Introduction

Jute Story Beyond Bars is a meticulous industrious project of Rakshak Foundation under the Jeevika Rakshak Initiative of the organization, in collaboration with the Directorate of Correctional Services,Government of West Bengal,India.

▪ It provides livelihood skill options to the inmates of Correctional Homes in Jute products and the Foundation renders a payment to the “West Bengal Prisoners’ Welfare Fund” which eventually gets distributed in the bank account of the artisans under the project “Jute Story Beyond Bars”

▪ The project commenced in January 2017 in the Dum Dum Central Correctional Home and later at Presidency Correctional Home, the former being the largest Correctional Home inWest Bengal having over 3,500 inmates.

Objectives of “Jute Story Beyond Bars” Project

▪ There are 78 jute mills in India and 61 out of them are in West Bengal as of 2018.
▪ Engaging Human Resource languishing behind the Bars in West Bengal through Skill Development Training.
▪ Provide Entrepreneurship training to women and youth from disadvantaged backgrounds for development of MSME sectors.
▪ Providing recognition to inmates for their work,a sense of purpose,self esteem and confidence when they come to the Jute unit for work everyday.
▪ Provide a stipend to the inmates support their family’s needs even from behind the bars.
▪ To revive the dying Jute industry in India and promote the Golden Fiber of West Bengal as a biodegradable and Eco-Friendly alternative to non-biodegradable products.
▪ To stir up a positive attitude towards Jute amongst all. Prompting Jute as a Sustainable Fashion Statement for a Green Eco-Friendly Environment.
▪ Linking ”Jute Story Beyond Bars” with the UN SDGs 2030 and weaving the world together with love, compassion and unity.

Impact

There are 6 key success measures of our project are as follows:
Lives impacted: 25,000 as of 2018
Number of Inmates Impacted: more than 300 inmates and their families
Production Capacity: 500 products/day which amounts to 13000 products/month.
Trainings: Completed 3 trainings under National Jute Board i.e. Basic, Advanced and Design Trainings.
▪ Promoted Inclusivity for the incarcerated and the marginalized and provided recognition to the artisans beyond stigma.
Production Variety: Initially the inmates made products like jute Shopping bags and Gift bags. Now they have progressed to make finer Jute Utility and Diversified Products such as Home Décor, Ladies’ Bags, Office and School Utilities, Luggage Bags, Clothing and Accessories.
▪ Provided Skill Development Training to women and youth from disadvantaged Backgrounds.

History of Jute in India

▪ For centuries,jute has been an integral part of the culture of East Bengal and some parts of West Bengal.

▪ Since the seventeenth century the British started trading in jute.More than a billion jute sandbags were exported from Bengal. It was used in the fishing, construction, art and the arms industry.

▪ The industry boomed throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. However,the trade largely ceased by about 1970 due to the emergence of synthetic fibers like nylon,polyester that are more cost efficient and durable.

▪ More than 55 Jute mills have shut down in the last 3 fiscal year.

▪ About 3.5 lakhs farmers are dependent on cultivation of jute and mesta and about 2 lakh workers get direct employment in the jute industry.

Facts About Jute in India

▪ 60% of the World’s total jute is produced in India. It is estimated that it produces 11494 bales of jute annually.

▪ Annually India produces 1968000 MT of Jute.

▪ Top 5 Importing countries of Jute from India are USA, Ghana, UK, Cote D Ivoire, Germany and Nepal.

▪ India exported Raw Jute worth $335 Million in 2017-18

▪ India exported Jute Diversified Products worth $93 Million in 2017-18

▪ There are 78 jute mills in India and out of them 61 are in West Bengal as of 2018.

Milestones Achieved

▪ Created awareness among people of the general public through participation in exhibitions such as:
BIMSTEC- with a footfall of approx.2.5 lakhs
SAARC- with a footfall of approx.3.5 lakhs.
IITF Delhi- with a footfall of over 1.5 lakh/ day
IIMTF Kolkata- with a footfall of approx.4 lakhs.

▪ Created awareness in over 5 lakhs people through other exhibitions like Artisans Speak and Jute Expo 2019, Leather and Textile Fair, Annual Art Fair and Festivals of Arts Acre and several exhibitions organized by Directorate of Correctional Services Govt.of West Bengal like, Presidency Correctional Home Mela, Sharad Mela 2017,Diwali and Durga Puja exhibitions.

▪ Promoted the jute handicrafts made by the inmates of Correctional Home to more than 1.5 lakhs people from the affluent class by displaying our products in high end stores like TOILE Mumbai, TOILE Kolkata, Oxford Bookstore Kolkata and Good Companion Kolkata.

▪ Promoted the use of eco-friendly Jute in the lower to middle strata through our store on a boat at the Floating Market in Patuli, Kolkata with a footfall of 1000/day.

▪ Showcased the versatility of Jute and promoted Jute as a Fashion Statement to more than 2000 people from the affluent class by participating in various renowned Fashion shows in Kolkata like Allure Fashion Tour, Ordnance Club and Lake Club.

▪ Showcased and promoted the expansive range of jute diversified products in the categories of Home Décor, Shopping Bags, Gift Bags, Ladies’ Bags, Clothing, Accessories, Office and School Utilities in illustrious school fests like “Udaan” of South Point High School and “Zephyr” of Delhi Public School, Newtown with an average footfall of 2500 people of all age groups.

Sensitizing Society Towards Acceptance of the Incarcerated Population

▪ Created an example by rehabilitating and hand-holding a former under-trial by making her the supervisor of Jute Story Beyond Bars.
▪ Since the inception of Jute Story Beyond Bars,we have rendered an amount of INR 1,25,000/- to the West Bengal Prisoners’ Welfare Fund against the production of approx. 20,000 Jute products.
Rakshak Foundation popularized the Jute Story Beyond Bars Project running in the Dum Dum Central Correctional Home and earned recognition for the Jute Artisans in the Correctional home at various National and International platforms like Uganda – India Business Conference 2019, Corporate Governance Sustainability Vision Summit 2019 organized by Indian Chamber of Commerce, Women Symposium organized by Lions Club International, AFT Miss & Mrs International Pageant 2018 held in Dubai,Women’s Leadership Summit Kolkata 2018.

Awareness of use of Jute & Artisanal Skills of Inmates Through Media Representations

▪ Jute Story Beyond Bars has featured in renowned Newspapers and e-Newspapers like Telegraph, The Times of India, Outlook, Kolkata 24 Hrs, Business Standard, United News of India, Protidin Sangwad, Eibela, Ei Samay, Aajkaal, Kolkata Calling and more creating awareness of Jute and its diversity in over 1.5 Million people.

▪ It has also featured in prominent News channels like Sanmarg Online, 24 Ghanta, Channel 10, CN News, ArtAge India, Bangla Time, Kolkata TV and Khabar Bangla, Voice of Republic creating awareness of the eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to the non-biodegradable alternatives, handicrafts made by the Jute artisans of Correctional Homes and highlighting the reform measures taken by Directorate of Correctional Services, Government ofWest Bengal in the Correctional home in over 1 Million people.

Awards Received

Our Production Unit in Dumdum Central Correctional Home