18 September, 2020

A Worker's Collective In Orissa Learns To Weave Dreams With Reality

A Worker's Collective In Orissa Learns To Weave Dreams With Reality
At first sight, this short, stock lady with untidy hair looks unimpressive. But look again, for this woman is the catalyst of economic change for at least 50 Dalit families of Maha Bhoi Sahi in the outskirts of Bhubaneshwar. Rashmi Rekha Dash runs a 'coir processing factory' which employs 50 women workers, mostly destitute, on a 'shareholder' basis. The factory, called Maa Mangala Coir Ropes, isn't a grand affair—it's just a thatched shed with five pairs of manual coir yarn-making machines or charkhas. But then, 32-year-old Rashmi faced heavy odds just to get her factory going. An only child, Rashmi was dispossessed of her patriarchal property, her husband Pramod was handicapped after an accident and even her factory was destroyed in last year's super cyclone. But Rashmi had a core of resilience. She parted ways with her father and left her job as factory supervisor after the owners refused to pay the medical expenses of a worker who lost her fingers while at work. She also took on the Coir Board for illegally selling the coir fibre used as raw material for ropes. All these...


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