Helping Artisans bloom
POOL|POOL 88

Social entrepreneur and designer, Subrata Pandey has a vision to create a better life for marginalized communities by guiding them to use their creative skills

What led to your passion for Indian tribal culture and crafts?

SP: I grew up in Rourkela, a small city in the western belt of Odisha, an area that was predominantly tribal but lacked traditional craft practices other than bamboo and pottery. My dad is a state government doctor and I often spent time with his tribal patients. I was drawn to the local farmers’ markets. In time, I began watching cultural shows on television such as the popular Surbhi, which played a vital role in shaping my interest in Indian craft. I was lucky to have complete freedom as a child to do whatever I wanted in my personal space of madness but I was equally drawn to learning and had a thirst for knowledge. I believe my own quest, my environment, and great parenting fuelled my passion for art and craft.

After completing my graduation in crafts design from Indian Institute of Crafts and Design (IICD), Jaipur, I went on pursue post graduation in liberal arts from Ashoka University in Sonepat. I believe when you embark on a journey of self-learning, no readymade knowledge will help you. It is through your own discovery and failures that great learnings will come to you. My recent experience at the Harvard Business Executive Leadership program for managing non-profits has been the most rewarding experience of my life.

What is the story behind Punarnawa Crafts?

SP: It is a bootstrapped model that accidently and rather quickly started with a skill training workshop in January 2011. Today I am founder and managing director! I was a recent graduate from IICD and had returned to Rourkela after having acquired some work experience from various places in India. Khamir (Kutch), where I did my final design diploma project, was instrumental in shaping my journey. In December 2010, I was asked by an Art of Living devotee to give a workshop to juvenile kids; the experience moved me from within. I was then asked by Rourkela Steel Plant to map the potential of the villages near Rourkela city as part of their CSR activity. My then business partner and I went ahead and organized a training program with 65 women on 28 January 2011. Most of them were handling needles for the first time! They were trained in appliqué work and the result was marvelous. I didn’t have the heart to leave them after that. I believe all this happened due to the train line blockage by the Gurjars in Rajasthan in January 2011 – I had to keep postponing my journey to take up a new job, and had enough time to carry out this social experiment as a result. Sometimes delay is good for an unplanned destiny.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM POOLView All

The perfect balance

Aniruddh Mehta is as much graphic designer as visual artist, and he tries to do justice to both through his work at Studio Bigfat

5 mins read
Designindia
Designindia 114

The Nature of Light

Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth of Klove Studio combine the delicacy of hand blown glass with the sturdiness of metals to create a breathtaking range of lighting options.

6 mins read
Designindia
Designindia 114

The Creative curve

As partners at GCD Studios, graphic designers Shahana Jain and Devshree Sahai contribute enthusiastically to the ‘creation of ideas without boundaries’.

10+ mins read
Designindia
Designindia 114

All ABOUT SCALE

A well known industrialist, Dr. Naushad Forbes is Co-Chairman, Forbes Marshall, India's leading steam engineering and control instrumentation company. He is on the Board of several educational institutions and public companies and was recently listed in the Indian Express list of the 100 most influential Indians. His is also a familiar name in Indian design circles. As former Chairman Governing Council National Institute of Design (NID), and Chairman India Design Council (IDC), Dr. Forbes has been able to work at bridging the still large gap between industry and design in the country.

5 mins read
Designindia
Designindia 114

NO NEED TO HIDE

By encouraging traditional leather artisans to explore recycled rubber and other material, Sudheer Rajbhar is giving them the opportunity to keep their skills alive

3 mins read
Designindia
Designindia 114

A NATURAL INSTINCT

Nibha Sikander’s 3D figures of birds and insects are intended to draw attention to the wonders of nature. She tells Sonalee Tomar of ‘The Indian Curator’ how she was drawn to the art of paper-cutting.

4 mins read
Designindia
Designindia 114

A moving experience

Amrish Patel and Darshan Soni came together to share a common vision that has since come alive through striking explorations of kinetic art

6 mins read
Designindia
Designindia 114

The Richness Of Handmade

Amit Vijaya and Richard Pandav are committed to bringing together many hands and hearts through their clothing label ‘amrich’

6 mins read
Designindia
Designindia 114

Bringing Ideas To Life

Creative Director at her eponymous design studio, Sharon Nayak picked up the camera to bridge the gap between her creative vision and its photographic execution

8 mins read
POOL
POOL 108

The Striking Right Note

Johnny Ganta might have made a career in music if he hadn’t chosen to work at being a master visual storyteller instead

8 mins read
POOL
POOL 108
RELATED STORIES

Women & Spirituality

MIRABAI BUSH is the author of Working With Mindfulness, co-creator of Google’s “Search Inside Yourself” program, cofounder of the Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and a founding board member of the Seva Foundation. She teaches contemplative practices, and has facilitated retreats, workshops and courses on spirit and action for over 20 years. To commemorate International Women’s Day, Mirabai spoke with PURNIMA RAMAKRISHNAN on March 6, 2021.

10+ mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
May 2021

Reincarnation And Realpolitik

China, India, and the U.S. are vying to influence the selection of the next Dalai Lama

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 19, 2021

An Exclusive Interview With Nandakumar Narasimhan

The Little Red Train

10+ mins read
Lens Magazine
March 2021

A Room for Dad

Before Mom passed, I made a promise to her

8 mins read
Guideposts
April 2021

THE DANGAL IN THE JUNGLE, PART 1

YOU KNOW YOU’RE SOMEBODY WHEN YOU’VE APPEARED ON AN INDIAN DANGAL POSTER — IN OTHER WORDS, IN A WRESTLING ADVERTISEMENT.

6 mins read
Black Belt
April/May 2021

WOUNDS AND THE WOMB

JULIE PETERS explores how to heal a relationship with the sacred womb, a place of death, life, and possibilities.

8 mins read
Spirituality & Health
Mar/Apr 2021

BE SQUIRRELY

Giant squirrels, giant lessons? Animal chaplain SARAH BOWEN explores what squirrels can show us about mindfulness.

4 mins read
Spirituality & Health
Mar/Apr 2021

E8 Caste and the Indian Tech Ivies

IIT grads are highly sought after in Silicon Valley. Are they bringing deep-rooted prejudices with them?

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
March 15, 2021

Life Changing

I was happily married, happily employed, just plain happy. Until the accident

8 mins read
Guideposts
February 2021

IN SEASON Chickpeas (GARBANZO BEANS)

Chickpeas appear in early recordings in Turkey well over 5000 years ago. India produces the most chickpeas worldwide but they are grown in more than 50 countries. An excellent source of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, B vitamins, and some minerals, they are a nutritious staple of many diets. The name chickpea comes from the Latin word cancer, referring to the plant family of legumes, Fabaceae. It is also known by its popular Spanish-derived name, the garbanzo bean. Kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, and peanuts are other familiar foods found in this legume family.

1 min read
Alternative Medicine
February 2021