With as many as eight Fairtrade-certified enterprises, the idea of Fair Trade is not new to Puducherry and Auroville. It is this which has prompted Puducherry-based Mandala Apparels to join hands with Fairtrade India to launch an initiative to make Puducherry and Auroville the world’s first ‘Fair Trade Twin Towns’, and provide momentum to the Fair Trade movement within India.
The initiative will be kicked off with a 450-km walk by activist Pushpanath Krishnamurthy from Puducherry and Auroville to Udhagamandalam. He will create awareness of Fair Trade practices in these ‘twin’ towns to more than 20 places along the way, and also talk about the interlinked issue of climate justice. Also partnering in the initiative is Puducherry-based NGO PondyCAN.
Anjali Schiavina, founder and managing director of Mandala Apparels which is a World Fair Trade Organisation and Fairtrade India-certified enterprise, said she had been inspired by Bruce Crowther, considered the father of the Fair Trade Towns in the world, to help Puducherry and Auroville earn this title. “The success of business impacts people and the planet. It is possible to create profit without denying someone their fair share. We want to create a circular economy where wealth is shared,” said Ms. Schiavina.
Devina Singh from Fairtrade India said that there were around 1,900 Fair Trade Towns in the world. “As it is not common to have these many Fair-trade-certified organisations in one place, we wanted to begin here in Puducherry and Auroville. Becoming a Fair Trade Town is a year-long process and requires commitment and completion of a set of activities,” said Ms. Singh. She added that with Fair Trade, funds would go into community initiatives.
To ensure Puducherry and Auroville earn the title, community engagement, including awareness activities in schools, would be part of the initiative, said Ms. Schiavina.
Fairtrade-certified organisations in Puducherry and Auroville include Mandala Apparels, Ambala Hammocks, Auromira Exports, Cottage Industries, Naturveda Biotech, Imagination, Maroma and Upasana.
Sunaina Mandeen of PondyCAN said that the programme was being supported by the organisation as it was a step towards sustainability. It was often the women who were most affected by climate change and unfair trade practices. Fair Trade aimed at addressing this, said Ms. Mandeen.
Addressing the press on Thursday, Mr. Krishnamurthy said, “Fair Trade benefits everyone from the cotton grower to the factory owner. It is possible to recreate a new economy based on it.”
While thus far, Fair Trade activities in India had been focusing on the export market, there was now an attempt to tap the domestic consumer market. Fairtrade India had been providing certification in the country for two years and was hosting Fairtrade India weekend activities on November 21 and 22 across India.