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INSHAA-E-NOOR – HEART OF THE BASTI

Aishwarya Seth

Introduction

The Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti is 700 years of living heritage. The urban renewal initiative that took place consisted of the conservation concerning a considerable socioeconomic development which was executed through a centre-based community that had a cooperative approach. The objective of this initiative was to improve the environmental conditions and firm up the important urban services with mediating of the core ideas of sanitation, education and health. All the programmes begin with the assessment study of the quality of life.

As it is a Muslim dominated Basti there was fear that it will be destroyed. 95 per cent of the population is Muslim and 5 per cent population is Hindu and Christian based. A polyclinic was developed in the Basti and during the year of its origin, there were various problems that were faced such as the machines being dysfunctional or there was an absence of machines, proper medical tests were not being conducted and there was a shortage of doctors. Eventually, the people who wanted to grow and succeed from the community were gathered together which led to the formation of self-help groups like Sehre Nizamuddin.


Skills

The Nizamuddin Basti incorporates various self-help groups and one of the groups is Inshaa-e-Noor, it carries out paper cutting and embroidery work. The name itself, Inshaa-e-Noor refers to the creation of light, the work done is conducted on the basis of 5 skills- Sanjhi, Paper cutting, Ari embroidery, Bookbinding and Tailoring. The tailoring unit began in 2009, in the beginning, the main focus was tailoring as the women living in the


Basti were familiarized with this skill, gradually new skills were learned and worked upon.

The women started with the fieldwork in the Basti and with the process of stitching garments like suits and sarees, it was the dominant skill that was practised as compared to others. With time more women started to join the Inshaa-e Noor group and established new skills by learning and observing the various concepts of craft. Currently, the bookbinding unit is creating tons of diaries.

Back in the day the unit just used to produce the Noor notebooks which went outside for embroidery, paper cutting and binding work but now the women carry out the entire procedure by themselves. The diaries are put up in the shop of the Basti for sale during the Weekly Sunday market leading the products to have created a great outreach to customers. This led to the group receiving orders from reputed companies like Fabindia for paper bags and more. The products have reached the scale to fit into the cottage level industry, the registration for the industry is under process and the products by Inshaa-e-Noor are flourishing and gaining immense success. The Raw material for these utilitarian products is obtained from places like Chowari Bazaar and Paper World.

Challenges

Like any other women based workgroup in this country, the women of Inshaa-e Noor also faced difficulties at the time when the group was established. One of the obstacles faced by women when they wanted to learn how to stitch was that they did not get permission from their family to step outside the house as they were suspicious of the location they might be visiting. There were restrictions created in the family by the husband or the Mother-in-law who prohibited the women of the house to go out and work with Inshaa-e-Noor, they were strictly homebound and not allowed to roam here and there.

Eventually, things started to change and more and more women started to turn up and that was possible only by a collective effort taken by each one of them at the Basti. Rehema, one of the women working with Inshaa-e Noor stated that we used to visit the houses of the other women and spoke about the income we received monthly and the opportunities available to learn new skills. This motivated the women to be a part of the self-help group and gave them the confidence to step outside the house.

The mindset of the family started to change with the onset of money being earned by the women of the house, giving them the allowance to practice their work without any restriction. Irrespective of the changing mindsets, Noor provided the freedom to work from home in case of any difficulty faced on the home front. The activities like paper cutting and stitching came with an added benefit to be carried out by sitting at home.



Conclusion

The facilities provided by Inshaa-e-Noor are commendable. There is no boundation of time and with the freedom to work from home, they even have permission to bring their children to work. In the changing times and with the increasing freedom for women to work, the ladies of Inshaa-e-Noor make sure that their children, especially daughters, go to work and have decent jobs. One of the ladies said that her daughter is doing a government job and she or the family have no issues with it, they are happy and satisfied as the daughter is adding income to the family. On the other hand, the income received by the ladies working at Noor is largely based individually and is transferred in their separate bank accounts towards the end of the month, each member of the self-help group and even new members who are just beginning to work have a bank account created without fault.

Apart from the individual account in the banks, there is even a separate group which is formulated where the ladies in accordance to their preference can deposit a certain amount of money to the group account which is for saving money that can, later on, be used as loan by Inshaa-e-Noor for various purposes,” said Radha, member of the self-help group. The beginning of a self-help group all those years back has led to the women in today’s time to be well settled and have a structured lifestyle where they can work on what they love and can attain a decent income. Inshaa-e-Noor was the ray of hope and acted as a saviour, providing the women with a sense of safety and security and a family outside their home on which they can count on. One of the main reasons that the Basti has flourished is due to the existence of such self -help groups and the various opportunities provided became a stepping stone in reducing the struggle.

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