The yarn of Vasundhara has been spun into, and braided with the tale of how Urmul Trust grew as an institution, and eventually as a family of organizations, since its earliest days.
Survival and livelihood issues forced their way in, at the very top of the list of priorities.Soon it became apparent that however urgent famine relief works were in the short run, there was a need to create more avenues to make regular and sustained employment available over a longer period of time in the vil- lages surrounding Lunkaransar.
Vasundhara grew out of Urmul’s earliest efforts at putting together income generation and craft development programmes, by finding markets for locally available materials and skills. Of the latter, one stood out. More wool grew in Bikaner than in most other places, and most people had always spun it. As a cottage industry, spinning took off. But stocks of spun woollen yarn started growing alarmingly too, before too long. That brought about a collaboration arrangement with weavers from Phalodi, who, before they went away to form their own highly successful organization, the UMBVS, taught workers from among the neediest in the villages around Lunkaransar, the skills and dexterities of weaving. But Vasundhara had to braid together other skills too, besides spinning and weaving, to grow. Dyeing and professional design inputs were added, and before long, considerable exposure to, and experience of, craft exhibitions and marketing had taught its workers to tune into the demands, whims and fancies of urban markets.
Product designs and ranges began to change and grow. Vasundhara fabrics, garments, and furniture have come to acquire a distinct look and image over the years. Vasundhara has come a long way. But there is still a long road ahead, with its own curves and pit- falls. Due to a fast growing agricultural economy in the region following the availability of canal water, staff turnover is high, and continuity suffers. For managing an operation which must integrate a large number of skills from group organization and training, to spinning, dyeing, weaving, design, production, buying and selling in the market, to book keeping and planning successfully, and continuously, a certain continuity is essential.
Squeezed as it is, between maintaining continuity of production in the face of rapid staff turnover, and remaining responsive to market needs and thus commercially viable at the same time, Vasundhara’s growth chart has had its ups and downs. However it is learning to survive. Can an organization that was born as a response to the challenge of survival and livelihood in a harsh world, afford not to?