New Zealand Objection to Chinese Textiles vs. Ayurvedic Burqas in S Arabia

The Chinese manufacturing miracle is showing its real face. It is clear from many recalls such as those of toxic toys in millions. I wrote about this earlier. In many cases, it is only due to very poor business ethics. Our manufacturers must learn lessons and must prevent something like that to happen for Indian goods. Those who are only contract manufacturers such as auto component manufacturers must understand the total product specifications of the OEM or have the responsibility of the quality control with OEM.

Chinese are also not sitting idle. They have stepped up efforts to cleanse reputation. However, two news reports that appeared recently in print media are interesting for its contrasting approaches.

New Zealand is confronted with a controversy on excessive levels of chemical formaldehyde in children’s clothes imported from China. Formaldehyde is a chemical preservative that gives a permanent press effect to clothes can cause problems ranging from skin rashes to cancer. A lot of controversies, accusations, and finding faults are appearing in newspapers.

From India, a story of Ayurvedic textiles appeared in press. Burqas made in the Ayurvedic way are the latest export from Balaramapuram, a tiny village on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, and a craze in Saudi Arabia. In the past few months, Rajan whose family has been in the trade for 600 years, has exported about 4,000 burqas to Saudi Arabia. Last year, Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society exported clothes worth Rs 2 crore to the US, UK, France, Mexico, South Africa and Japan. The struggling Kerala handloom weavers have rediscovered the ancient art of weaving organic clothes.

Here is the story in Rajan’s own words:

”In Ayurveda, these fabrics are called Ayurvastra. Only natural cotton and colouring is used so that they are free of toxic irritants. These are also treated with medicinal herbs as prescribed by Ayurvedic texts to improve the healing value.”

As claimed, clinical trials at the Government Ayurveda College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram showed that the fabric was quite effective, especially in cases of skin ailments and arthritis. As part of the test, patients were constantly exposed to Ayurvedic herbs through Ayurvastra for 30 days. Even the curtains in the room, linen and mattresses were made as prescribed in the ancient Indian treatise, Charaka Samhita.

Ayurvastra can cure ailments ranging from dermatitis to arthritis, from blood pressure to diabetes.

The manufacturing is tedious and demands 100% purity. Only firewood is used, that too different one for different medicines, natural spring or ground water and organic cotton. The gum for fixing the colours, too, is natural and varies depending on the medicine. After dyeing, the clothes are dried in the herbal garden. Even the factory building is organic – to avoid radiation on the clothes – and uses lime and gum extracts from wild trees in place of cement and sand.

Rajan says, ”Ayurvastra can spell a revival for us. But there is little help. The Vajpayee regime helped us. Even the Japanese government recognised our efforts and gave us Rs 20 lakh assistance. But there’s been no help from the state government.”

”The demand for Ayurvastra is increasing. But there are impediments like lack of organic cotton. Japan and France demand a certificate that it is organic.”

Why should the Kearla government not help these weavers? Is its secularism coming on the way? India has a great history of textiles. Just as the ayurvastra of Kerala, there are many special and unique textiles from different regions. India can easily be the second largest, if not the largest exporter. It can excel, if it innovates to make it contemporary and safe and acceptable in every manner to the targeted customers.

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