Sustainability is not a process. It’s a ways of living life. And being eco-positive, maximising employment and putting a tab on depleting resources is something that the global and Indian fashion industry has been striving towards for the past few years. For carrying this baton for over three decades to help empower craftsmen and be ecologically conscious, textile revivalist, conversationalist and fashion designer Madhu Jain was conferred the prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskar 2017. She was given the award on International Women’s Day (March 8) by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, at a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
She is among 30 women and nine organisations who were rewarded for being catalysts of change. Hailing craftsmen as the heroes, Jain says, “The truth is simple, there would be no indigenous handlooms sector without skilled craftspeople – from weavers to embroiderers – all of whom have finely honed proficiencies that cannot be learnt overnight. Theirs is a considerable competence that comes from generations of learning and practice. Artisans are irreplaceable. To my mind, ethics in fashion is increasingly becoming important, and we need to be responsible on the ramp and off the ramp, too. Part of our responsibility lies towards nurturing the wealth that originates from the nimble fingers of our artisans. And the way to respect and nurture their profession is to ensure markets for their work.”
The award also recognised Jain’s contribution to innovating with textiles, like her Bamboo-Silk Ikat textile, which is biodegradable and leaves a negligible ecological footprint, and took over 15 years of work to create.