A job tailormade for prisoners

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on June 29, 2018 Published on June 29, 2018

A stitch in time Sewing machines being presented to inmates of Presidency Correctional Home in Kolkata   -  Debasish Bhaduri

Menswear firm Turtle, Bengal team up to train inmates in apparel making

Starting this August, you may be able to grab a ‘handwoven’ shirt made by the inmates of the Presidency Correctional Home in Kolkata.

The Kolkata-based menswear company Turtle has tied up with the West Bengal government to provide two months of training to 50-odd inmates, all serving life terms, to make finished products right from cotton fibre.

The company has set up five handloom machines, two ginning and 12 stitching machines in the correctional home, entailing an investment of around ₹8 lakh. “We are in the process of finalising how to brand these shirts, which are likely to be priced around ₹2,000-2,500 a piece,” Sanjay Jhunjhunwalla, Chairman & founder, Turtle Ltd, told BusinessLine.

Per the initial assessment, up to 120 shirts can be made in a day. They will be available across the 100-odd flagship stores of Turtle.

While the wages are yet to be worked out, the chosen 50 inmates may be paid slightly more than the average daily prisoners’ wages, said Sanjoy Mukherjee, Principal Secretary, West Bengal Correctional Services. Per the prevailing wage structure for inmates, unskilled workers earn ₹80 a day, semi-skilled ones get ₹90 a day and skilled workers, ₹100 a day.

“We are yet to take a call on the wages for the shirt-making project. But it will certainly be higher,” Mukherjee said.

Apart from giving additional income, which the inmates can use for the benefit of their family, such projects also aim to equip them with specific skills that are marketable and also bridge the monotony of prison life, he added.

Scaling up

According to Mukherjee, previously there have been tie ups with NGOs and smaller entities for several projects. However, this is the first time that the department has tied up with a corporate to explore the possibility of scaling up on a commercial basis.

The initiative, which is currently a corporate social responsibility project for Turtle, could be scaled up to a commercial level at a later stage.

“The toughest part would be to ensure the quality of shirts produced. If that can be done, we can certainly look at scaling it up,” Jhunjhunwalla said.

Published on June 29, 2018
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