Sunday, 31 May 2015

Traditional artisans in India and UTHHAN-Empowering artisans(Part 2)





I have already described in my earlier blog about the situation which pushed me to start UTHHAN-Empowering artisans for upgrading the existing artisan community.

UTHHAN is an initiative of GOLDEN ERA SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS AND CONSULTANCY PVT LTD along with GOLDEN ERA CONSUMER DURABLES PVT LTD, which are group companies of GOLDEN ERA ROYAL GROUP(GERG). The main reason for degradation of artisan community was the uneven distribution of profit by middlemen and distributors to the makers. UTHHAN is the first initiative in India, where the profit goes to the artisan,who creates the marvel. The rest of the profit is shared between the organisations who assist us to locate the underprivileged artisan families and GERG.

During the initial days, I have met so many political stalwarts, artisan organisations, artisan development board officials but, in vein, since there are no substantial kick bags involved in the project. UTHHAN will eliminate the role of middlemen and distributors and the products directly reaches the end users from artisans with out any hassles through our platform. I have faced ruthless questions from renowned artisan leaders and politicians about the transparency of the project and my personal benefits. Stalling is easier than starting for many of these. How can a common artisan fight this political apathy and government / bureaucratic nuances miseries out?.

I spend a reasonable sum of amount for this initiative with out which the concept can't be in lime light. During this period with the help of couple of good friends, I got a chance to exhibit myself about UTHHAN in an IAS officers club. My mind was overjoyed because of the very fact that some of these officers belong to the artisan community and the same concept can connect them better than any one.

I have given a presentation for 10 mins about UTHHAN and for my surprise one of the officer asked me like " Whether all these things can be done by you with honesty at this young age? I really doubt your skill set and capabilities ". I asked " What's your age sir? ". He quipped " 49 ". I asked him again " Can you tell me any initiative which you have propelled for the artisan community, whom you belongs to till now ? ". There was silence in the forum and he reacted to this, showcasing me as an arrogant youth with no respect towards elders. Truth is always bitter, but our younger generation should have the courage to question discriminations for a brighter tomorrow. He is in a better position than me to help his community which he has comfortably forgotten in the tide of time. Many of the celebrities in India, belong to this ever struggling artisan community. This is the irony.

I got an opportunity to give a speech about UTHHAN, where artisan leaders from across India had participated. It appeared to be a strong platform where, I can unite these people for a common cause. But the agenda and the parameters preferred by the leaders during the summit was disappointing and out dated. They wanted to pressurise Government for declaring Viswakarma Day as a national holiday and create a separate ministry for artisans.

 The meeting missed the following points
1) How can the artisan family survive ?
2) Why Government will obey you with out a proper organised structure ?
3) What's the benefit for poor artisan community by declaring Viswakarma day as a national holiday ?

In the summit, I stressed on these points rather than UTHHAN, since awareness was required for leaders rather than followers. I have been ignored by the leaders in the meet because of the bitter reality, I  exposed. But a section of the crowd interacted with me after the meet about UTHHAN and its implications.



PROCESS OF UTHHAN IN A GLANCE
1) Identifying the artisan family
2) Enrolment by filling up UTHHAN form
3) ID and address proof documents of the family
4) Generation of ARTISAN IDENTIFICATION NUMBER(AID,this is a unique code generated by
the system)
5) Artisan Product upload  and bank account opening of artisan
6) Order from customer
7) Packing and delivery from artisan locality to customer
8) Artisan share of profit directly to his UTHHAN bank accounts



UTHHAN concept was accepted with both hands by my father, Mr.Thamarakulam Ravi, who is running an organisation for traditional artisans across India, called Artisan Development Organisation, in which he holds the position of  NATIONAL PRESIDENT. The other people who stood with me were Ms.Soni Sahu (Creative head,UTHHAN and Director GERG), Mr.A K Mohana Krishnan (Central government counsel,High court of Karnataka), Mr.KCV Mane (Superintendent of police,Bangalore), Mrs.Roopamouli (State coordinator, UTHHAN, Karnataka)and my company employees. ADO has arranged many platforms for us across Kerala, to create an awareness about UTHHAN. We had started a toll free helpline number for artisans on 2012 which allows an artisan to directly contact us to discuss about his skill set and displaying his products on our platform.




UTHHAN will organise the artisans based on locality and ensure financial stability along with preservation of a culture. Artisans don't have to fight with government for their rights because of the self sustainability through UTHHAN. They will learn financial savings, compatibility and cohesiveness  because of the unity and strength. The younger artisan generation will not be reluctant to do artisan job any more because of job respect and healthy earnings. Once the project finds more families, we can start educational scholarships for artisan kids, group insurance schemes and housing schemes thereby empowering this community. Skill is our strength and UTHHAN explore the same for an upgraded living.


UTHHAN PROJECTIONS FOR NEXT 5 YEARS

1) Setting up industrial sheds for bulk manufacturing
2) UTHHAN outlets across major cities in India
3) 5000 families under the project
4) Educational scholarships,Life insurance and housing for at least 500 families
5) Setting up colleges for artisans with skill related courses

We are creating virtual UTHHAN STORE with www.gergstore.com (on line shopping initiative of GERG) in the upcoming days for maximum product exposure. We are also in the process of creating a vendor panel where UTHHAN coordinator in a particular area can upload the product photos directly and monitor the sales and revenue flow to artisan account effectively.



You can visit the following links for UTHHAN

Website - uthhan.gergstore.com
Events. -  https://www.facebook.com/uthhan.org/
Shopping - http://www.gergstore.com/1049-uthhan-store



I request all of you to be a part of this attempt to reincarnate our tradition and culture through our artisans, who are the pride of our nation.

And Finally as Henry Ford once said " Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal " .

So lets join hands for the best !!!!!!!


LEEMON RAVI

Note: You can email me all your valuable suggestions and feed back to leemon.r@gmail.com





Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Traditional artisans in India and UTHHAN-Empowering artisans(Part 1)

Traditional Artisans- A section in our society with out which our day to day life can be impossible and  obsolete. They are the largest workforce sector in India placed only behind Agricultural and Industrial sectors, yet unorganised, underprivileged and economically squeezed by various political outfits. Artisan community comprises of skilled and unskilled people who can make/create things from wood, metal, cloth, stone etc. using traditional tools. I will highlight the plight of Artisans in India here and the steps taken by me,along with some good Samaritans to make some difference to their hardships.
The traditional artisans in India is facing the following obstacles which triggered a total financial black out and reduction in the work force over a period of last 10 years

PAY OUT

An artisan pay out is not structured or regularized by government and treated the same as labour charges. The work undertaken by an artisan is not labour but a skilled task, which needs precision and talent. So an artisan payment is as low as a labour, where his work is admired by lakhs of people across the globe and the work is devalued. This has lead to financial apathy since the same amount may not be sufficient for his basic family needs. The irony is that a furniture showroom owner earns more than a carpenter, thereby the value of the work is being disproportionately distributed where the major profit goes to a mere distributor than creator. I won't paint this as a capitalistic approach by any one but definitely not the right way of treating these people. The value of their creation has to go to them on a proportionate manner with the distributor. Unfortunately our existing system and the concerned government bodies are least bothered about all these, since they are busy making money through various means.

EDUCATION

Artisans are educationally backward class of people because of the first factor and zero support from government agencies. The concerned bodies are hell bent to give free education and creating jobs for so called backward casts. Artisans are listed as per their religion and not as per their skills, which made it difficult to organise them for any educational benefits. Education is the back born of a community growth with out which people lack ideas and executional flowcharts for growth and expansion. Even though an artisan has immense creativity for producing a craft but lack of knowledge to compete with a sophisticated society with wide connectivity. This weakness has been utilized by so called Multi national companies and they use their expertise to mint money from these crafts. The artisans treat them like their gods and continue to live under their might still unaware of their own might and creativity. Even their children are not ably supported with education making their future also bleak.

COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY  AND UNITY

Any community will sustain, if the same is self reliant and independent. Artisan community is majorly dependent on outside distribution agencies and government bodies for their daily bread thus not self dependent. The first 2 factors along with an unorganised structure completely burdened them and the community is over dependent as of now. This will never allow them to prosper because of exploitation which in turn tuned by the artisans itself because of their helplessness. Since they are not united the strength to imbibe self dependency is marginalized, playing in to the hands of exploiters and their handlers.

JOB RESPECT

You may raise eyebrows with this factor, but this is a major factor for any person to continue with a particular job. Integrity and self respect derive from Job respect. I can blindly tell you that none of us respect the job of an artisan. We respect and acknowledges a craft brand rather than the craft maker, thereby making  young generation of artisans reluctant to take up their traditional jobs. They are not even treating this inherent craftsmanship as a blessing ,but curse. If your predecessor is not ready to carry the mantle of craft making, it poses an immediate threat to the identity of a community. The artisan community is going through this phase as of now, which has to be rectified on a priority basis. Otherwise we have to import artisans from foreign countries by paying a huge sum of money in the future thereby loosing our craft inherited from our great ancestors.

RAW MATERIALS AND WARE HOUSING

This is the basic aspect of an artisan with out which they can't produce artistic marvels. Procurement of raw materials made difficult by middlemen and politicians by way of monopolization and lobbying. These poor underprivileged people  are further arm twisted and made to bent for acquiring raw materials by these antisocial elements ably supported by our bureaucrats. We are living in a country where tribal don't have rights in forest, but poachers have!! Even if the artisan acquires raw material, ware housing has been a nemesis because of their poor living conditions. I have literally seen artisan houses, sorry ' huts ', where they don't have a proper roof to sleep, with hungry kids crying around. The most heartbreaking scene is the situation of  an artisan literally begging to purchase a product to feed his family.

MARKETING AND BRANDING

There are no ways for an uneducated, low income class artisan to know about the importance of marketing and branding. If anybody comes forward to do the same, they churn the artisan again and again to fill their pockets with profit ,leaving this community begging for a living.









The above mentioned artisan plights pulled me to start our initiative called UTHHAN-Empowering artisans. I always believed that, if we fight against any discrimination in a creative and constructive way, success will follow us. I decided to fight against this injustice in my own way, in my own style. I clearly understood that this will be a long fight and needs more will power to get on with it. But I wanted to give a try because nothing will change unless there is an uprising. I have seen so many artisan organisations fighting for their rights post independence, but the benefit goes to leaders and not community and they use them for political mileage and benefits. The renowned leaders of artisan community often lead them to secretariats, public places and so on for demanding their rights, but it is often seen that they will get beating from police and not so called ' rights '. No demands will be fulfilled  by government, if you are not organised and self dependent. I try to achieve this instead of verbal jugglery and political marches through UTHHAN.

I will explain you about UTHHAN and the actions taken till now along with the people involved in detail, in my next blog with all of you.

Please remember artisans when you come across any artisan items and understand that they have to be empowered to upheld our Indian culture !!!



With Hope

LEEMON RAVI
































Saturday, 16 May 2015

GOLDEN ERA ROYAL GROUP AND BUSINESS SHARING

I started GOLDEN ERA ROYAL GROUP 4 years back with GOLDEN ERA PROPERTY PVT LTD as the flagship company in property segment with a group of enthusiasts who possessed crazy brain and naive approach. We have concentrated only on a steady growth curve rather than an exponential outburst.
A steady growth should go hand-in-glove with innovative thinking and apt execution abilities. The companies across the globe has evolved over a period of time; in strategy, branding, expansion and positioning. I belonged to a time where there was an absence of internet connectivity, mobile phones and branding tools. There were entrepreneurs, who pursued their dreams with passion, grit and ambition those days. Print and visual media played a vital part for the growth of past entrepreneurship ventures and there were a flurry of entrepreneurs those days. If you glance through any successful entrepreneurial ventures, effective business sharing was their growth key. People are the assets of a business and flow of money is only the natural outcome of the former process.
I want to highlight only the importance of business sharing with individuals which will act as a fillip to our entrepreneurial dreams.
I have mentioned about the past business trends to emulate the trends in business sharing for our current ventures. A business will attain a steady growth because of many factors, but business sharing being the X factor. Business sharing has been called in different names like Channel partners, business partners, shareholders, franchisees etc. A company, which gives a structural & strategical sharing will come on top ,but  time can be a constraint since trust is a component which will come to you based on individualistic and brand value credibility. In earlier ages, where global market was a far way dream, Promoters used to inculcate business sharing to known or referral individual or group of individuals only. An individual / group of individuals is absorbed in the system and he / they will be nurtured to perform as per the company vision and business processes. This was a much traditional approach of business sharing ,the only disadvantage being the time factor to arrive at the vision. This type of  traditional  approach was used by many of the leading business personalities and succeeded. Bravo to their persistence and passion!!!

In the modern era of business ideologies and ventures equipped with global connectivity  the thinking has to be modified." Diversification " is the new slogan of growth.

" Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow " once
Ralph Waldo Emerson said.

I have put this thought to my line of businesses for growth through diversification. Ralph Waldo was right, but the hitch was my limited knowledge of different segments for diversification. I didn't believe in talent acquisition and supporters based on a fixed remuneration which generates profit towards the company. We strongly stood for young talented minds infused in to our line of businesses. We decided to share the business profit with that young minds allowing them to grow as  entrepreneurs with our group ,enjoying the cushion of experienced people to hold them steady. This is an easy ideology to express but difficult to execute. I had this strategy rooted to my mind on 2011 and put the same to cold storage because of many professional challenges. I also thought that a period of 2-3 years is required for me to set up a platform for younger entrepreneurs to come in.

2013,a magical year for our group GERG where we had started diversifying in to software development, construction, financial, consumer durable & Entertainment. I decided that this is the time to implement the business sharing with young entrepreneurs and started searching for the right talent. The year has passed by with early revenues and completion of deadlines.
In 2014, I got a call from my college, LBS College of Engineering for an alumni and entrepreneurial interaction with Chief minister of Kerala. I was literally overwhelmed since this can relive my business sharing idea and gone to my college after 11 years with a nostalgic feeling. The interaction was amazing and I was surprised to see a lot of students aspiring to become entrepreneurs with unique and brilliant business acumen.

During a lunch hosted by my college after the function a group of 5 students approached me and my wife (She is also a director in all our ventures with a strong creative mind)and asked our advice for starting an E-commerce company. We have shared our experience in the same but not discussed anything about business sharing. Probably because I should have underestimated their knowledge in the segment!!! I came back to Bangalore and concentrated back to our line of businesses. These students again interacted with me after a couple of weeks with their thoughts in E commerce and then I realized their real potential and conveyed them my thoughts on business sharing.

I found a staunch supporter in my wife who backed me because of her confidence and belief in accommodating young talents with fresh minds and innovative ideas. We have started our Ecommerce venture www.gergstore.com developed by these talented minds with my wife donning the role of CEO on August 2014.As I discussed with you earlier, We have included them to this project as employers rather than employees ,thereby following "Diversification through Business sharing" ideology.

The Business sharing was very much fruitful and encouraging that they started executing the business plans as their own which triggered an instant growth. We had held many brain storming sections to grow the business to the next level and the same has started seeing positives. The main aspect of this type of sharing is ,backing their plans for which they will have confidence and can execute the same with vigor. These entrepreneurs are quite young with lots of time in their side to learn about the intricacies of business and processes. We make sure that these talents are nurtured under expert ideas and strong leadership.

There may be many successful entrepreneurs following this module and I am not treating my views as unique. But the same has been experienced by me and this strategy brought growth in to my ventures and this blog is a testimonial to the same. I have started introducing this to my other ventures also. So lets get more people along with us and not under us, for a constructive growth and powerful brand positioning.

Cheers!!
LEEMON RAVI