Thriving Kandum Business

D Business

In Raguvir Nagar of West Delhi, Kailash runs a unit of stitching and along with his family he manages to earn the considerable sum. His entrepreneurial endeavor enables a comfortable life. They buy used-clothing from the households that are useless for those people. After loosening stitches, they re-stitch them into various sizes before sell to the traders at nearby Purana Kapada Market.
Mohan  (45 year old) a school dropout from Uttar Pradesh who came in Delhi about 20 years ago with having seventy rupees in pocket now he possessed a piece of land which priced at 75 lakh.  Since then, Mohan is a regular peripatetic trader at Mandi and business of this used clothing gave him everything. Mohan narrated his success story to me. He added that he prefers embroidered garments and jeans. And prices of these embroidered cloths are much higher.
It is not an isolated story of entrepreneurial spirit at back of rubbles but this locality is a cradle of such numerous entrepreneurs. They are blooming on a principle – the fine stitch and the more money and further that is improving overall employment scenario. Same locality is also important for another reason. The government is running a cash transfer initiative instead of food grains through public distribution system but growing entrepreneurial spirit enabling them as self-dependent. They are aware of such initiatives.
When I ventured into nearby Purana  Kapda Vikray Market ( one of the largest  market place for used-clothing) there were forty  to fifty thousand  people, roughly. They vied for lying cloths like trousers, sarees etc. Some of workers were sorting cloths very fast. This market opens at 2 am daily and closes at around 1 pm after floor mopping and cleaning.
There are two types of workforce involved in this market one is self-employed and second one is wage employed. Under the self-employed category, whole families work together and toil for more than eight hours a day. On the other hand, there is another group of people who shorts cloths at piece rates. All most all market participants belong to Gujarat.
If you are regular for some times but you have not enough money to pursue your business then you can borrow easily form informal sector here known as Kishtiya. However, this business does not require a lot of money. Traders come here from Alwar, Gurgaon,  Rohtak  and all nook and corner of Delhi.
However there are no exact figures or data on involving work forces. Traders pay 3 rupees per gathar and if you are buyer of cloths then you will pay five rupees per gather.
These are not survival activities. It provides employment, goods and services for low-income groups. Anonymously these “ultimate entrepreneurs” are contributors to the economy as whole but they are invisible to the glitzy but it does not dampen their enthusiasm.

Picture by Shailesh Nigam

SRI: An Innovative Agricultural Practice

Norman Uphoff

Indian agriculture largely depends on monsoon rain and farmers face challenges of erratic weather but majority of them follows tradition ways of agricultural practices. In this backdrop, an agro-ecological methodology is gaining ground in various pockets which is popularly known as SRI. System of Rice Intensification is a set of innovative agricultural practices and many farmers from states like Bihar and Chhattisgarh are adopting it. But its contribution is inadequately documented.
In this backdrop, Solution Innovation Review interviewedProfessor Norman Uphoff, Cornell Institute of Public Affairs, Cornell University, USA – who worked extensively on this innovative agricultural practice. Professor Uphoff shade light on this agro-ecological methodology. Edited Excerpts:

Now, several experts are advising about change in cropping. What your view on it?
The whole world is likely to face greater challenges of more erratic weather and climate stress. There will need to be some changes in cropping, but more important, changes in practices — how crops are managed. 

And how rice intensification can work in such scenario?
The methods of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) enable plants to become more resistant and resilient to climate stresses — especially drought and water stress, but also the damages from storms (lodging of plants due to wind and rain), and also flooding, and extreme temperatures.  This is because with SRI methods, the plants grow larger, healthier root systems that can take up more nutrients and anchor plants better.
There is also good evidence that the healthier plants grown with SRI methods are more resistant to pests and diseases, which are made a more serious threat by climate changes.

What are challenges ahead, you see?
Mostly making changes in mindset. SRI shows that reductions, rather than increases, in inputs like seed, water and fertilizer can give more production. The green revolution had many successes, but these are diminishing now. We need to be benefiting from genetic potentials for greater productivity and plant protection that can be evoked with SRI methods that promote greater root growth and also greater abundance and diversity of beneficial soil organisms that help nourish plants and protect them from predators and pathogens. There are strong interests still favoring input-dependent improvement. Inputs can be beneficial, but better when part of a larger management strategy to support the life in the soil and to promote symbiotic relationships between plants and their biotic environment.

In countries like India, we witness emergence of grass-root innovations. Such innovators express their concern over lack of funding in developing countries. What’s your take?
Innovations almost by definition do not have the same support base that established practices have. India is fortunate to have a very vibrant NGO sector (civil society), but there are some very good partners in universities, government agencies and the private sector. Such like-minded persons need to work together to mobilize resources within their respective organizations, and by working closely with farming communities to mobilize self-help resources there. If there are successful efforts being made to reduce hunger and poverty, it should be possible to attract some external support.  But that support will not come as a precondition for effective local efforts. And those efforts should be prepared to make as much progress as possible with their own resources. A big part of development is overcoming the psychology of dependence that pervades colonial and post-colonial situations. Too many people are still waiting for others to come to their rescue or provide their salvation. If such resources can be attracted and mobilized, fine, if there is a self-standing and self-directed base to work from.

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