For hundreds of families in Falakata, West Bengal, Arecanut is a wonder tree. It gives them a sustainable livelihood and also gives them a daily fuel for cooking.
Here is a short video showcasing the entire process of making arecanut market-ready. In this video, the women were more than happy to see people getting intrigued by the job, it gave them a sense of importance which most people yearn for.
They were women who managed both their household and business and it taught them a sense of ethics and discipline.
The second business that keeps Falakata alive is weaving. A few weavers use a traditional weaving machine to weave a cloth with various prints for the mekhla chadar and the traditional Bengali sarees.
Set in the village of Falakata, with the farmlands adding scenic beauty to it, the various weaving machines and threads intertwining in rhythm was a fascinating sight. It was all happening in less than a fraction of a second. The people who use it may not understand the theoretical physics of it, but practically, they could assemble the spare parts just to make another machine.
In the village of Falakata, it is a common thing for people to have their own manual machines. a handful of people who can afford electricity bills own electric machines.
All the sarees that are woven in these places have some traditional ethnic designs etched on them. The quality of the cloth is excellent but the prices are meagre. The simple people of the village sell these garments from door to door and sometimes in the local markets.
Despite being micro-financed, these people lack the knowledge and guidance to expand and boost their business. We cannot even pit them against a drain theory because most of them have not been exploited by giant firms, they are just simple people who produce excellent products and sell them at cheap rates for daily survival.
Just like a child needs to be guided so that the can make their own decisions, so do these people need to be guided. A lot of them need to be told and showed the way to actually start a business that would give them a decent life.
Here is a video explaining the process of weaving using a manual machine:
Photos and Videos: Nivea Sundarraj
Originally published here, this story is part of the Milaap Fellowship Program. It is a unique opportunity, providing young professionals with a six-month fellowship to contribute to a cause and cover inspiring stories of change.