classes.
"The schools, colleges have opened up again. We are now racing supply against demand from big brands across the country", gleamed Alai as normalcy returned to the valley and other parts of the country.
Industrial Development Became The Spine For Many Units Across Pencil Village
The village was brought to the limelight after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of their story in his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat'.
Talking about the Pencil village's contributions, he said that Pulwama has been playing an important role in educating the entire nation. "If the students across the nation do their homework, prepare notes, it is because of the hard work of the people of Pulwama," he said.
Extending a much-needed impetus to the industry, the Government of India then approved the Industrial Developmental Scheme for the valley of Jammu and Kashmir. Catering to the aspirations and potentials of the people, the scheme aimed to attract new investments and nurture the existing ones. This has nudged the many units in Jammu and Kashmir to attain self-reliance.
The last two years were difficult for most people due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its induced lockdown. Similar was the case for Gourahari Das, a resident of Gopa village in Odisha who earns his livelihood by making musical instruments.
However, this year, the 73-year-old has returned to business and is working vigorously with Sanjit, his son, to meet the massive demand from Durga Puja organisers.
Demand For Musical Instruments
According to The New Indian Express, Das said, "We faced a lot of hardship due to the pandemic. But now, we are glad to have received huge orders for musical instruments like mridanga, tabla, dhol, pakhawaj, etc. from Durga Puja committees, temples, mutts and other religious organisations. So far, we have supplied dhols and other traditional musical instruments to around 10 Puja committees."
Dhol is one of the musical instruments used by Puja organisers during the immersion ceremony of idols of Goddess Durga. This time several organisers had placed many orders for dhol as it is obligatory to purchase a new drum and beat it during the immersion of idols. Just like Das, almost 50 musical instrument makers from the district are engaged in giving final touches to their products.
Keeping Hereditary Art Form Alive
Madhusudan Das, a 45-year-old musical instrument maker of Kendrapara, said that they had been tirelessly working for the last several months in a bid to earn better profits during Dussehra and Laxmi Puja. He said that the Puja communities and band parties usually place orders for musical instruments around three to five months before the commencement of Navratri festivities.
Das noted that the shortage of skilled artisans is one of the most significant hurdles in the business. He said some of them who are still in the business of making musical instruments continue to practice the craft only to keep the hereditary art form alive as one cannot make ends meet in the profession.
Bidyadhar Chatterjee, the President of the Indupur Durga Puja committee, said that since the government has prohibited the use of DJs and high-decibel audio systems to track noise pollution during festivals, most band parties and Puja committees prefer traditional instruments this year.
The president of India, Draupadi Murmu, who was on a two-day visit to Gujarat starting on Monday (October 3), inaugurated and laid the foundation stone for various projects/initiatives related to tribal development and education in the. She also launched 'herSTART' on Tuesday, an initiative of the Gujarat University Startup and Entrepreneurship Council (GUSEC) to support women-led startups.
The initiative aims to boost the startup efforts of women entrepreneurs and innovation. Through this platform, women entrepreneurs can easily connect with various private and government enterprises that will support their startup venture. The digital platform is also designed to provide resources and training modules to enthusiastic women entrepreneurs free of cost.
In the 'herSTART' platform, the success stories of women entrepreneurs will also be published digitally to inspire other women. According to officials, there are 450 startup projects operational at Gujarat University, out of which 125 startups are inspired by women.
The president, in her address, said, "India has moved from 81st position to 40th position in the Global Innovation Index (GII) of 2022 as a result of the startup program started across the country with the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," Hindustan Times reported.
Education & Tribal Development
The president also virtually laid the foundation and dedicated 11 education development projects worth Rs 164 crore. She mentioned that the inclusive model of development carried out in Gujarat is an inspiration for other states. She urged other states to adopt each other's work and development model to build a collectively developed nation.
She also highlighted the work of the Gujarat government towards the development of the tribal community. She said that the dropout rate at schools among the students of tribal communities has also come down after the launch of Vanabandhu Kalyan Yojana, Kanya Nivasi Shala, and Eklavya Model Residential School in the state.
According to officials, the 'herSTART' initiative will take the development of Gujarat to the next level as more women entrepreneurs will take the lead. The people are also lauding the startup platform of Gujarat University for women entrepreneurs as it will make the entrepreneurial journey of women easy.
Right after Ramappa temple made its way into the list of World Heritage Sites of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organisation (UNESCO), adding yet another feather to the crowned jewels of Telangana, Siddipet's Gollabhama Sarees found its place in the UNESCO's list of iconic textile crafts of the Indian Nation.
Proud Moment For Telangana
In what can only be described as a proud moment for the weavers from Dubbaka and Siddipet, who have been hand-making the Gollabhama sarees since the 1960s, the sarees found their place in the report of UNESCO titled "Handmade for the 21st Century: Safeguarding Traditional Indian Textile". The report listed the folklores and antiquities of the unique textile crafts in India.
Adding to the famous Gollabhama sarees, three items from the Telugu states were placed on the list for an official release by UNESCO. Ever since the entry of the Jacquard weaving machine nearly six years ago, the weavers have been looking into making the Gollabhama sarees both in quantity and quality by maintaining the age-old traditional handiwork by sustaining its classic glory and shine.
Tradition & History
Nearly 500 weavers have been making a living out of weaving these dupattas and sarees, who are also members of a total of 18 handloom cooperative societies in the Rajanna Sircilla district of Telangana, reported News18.
Furthermore, Telangana Finance Minister called the recognition achieved by the Gollabhama sarees by the world heritage body an honour to the weavers of the Siddipet who have been weaving the sarees for over six decades now.
In an official social media post, the minister claimed that the State government has been encouraging and promoting the weavers and their work by arranging an exclusive stall in the Golconda Handicrafts Showroom that the Textiles department has run.
The organs of a senior Delhi All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS) official's sister, who was declared brain dead a few days ago, were donated, giving a new lease of life to four people and sight to two.
Snehlata Choudhary (63), the sister of Rabindra Agarwal, an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer posted as the additional director of administration at AIIMS, suffered a severe head injury while out for a morning walk last month. She was initially operated on for a head injury in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, before being airlifted to the AIIMS Trauma Centre for further treatment.
The doctor said, "Choudhary was health conscious and used to go for morning walks regularly for the last 25 years. Despite best efforts, her condition did not improve, and she was declared brain dead on September 30."
Supported The Organ Donation Cause All Her Life
Snehlata Choudhary was both a housewife and a social worker, and throughout her life, she was a strong supporter of the eye donation campaign and the cause of organ donation. She also qualified for 'Kaun Banega Crorepati', reported NDTV.
According to the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation, the 63-year-old's heart, kidney, and corneas were donated to AIIMS patients, while her liver will be used at the Army RR Hospital. Her second kidney was given to a patient at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
During organ retrieval, the forensic medicine team performed a virtual autopsy using computed tomography and a post-mortem. Deepak Gupta, Neurosurgery Professor, supervises the AIIMS Trauma Centre's organ procurement services.
Awareness Towards Organ Donations
In India, one person dies in a road accident every three minutes, amounting to 1.50 lakh deaths per year, but only 700 organ donations occur, indicating that increased awareness is required.
According to a doctor, 12 donations have taken place since April at AIIMS Trauma Centre, Delhi, the highest here since 1994. The doctor added that the team at the trauma centre had made significant changes in brain death certification and organ procurement processes, leading to increased numbers.
The administration believes that a bureaucrat's family member donating organs comes when the government is attempting to raise awareness about the issue, and it will undoubtedly serve as an example.
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