South Asian cross-culture alliance eyes greater rural self-reliance

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on March 29, 2015

'SASSIAN Journey' engage artisans, thinkers from S. Asian nations on rural economic regeneration

Eyeing a sustainable rural livelihood through traditional skills and cultural diversity, experts, grass-root workers and artisans from South-Asian nations discuss cross-culture collaboration to boost self-reliance.

At the first South-Asian Festival, titled the SASSIAN Journey, which began on Saturday in New Delhi, leaders from different social background congregated to explore ways of sustainable rural livelihood by using traditional skills and exchange of knowledge among South Asian community. 

At the 4-day event, representatives from the 9 South Asian countries- India, Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan focused on issues of livelihood, rural innovations, employment and regional collaboration.

"This is a good initiative to sensitize people about the traditional knowledge, which is slowly fading away. This is more sustainable than the current economic model, which revolves around the urban economy," said Ela Bhatt, founder of Self-Employed Women's Association of India (SEWA).

Women artisans from desert district of Gujarat along with salt farmers, rural workers among others have joined the neighbours at New Delhi.

"Our aim is economic regeneration of the rural economy by reviving the rich traditional skill-based traditional occupations," said Rajeev Sethi, Founder, The Asian Heritage Foundation, which is conducting the SASSIAN Journey with collaboration from UNDP, World Bank, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC and SEWA. The festival aims to reverse de-skilling of artisans and revive the rich traditions of South Asia and to provide the traditional artisan with dignified options.

On Friday, a group of delegation visited operational areas of SEWA to explore and understand the traditional skill-led occupation in the region. "This is an effort to bring back the feeling of traditional skill-led occupation in the South Asian region. We will have about six people visiting from Pakistan for the event and that will include textile artists, curators among others," said Hameed Haroon, chief executive of The Dawn newspaper and president of All Pakistan Newspapers Society.

The Festival held a series of trans-disciplinary workshops, events, performances, symposium, exhibitions and fairs. It is seen as a major step towards collaboration between Organizations and stakeholders from the South Asian nations and for creating a live network of creative and cultural industry practitioners for the sustenance of traditional knowledge systems and skills.

The initiative is hailed as the launch pad for sustainable and cross-cultural collaborations of South Asians across the globe.

Published on March 29, 2015
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