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‘Growth of SHGs crucial to women empowerment’



The growth of native Self-Help Groups is crucial to the nation’s development and women empowerment, said Odisha’s Energy Minister Pratap Keshari Deb while speaking to Abha Shakti members (women self-help groups) at a programme organised by Tata Power Central Odisha Distribution Ltd. (TPCODL) here on the eve of National Handloom Day.

The event was organized to recognize the crucial role played by Abha Shaktis who have been trained under the Roshni (Skilling) program of Tata Power, to become social change agents. The women have been provided with livelihood skills through digital tech and knowledge of power Discoms’ consumer-centric operation viz. Meter reading, Billing, and Collection (MBC) activities enabling them to become self-employed.

“I am glad that TPCODL is partnering with the Government of Odisha to foster women empowerment while promoting our heritage. This unique initiative by Tata Power and Tata Trust will set an example for Corporate India to partner with grass root communities, while embracing regional culture, leading to holistic development,” said Minister Deb.

Abha Shakti members were presented with hand-woven Ikat sarees and specially made Dhokra badges during the event. TPCODL plans to distribute over 2,000 sarees to about 1,000 Abha Shaktis in the coming days, company sources said.

Essentially a Tata Affirmative Action project, this handloom saree promotion initiative is aimed at empowering underserved weaver communities of the state and is also the company’s tribute and humble contribution to the larger agendas ‘Make in India’ and ‘Make in Odisha’ while endorsing its rich culture & heritage.

The bespoke sarees designed by upcoming young native designer, also has elements inspired by Odisha’s culture like Konark Wheel and the domestic hand-made designs used in rural house-holds during Lakshmi Puja. The sarees aptly showcase the unique craftsmanship of local handloom weavers of the State, and were made to order for Abha Shakti members from local weaver clusters from Maniabandh (Cuttack), Gopalpur (Ganjam), and Khurda.

A total value chain of over 6100 families, directly and indirectly, benefitted through the entire program apart from the Abha Shakti members who will receive two sarees per person, making this a unique collaborative handloom project involving public-private partnership.

Besides sarees, handmade Dhokra art badges were also presented to the Abha Shakti members. These badges are made of non-ferrous metal casting that has been traditionally used in India for over 4,000 years. One hundred village artisans from a social enterprise crafted the badges for Abha Shaktis.

Speaking on the occasion, TPCODL Chief Executive Officer M. Shenbagam said, “Our Abha Shakti members act as change agents, inspiring communities while contributing to TPCODL’s social development agenda. To recognize our proud association, we have crafted this new identity for them, which is an amalgamation of traditional Odia craftsmanship and new-age techniques, promoting native culture. We hope they wear this new identity with the same pride, which we carry in our partnership with them.”

 “This initiative is also a testament to our motto ‘With You, For You, Always’, nurturing the native heritage along with the best of customer service. We are also grateful to the Odisha Government for their support and encouragement for this initiative,” he added.

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