Kushalta Ke Kadam
Kushalta Ke Kadam
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With Usha Silai School's Support, Women From The Northeast Make It To The East India Fashion Week

With Usha Silai School's Support, Women From The Northeast Make It To The East India Fashion Week

Kushalta Ke Kadam, an initiative by NDTV and Usha, has entered its eight year, with the aim of empowering women from rural India by enabling them on the path of self-sufficiency. This time it is going to villages near border areas, villages tucked away in remote regions, to give the power of livelihood to women through a sewing machine. One of the women empowered by the initiative is Durgarani, an Usha Silai School entrepreneur from a small village in the Pakyong district of East Sikkim. Durgarani's transformative journey began when a sewing machine entered her home, at the time when the country was hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Like others, Durgarani and her family were compelled to stay home as per the lockdown rules. But she utilised this time watching tutorial videos on YouTube on how to make masks at home.

At that time, I did not have a sewing machine. So, I started by cutting the cloth and sewing it by hand. This is how I got associated with sewing and created several masks.

Also Read: USHA Master Trainer Reena - An Inspiration For Women Of Kota, Rajasthan

In 2022, Durgarani got an opportunity to turn her sewing skills into a livelihood. At the time, Usha and SIDBI organised a nine-day special master sewing and stitching training programme, at the Viswa Vinayaka Temple in the Rhenock Block. The members of the panchayat gave Durgarani's name, as they were aware of her interest in sewing. Her simple experiment of learning to stitch through YouTube videos, took her into the world of sewing and the Usha Silai School programme. Talking about her experience, Durgarani said,

We all stayed at the training centre. We used to stitch till late at night as we were so interested in learning the skills as much as we could in those nine days. It was Shukla and Renuka ma'am who taught us sewing and stitching.

Now, in her journey of becoming an entrepreneur, Durgarani will travel to Gangtok, where she will open doors to the world of garment designing and craftsmanship. Another beneficiary of the Usha Silai School is Lalita Rai, a native of the Agrigaon village in Pakyong district. She was also selected for the special sewing training programme when a team from Usha Silai School visited her village. She is now an Usha Silai School entrepreneur. Ms Rai was one of the 25 women from her ward to be selected for the special training programme. But she was sceptical of joining the programme while handling the house chores. But it was her daughter, Sarika, who gave her confidence to attend the Usha training. Later, Ms Rai and other women signed a contract with the government to make school uniforms, on which they worked for two months.

Also Read: Uttar Pradesh's Godavari Trains Students Through The USHA Silai App

This not only increased the confidence of Ms Rai and other women, but it also led to the opportunity to take part in East India Fashion Week in Guwahati, Assam in April 2023. The fashion week was curated by the Northeast India Fashion and Design Council. It showcased the craftsmanship of women who trained in the Usha Silai School centre. Durgarani and Lalita Rai were among the 10 women, from Sikkim, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Mizoram, to collaborate with five renowned designers to create garments which were showcased at the fashion week. Talking about the partnership, Rakesh Sharma, Chief Executive Officer of East India Fashion Week 2023, said,

We wanted to give these women tailors from Usha Silai School an opportunity to understand not just tailoring, but the whole business of garment. We recognised top five designers from North-East India, including Tersing Dolma from Sikkim, and Nandini Barua from Assam, among others and collaborated with the tailors of Usha Silai School to create a collection to show in the Fashion Week.

Talking about her experience at the fashion week, Durgarani said,

I never imagined that I would come this far. We got to participate in this event because of Usha Silai School, which made something out of nothing with us.

The journey Durgani and Lalita Rai have undertaken to get to the fashion week from their district of Pakyong goes beyond a simple trip of 500 kilometres. Salam Thoibi Devi, from the Moirang Village of Manipur is another beneficiary of the Usha Silai School. She was one of the 10 women, who participated in the fashion week, Talking about her experience, she said,

Usha Silai School is the reason why I am standing here today. The fashion week helped me to show the world my creativity through my products.

Medha Saikia, Founder and President of North East India Fashion and Design Council, said,

This year we have partnered with Usha  Silai School, and it's really working for us because Usha promotes working with rural women, providing them sustainable livelihood, training them, giving them the push to start their own venture.

Also Read: Salma Bano's Journey From Facing Financial Hardships To Becoming A Successful USHA Silai School Teacher

Talking about the significance of such associations, Saikat Naskar, Regional Manager, North East Usha International Limited, said,

The importance of such association is that the women have shared their desire that in future they want to open their own brands, their own labels and they have a dream to have their own collections which they want to launch and they have that kind of energy and that kind of creative talent with them. So this is a platform through which they can showcase their talent and the learnings which they have taken up through the Usha Silai School training, this is the opportunity through which they can show that they can take their learnings to the next level.

Alok Shukla, Senior General Manager, Usha Silai Services, said,

This exposure will help the women to earn their way better through sewing and stitching. And with this kind of association, they are getting engagement with designers. As part of the Silai School program, they are actually sewing and stitching input but this kind of association, they are actually getting designing input as well.

The East India Fashion Week not only provided a strong platform for women from the Usha Silai School, but going forward, it will also extend the reach of Usha's programme in the Northeast region. Mary Rupa Tete, Vice President, Usha Silai School Services, said,

The idea was for women to gain the understanding of what fashion is, what design and quality is all about and work closely with the best designers of the country. The main object was to create a platform where women just don't stay at the livelihood level, but also get the opportunity to design and make their own collections. That is the future of Silai School and it has already started unfolding.

The East India Fashion Week featured more than 30 designers, which gave the women of the Usha Silai school a great opportunity to connect with industry experts, helping them get a sense of the fashion industry and market trends to these budding women entrepreneurs.

Fashion Designer Nandini Baruah, one of the designers to collaborate with the women of Usha Silai School, said that she was glad to be associated with the cause that works towards the upliftment of women.

Meghna Rai, another designer, said,

It was quite interesting for me to work with these ladies who had come over and they tried to understand what I was trying to explain to them. They took a deep interest in learning so I felt nice working with them. It was a good experience and overall till now it is good and yeah we are looking for more.

The partnership between Usha Silai School and East India Fashion Week has created an opportunity for Silai School Women entrepreneurs to gain hands-on industry experience, and expand their work opportunities. These women are writing their story not with a paper and a pen but with a simple piece of cloth, a needle and some thread. They are amongst the thousands of women who have gained financial independence and opportunities all because they learned how to stitch and sew. Truly Kushalta Ke Kadam.

Also Read: Minaben - The Woman Who Embraced Her Struggles And Flourished As An USHA Master Trainer

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Adopt a Silai School

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Do you want to be a part of the huge change that Usha Silai School is bringing about in the lives of millions of rural women? With just a simple click of a button, you can now contribute towards the opening of an Usha Silai School or support various other aspects of the school.

About the Initiative

About the Initiative

Kushalta Ke Kadam, an initiative by USHA Silai School and NDTV has entered its eighth season. The aim is to empower more women across rural India by teaching them sewing skills and helping them open new doors of opportunities for themselves. The initiative encourages rural women to become financially independent and entrepreneurs by taking up sewing and training others in their respective communities.


Since 2011, the USHA Silai School initiative has trained more than 12 lakh rural women through over 33,000 Silai schools, spanning over 20,751 villages across India.


The women earn Rs. 4,000 – 5,000 per month on an average, with the highest recorded monthly earning being Rs. 84,000 in a month. This earning works as a catalyst towards building their self-confidence, reducing gender inequities, and raising their stature within their families and in society at large.


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In Pics

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching
Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Rebari girls grow up learning traditional embroidery, which along with their new found sewing skills developed at Usha Silai Schools, is helping them earn a living.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School has empowered many rural women to support their family and send their children to school.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

The Usha Silai School, established in a small nondescript village that goes by the name of Kottai, is helping empower people from varied communities.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

The all-inclusive Usha Silai School Programme covers the entire nation from hamlets tucked between hills to villages cast by the sea.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Vegetables farmers from the Mizoram hills earn very little given the topography of the area. Usha Silai Schools have played an important part in this region by skilling women to financially contribute towards their households.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School learner Lucy has trained seven other women in her community, helping them to become financially independent.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Women like Kaviben from the nomadic Rebari community are finally laying down their roots as they begin to gain financial independence and thereby stability through Usha Silai School.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School, located in the Gujarat's Bhuj village, is enabling rural women to earn as much as Rs. 2,500-4,000 each month.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School, in association with a Gujarat based NGO called Kala Raksha, is trying to bring about a Silai revolution in Bhuj.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Besides training other women from their community, many Usha Silai School learners have become entrepreneurs in their own right.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

With sewing becoming easily accessible and lucrative, the silai schools are also helping revive traditional motifs and designs.