Impacts & Follow-ups
An exhibition titled Living Lightly ~ Journeys with Pastoralists, covering the land, lives and livelihoods of Indian Pastoralists at IGNCA, New Delhi in December 2016 was organized by Sahjeevan. The exhibition had been well-received by senior cabinet ministers, leaders of major political parties, leaders of the pastoral community from regions across the country, government officials, policy makers, universities, schools, media, prominent designers, filmmakers, and citizens of Delhi. The exhibition also brought together practitioners from different parts of the country whose efforts, experiences, feats and failures were highlighted at the exhibition. And as envisioned, the exhibition led to some meaningful outcomes, all of which are, of course, in a nascent stage. Some of the significant outcomes have been -
a) FSSAI, the food standards regulator of India, made an announcement recognising camel milk as an edible food item, thus fulfilling a long standing demand by camel herding pastoralists, their associations, and civil society organizations based in India, especially Sahjeevan and LPPS. Since then, the Government of India has issued a grant to Amul Diary, to enable them to initiate the camel milk diary in Gujarat. This is in the process of getting set up. The the national media has also taken significant interest in the benefits of Camel milk and the state of camel herding in India. This has helped promote camel milk; and has also led to the development of a nascent but premium market for camel milk in some some cities in India with a private player - Addvit Foods - procuring milk from the herders in Rajasthan and Kutch at a premium rate, and marketing chocolates and milk powder through online platforms like Amazon.
b) The first edition of the exhibition in Delhi also hosted a number of workshops and conferences, during which pastoral people from other States requested the organizers to work on the their economic, cultural and policy issues across region. These discussions have since, led to Sahjeevan initiating the Center for Pastoralism (CfP), a nationwide organization which will anchor projects on pastoral rights, livelihoods, breed registration and research on pastoral systems.
c). The Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India has taken sustained interest in the issue of pastoralism since the exhibition which saw an active engagement of the affiliated Ministers with the exhibition/consultations. The Ministry has directed the State Governments to institute support for recognition and conservation of pastoral livestock breeds. The Government of India will partner Sahjeevan to organize a national workshop in Ahmedabad on this issue. This workshop will see the launch of pastoral breed recognition programme.
d). Universities expressed their interest to integrate multi disciplinary studies on pastoral systems within their course curriculum. More specifically, talks are ongoing with Azim Premji University to partner with The Centre for Pastoralism to initiate the same.
e) A detailed value chain analysis of indigenous sheep wool as been initiated by Khamir, a craft resource organization. The study will be completed by the end of this year, and put into the public domain. Khamir, in partnership with the Central Wool Development Board is in the process of putting together a programme for research and development to make sheep wool more accessible to the textile markets.
f). The Delhi edition of the exhibition had also focused on pastoral aesthetics and crafts, and this has inspired many leading designers and design houses to start working with pastoral crafts. It is worth noting that recently many fashion designers from India and overseas have developed collections based on Pastoral costumes and some have even acknowledged the influence Living Lightly has had on their work. In fact, five Indian designers recently showcased their work (based on pastoral costumes) at a major international competition and won first prize.
g). The academic conference generated interest amongst researchers to engage in fresh research on pastoralism in India. Talks are afoot with IIED, UK for partnering research agendas. Also, a dedicated edition on pastoralism by the magazine SEMINAR is being planned.
g). The media and modest online presence, word of mouth publicity and interest from pastoralists themselves, has led to requests from two cities to take the exhibition there - both from significant pastoral presence. Ahmedabad in Gujarat and Bangalore in Karnataka.