“...Human resources have become more important than natural resources in determining the wealth of a society…the best interests of every society will be best served if its future leaders can be adequately prepared for an unusually demanding future.”
- His Highness The Aga Khan
When in the year 2007 the P-P-P (public private partnership) agreement was signed between the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Aga Khan Foundation, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Archaeological Survey of India and Central Public Works Department, it was envisaged by His Highness the Aga Khan that heritage conservation should be a stepping stone for socioeconomic development. It was then that the “Nizamuddin Basti” (a 700 year old living heritage situated in the centre of the capital) formed an important part of the Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative with an overall objective of improving the quality of life of the residents of the basti. A series of initiatives was started in the areas of health, education, urban improvement, cultural revival etc. One of the most important and essential part of raising the socioeconomic standards is livelihood generation.
With the same intent, Insha Crafts Center, a women’s livelihood unit,
was set up in the basti in the year 2010.
Insha-e-Noor is a response to the 2008 Quality of Life finding that only eleven per cent women in Nizamuddin Basti had their own source of income.
It began as a skill-training program for the women of Nizamuddin in the year 2008. Stitching and tailoring were chosen in consultation with the community and also because we needed an activity that would be acceptable to the largest group of women and could be home based. Insha-e-Noor is now a production centre gradually taking shape of a full-fledged, independent enterprise. Insha-e-Noor associates itself directly to close to 80 women of Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin who work at the crafts centre, and indirectly to many others who work at home after learning their skill from the centre.
At present, there are around 80 women practicing the craft forms of aari embroidery, hand embroidery, tailoring and crochet in Insha. They receive on the job technical training in the above mentioned skills by skilled trainers, and also, are exposed to various soft skills training including life skills and SHG (self help group) training for overall enrichment of their personality, learning and confidence. The product range handcrafted by the members is branded as Insha-e-Noor and is marketed through various platforms.
The main objective of Insha Crafts Center is to not only hone the skill sets of these women and give them a source of livelihood but also help them grow as empowered, confident and independent individuals.
Insha-e-Noor aims to provide enhanced and dignified livelihood opportunities to the women involved through craft based skills. Their own money earned by using their own skills is a step towards greater control on their own lives. It is their journey towards regaining their lost identities. They are not just trying to earn money but also earn respect for themselves, in their families, their community and most importantly in their own eyes. Thus, apart from income, Insha-e-Noor also works to provide them with a safe working environment, exposure to the outside world, and skills to enhance their confidence. The members of Insha-e-Noor are also constituted in small Self Help Groups, where in they regularly engage in savings and inter-lending.
Currently supported by the project, the women enterprise aims to achieve sustainability by expanding the scale and scope of its operations and thus supporting more and more women in the near future. With a vision of running Insha-e-Noor as a community owned and managed enterprise, the members not only get trained in their respective craft skills but also in other soft skills like enterprise management, Self Help Group management.
The products of Insha-e-Noor are being marketed through various platforms including a permanent kiosk of the brand in the grand Humayun’s Tomb, various craft retail shops, exhibitions etc. Insha-e-Noor also takes on customized orders for design houses and large retail chains like Fab India.
Being part of a group and having an income of their own has made a difference to the quality of lives of the women members and their families.
The women members of Insha-e-Noor under the supervision of dedicated instructors produce a range of beautiful products marketed under the Insha-e-Noor brand. Most of these handmade products are made using motifs inspired by the ensemble of Mughal monuments of Nizamuddin Area especially Humayun’s Tomb. This is in line with the larger project’s objective of heritage conservation as the stepping stone for socio-economic development.
Nazrin (35) loves to watch TV dramas with her daughters! Her proudest moment was when she used her first IeN paycheck to buy an AC for her home. She wants the group to keep growing until it supports every woman in Nizamuddin Basti. Nazrin is part of the Insha-e-Noor family.
Azra (35) is proud that her income allows her to support her 4 children. She makes the clothes for her whole family and loves experimenting with different colors and fabrics! Her dream is to one day travel all over India. Azra is part of the Insha-e-Noor family.
Shahnum (38) is a founding member of Insha-e-Noor! In her spare time, she volunteers as a home health aide in Nizamuddin Basti. Shahnum is a part of the Insha-e-Noor family.
Shahnaz (35) has two sons! She loves that her work allows to supportive her son’s dream of becoming an engineer. Shahnaz is a part of Insha-e-Noor family.
Farida (50) likes to watch old time Hindi movies. Whenever she has free time on weekends, she takes her grandsons to India Gate! Farida is part of the Insha-e-Noor family.
Rani (43) learned crochet when she was a teenager, but the Insha-e-Noor trainings taught her how to make specific items like handbags – “now I can make lots of different products in all different colors!” Rani is part of the Insha-e-Noor family.
Amrita (39) loves the creative process and likes to experiment on different handicrafts in her free time esp with newspaper! She is grateful that she can spend her income on her children and their education. She loves it when there are really big orders that the whole group gets to work on together. Amrita is part of the Insha-e-Noor family.
Nagesh (20) loves watching movies with her friends! She uses her income to get new clothes and jewelry for herself. Her favorite memory with the group was attending her first IeN meeting. Nagesh is part of the Insha-e-Noor family.
Osma (30) is a mother of 3! She loves that the group continues to add new and creative products to the catalog – “it gives me the opportunity to learn more skills in Sanjei (paper cutting.) Osma is part of the Insha-e-Noor family.