Who doesn’t remember the “Jawan” movie and the iconic role of Jailer played by Shah Rukh Khan? In that movie, the female prisoners were the ones who contributed to the welfare of the society. Well, imagining all this happening in real life is difficult.
But what if I say that there are prisoners in Assam who are working for the conservation of the environment by making jute products for the start-up, “Jute Story.” All this is possible because of the Jute Queen of West Bengal, Chaitali Das who trained these prison inmates and even provided them with employment in her start-up.
Let’s read about this Jute Queen who changed the perspectives of common people towards the prison inmates by becoming their guiding light and giving them the chance to become the better human being.
Chaitali Das- Jute Queen of India
Chaitali Das is a humanitarian social entrepreneur who is a renowned name among the top manufacturers of Jute in India. 50-year-old, Chaitali Das is commonly hailed as the Jute Queen in West Bengal and beyond.
Born and brought up in Alipore, West Bengal, Chaitali Das is a social worker who went on promoting this golden fibre. Since a young age, she has actively participated in social work through her well-established Rakshak foundation. Not only this, she took the initiative to help the prison inmates of Assam by giving them a medium of livelihood so that their families could live a better life.
Exploring the lives of the people behind bars
The inspiration to help the Prison inmates came to Chaitali in childhood as her house was located between Alipore Central Jail and the Presidency Correctional Home. This unconventional backdrop of her house has always fascinated her and she always observed the lives of prisoner inmates closely.
Being the daughter of a lawyer, just like every excited child, she used to visit her father’s office including the police stations where she experienced close encounters with the people of Central Jail. Well, the strange location of her house and her childhood experiences shaped her perspective as she grew up. Her close encounters with the prison inmates invoked curiosity in her to learn about their lives.
To lessen her curiosity in childhood, Chaitali used to watch movies that depicted life behind bars and how people lived under those circumstances. Since her house was near the jail, around night, she used to hear the police interrogations and the screams of the people. However, those screams didn’t instil the fear in her but the sympathy for those prison inmates.
There is one such incident that left a deep impact on her when she was around five years old, her father took her to the courtroom where she noticed how the culprits were brought to the courtroom all tied from the rope and how their family members were crying helplessly.
Chaitali noticed the sufferings of those families and felt obliged that she should do something for them. At that young age, she was certain that she would do social work for the welfare of society.
As she grew up, Chaitali worked with the various NGOs for several years and helped the people. Then in 2015, she established the “Rakshak Foundation” which aimed to help male and female inmates including underprivileged people. Initially, through this foundation, Chaitali worked in the correctional home and taught Spoken English to the people. Later started other projects like cookie making with the female inmates and also introduced yoga, and woodwork and conducted the plantation sessions.
“Jute Story”- Jute Startup in India
Under the Rakshak Foundation, the most significant project that was started by Chaitali was “Jute Beyond Bars” in which she provided the proper training sessions to prison inmates of Assam to craft the jute products. She knew that West Bengal has the largest jute industry involving approximately 40 lakh people. Thus, Chaitali decided to train the inmates with the skills of creating jute products and she took help from the “National Jute Board of India” to train these prison inmates.
She provided the 45-day training session for the prison inmates and their first successful session was held at the Dandam Central Correctional Home, benefiting the prisoners there. With time, they have trained more than 3000 prison inmates and now their initiative has turned into a big startup, “Root to Jute”. Once they get trained and their terms get completed, Chaitali also gives them employment in her start-up.
Taking the Golden fibre on the Global stage
Today, this startup is also known as the “Jute Story” and it has gained tremendous fame at the national and international level. This start-up has sold its jute products globally, reaching countries such as Canada, Central Asia, and North America. Through this startup, Chaitali has revived this golden fabric into something trending and fashionable.
Understanding the need for eco-friendly fashion, Chaitali has initiated a global campaign, “Jute for Climate Action” to promote diverse jute goods as fashion statements in packaging, accessories, stationery, home décor, and utility sectors. Her startup creates products like handicrafts, rugs, and handbags.
Knowing the unpopularity of jute among the youth, Chaitali has created a diverse range of products that are specially designed for the youth. She still hopes that as her productions are increasing, so is the younger generation will also started to use Jute.
Top 5 Jute Production States in India
In addition to making Golden Fibre, a globally fashionable brand, their products have the prison inmates’ lives better. From providing training to giving them employment, Chaitali has changed the perspectives of people towards the prison inmates. She understood their sufferings and tried to contribute to the betterment of those people who were confined in the four walls of the jail.
She understood the viewpoint of the people towards the prison inmates as they were labelled as culprits and wrongdoers who deserved the punishment. However, helping these prison inmates to engage in craft activities for the betterment of the environment, has brought some changes in the perspectives of the people.
By choosing the prison inmates as her workers, Chaitali has proved that people can change their path from wrong to right if they are provided with the right kind of knowledge and some sympathetic kindness.
Mad4India really appreciates Chaitali for her thought-provoking idea of conserving nature and also empowering the prison inmates about whom we rarely thought.
Frequently Asked Questions
Name some famous Jute Products Manufacturers in India
3. Jute Bag Factory
3. RK Enterprises
When does Jute Production in India start?
It was started in Bengal in 1856.
Which is the largest jute textile industry in India?
If you loved reading the story of Chaitali Das and her innovative startup, then do read about the real-life story Of the “12th Fail” Fame – Manoj Kumar IPS!