During seventies and eighties the Indian handmade carpet industry had a sizzling pace of growth. Massive demand for carpets from western shores outpaced the supply because the huge demand led to shortage of weavers.
Resultant there was huge influx of labor from the neighboring states. To exploit the opportunity extensively, child labor too was brought in droves.
Thanks to a few activists, this horrifying reality came into light in the later part of the eighties.
The terrible news got wings and spread like wild fire which reached to countries of the west which were the chief consumers of this craft.
Carpet importers became wary and as a precautionary measure started asking for affirmation that the carpets being supplied are free from child labor.
But the damage has already been done.
The industry which was going at a fast clip saw sharp drop in its export simply because magic of media reached even to consumers who avoided buying handmade Indian carpets.
IKEA, a Sweden based multinational, which bought Indian rugs in great quantities, found itself in a tight spot.
At one point in time it was about to stop sourcing carpets from India but good sense prevailed and it decided to bring discipline into its Indian suppliers.
Thus I-Way (Ikea-Way) came into existence which required that its suppliers should follow the norms set in its I-Way - norms which required abide by not only tenets spelled in its I-Way but Indian labor law should also be adhered.
No doubt, besides Ikea, there appeared many non-profit organizations (NGOs) who are still working for the elimination and rehabilitation of child labor of this industry.
But the greatest catalyst of them all, I believe, was Ikea and its I-Way, which was very effective in making the general public aware of the abuse and making the Indian carpet dealers' observant with the vulnerability to the trade from this immoral practice.
Many manufacturers even got themselves registered with organizations such ISO and other Social Compliance Audits
Undeniably these measures contributed considerably to fight the abuse of child labor from this industry but the problem is still prevalent not insignificantly.
Problem still exist simple because carpet industry is cottage industry and is spread deep into the unapproachable hinterlands.
In fact, I believe, that active involvement of the whole industry can prove effective to wipe the problem from its root.
The idea is that each manufacturer worth its salt must take up a social cause that is targeted for the welfare of deprived children.
At this end, we at AAFRIIINZ intend to adopt the village Nai Bazar - a village where we live-in - with the objective of taking its people in confidence.
This undertaking, we believe, becomes possible if our approach is value based - if we are able to make people aware with the values of life - that is caring, sharing and sensitive to social mores.
If we are sincere, it won't be hard to make these simple folks to partner for this common cause.
May be we prove ourselves an example to be followed by others.
And, of course we would like that our audience be a part of this problem-solution process to and send their suggestions if they feel like so.
We already have a dormant blog which we intend to make lively once we are able to start turning our mission into reality.
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Tags: business, ethics, publicity, advertising, pr