Jamshedpur: The ‘ACT for Women’ project at Mohanpur, a small village a short drive away from Jamshedpur, is now five years old. Begun in 2018 by Ammucare Charitable Trust, a pan-India non-profit organization established by Mohanji, global humanitarian and philanthropist, the project’s declared aim is to improve the lives of the underprivileged people of the region across, among others, education, healthcare, empowerment, and environment.
The project appears to have delivered many positive outcomes—the most significant being the beginnings of a brand that combines rural women’s empowerment with sustainability.
The women’s skill training centre, which started from a single room with no electricity teaching embroidery and sewing, now sells products under “Ahimsa Imprints”. Madhusudan Rajagapolan, CEO, Mohanji Foundation, a sister organization of Ammucare, says that the ‘model’ brand lives the principles of sustainability, non-violence, compassion, and respect for all beings.
“Mohanji is a spiritual teacher and a humanitarian. His aim is to promote peace, love, and compassion among all beings. All our volunteer-driven initiatives across 15 countries across 5 continents–these include meditation, self-development programs, and social service projects—are aligned with this ideal,” says Mr Rajagopalan.
Ahimsa Imprints products include home décor and utility products such as cushion covers, table mats, runners and coasters, wall art and fashion accessories such as bags and totes, scarves, fabric jewellery, and organisers. among others. Besides occasion-specific event and conference gifting products, yoga mat bags, meditation mats, and chanting pouches are created for spiritual and wellness retreats.
“Ahimsa Imprints is based on the ideology of ‘Empowered Women and Responsible Products’,” says Nikunj Naredi, Vice-President, Ammucare, and Lead of the ‘Act for Women’ project at Mohanpur. “Our focus is on minimal fabric wastage with a hope to reach zero wastage. Fabric scraps and cut-outs are not thrown away, but instead sorted and stored to be used later in innovative and creative ways for product creation.”
How well is Ahimsa Imprints doing? “We’ve delivered for the IVF Centre of the Army Hospitals at Pune, Bhopal and Delhi, customised Diwali gift orders, masks orders for corporates as well for Mohanji USA and Canada; and customised orders for cafes,” says Ms Naredi.
Future plans are to establish, within India and globally, the Ahimsa Prints brand as an authentic expression of India’s indigenous art traditions, she says.
An example of this is recreating Jharkhand’s traditional Sohrai painting in embroidery. “Painting has always been the medium, whether on a wall in tribal homes, paper or fabric. But we believe that Ahimsa Imprints is the only concerted re-creation of Sohrai in embroidery,” says Ms Naredi.
Ms Naredi, who also heads the School of Fashion Designing at Jamshedpur’s ARKA JAIN University, brings to the project top drawer capability and experience. Her CV lists the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) as her alma mater, as well as her experience with several marquee brands such as Gucci, Armani, Valentino, Heidi Klein, Marie Chantal, and Susann Eschenfelder, among others.