Friday, February 26, 2010

It's a struggle to maintain the health of the soil, of farmers, of customers and the environment by avoiding chemicals in cotton, and of course in food crops. The harmful effects of chemicals were only understood after their use became widespread, and the warnings of early whistle-blowers like Rachel Carson [author of Silent Spring] were by and large brushed aside. Now we seem to be ready to accept and propagate Genetic Modification which could be even more dangerous than chemical use. Yesterday we heard the depressing news from our friend Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture that much of the organic cotton in the country has been contaminated by BT cotton, and that as a result some cotton growing regions of the country and some certifying agencies have been blacklisted by international certifying agencies.

This just goes to show that once the genie of GM is let out of the bottle it is impossible to contain, and who knows what the long-term effects will be?

In the malkha process, we are gradually working our way towards using cotton that is neither GM nor a product of chemical intensive agriculture. Rather than have an outside agency certifying the cotton we use we would prefer to create if possible chains of transparency between cotton growers, textile producers and cloth users through regular communication.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

malkha at kala ghoda

Kala Ghoda is a lovely event to be part of. There's song, dance & drama as part of the street festival, something that Western countries seem to encourage more than ours. There are two sections to the bazaar, one in which participants pay a commercial rent, and the other which is managed by Concern India on a non-profit basis for NGOs and craft groups. Due to the number of NGOs wanting to take part and the limited number of stalls available, Concern gives the stalls only for half the festival period to each. So we got to introduce malkha to the Mumbai public at a very reasonable cost, through for only 5 days. The downside of Mumbai shows is the octroi charged on even handloom fabrics, though they're supposed to be tax free all over the country.

As usual the deep indigo sold out in a couple of days. Sutanu's prints did well, and its interesting how each region in India has its very different tastes with regard to colour. Chetana boutique and Sonya Khan of Yellow Leaf, buying for Khazana, were among our wholesale buyers.

My amateur efforts to do a small video on my camera invariably end up with several seconds of shoes & street surface, so I'll spare you those, here instead is a picture of our stall. Hope our technical friend Pramod will send me one of Nandita Das at our stall, looking gorgeous as ever.