Note: The following interviews were conducted by Mr. Ramalingam, Administrative Manager of HR at Texport Industries, and written/transcribed by Nandita Batheja, editor and educator at art & eden.
This week we are acknowledging Fashion Revolution Week that falls on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1138 people and injured many more on 24th April 2013.
art & eden is dedicated to transparency, authenticity & sustainability and we believe it is our responsibility to ensure that our choices do not come at the cost of people or the planet.
art & eden childrenswear is made by Texport Industries who run a number of social initiatives, trying to improve the lives of their employees and the towns in which they work. Some of their programs include providing additional vocational training for their garment workers, hosting free medical camps every quarter, running a free hospital and employing and supporting differently abled persons.
Meet some of the makers.
Mr. A. Selvaraj, Ironing Master (47 yrs old)
Mr. Selvaraj works as an ironing master at Texport Industries in Tirupur. Originally from Pondicherry, Mr. Selvaraj now lives in Tirupur. He has been at the factory for 13 years. He lives with his wife, Mrs. Kasturi, and their two kids.
Like many proud and dedicated parents, Mr. Selvaraj works hard to put his children through school. His daughter, Miss Jeevitha, is currently getting her bachelors degree in computer science at LLR College. Mr. Selvaraj’s salary from the factory allows him to pay for Jeevitha’s education; no small or insignificant feat! His son is also beginning to learn computer basics. One of Mr. Selvaraj’s main ambitions in life is for his children to become well-versed in computer languages so that they all have a chance to improve their lives and their place in society. Getting a college degree will allow Mr. Selvaraj’s children to have more opportunities in the workforce, and greater possibility for promotions and continued learning. When asked about his greatest aspirations, Mr. Selvaraj always speaks of his children. He is always thinking of their welfare, and dreams for them to have a healthy, happy life.
So what does an average day look like for Mr. Selvaraj? During the week, he wakes up early for his fitness. He either attends yoga classes or goes for brisk morning walks. After that, he gets ready for work and rides his cycle to the factory. His workday begins at 8:30 am and goes until 6:00 pm, with a lunch break in between. Mr. Selvaraj is vegetarian and his favorite food is vegetable rice.
When he returns from home, he spends time with his wife and children, sitting with them, talking and helping with homework. In his off-time, Mr. Selvaraj also loves taking his children out for day trips and activities.
Mrs. D. Saraswathi, Checking / Quality Control (41 years old)
Mrs. D. Saraswathi has been with Texport for 4 years, working in checking. Originally from Coimbatore, she now lives in Tirupur with her husband and their two sons. Both their sons are studying engineering: Mr. Sriram is getting his bachelors in electrical & electronics engineering, and Mr. Goopi is getting his bachelors in civil engineering at Nanda College. She is very proud of her sons and hopes they will be able to go far in life with their education.
A hard worker from morning to night, Mrs. Saraswathi attends to the housework and cooking early in the morning before work, preparing food for her husband and sons before they head out for the day as well. She gets to the factory by 8:30 am, walking there after she has finished her morning housework. She leaves by 6:00 pm, also walking home.
Mrs. Saraswathi is non-vegetarian and loves chicken biryani. Often for lunch at work she will have rice and sambar or another rice based dish.
Having only received formal education up to the 3rd standard (equivalent to the 3rd grade in the U.S.), Mrs. Saraswathi feels that her children becoming engineers is a lifetime achievement. She is very family oriented, and likes to spend time with them during their free moments. Her aspirations mostly center around her children and focusing on the family’s survival and wellbeing.
Mr. Prakash, Tailor (48 years old)
Mr. Prakash is a tailor at Texport, and has been there for over 15 years! He lives with his mother, wife, son and two daughters.
Originally from Dharmapuri, Mr. Prakash moved to Tirupur for work and for the opportunity to develop and make his own home. After many years of hard work, he now is well established. His eldest children are currently in college. Mr. Prakash is proud that he is able to give them a good education. His son, Mr. Hari Prasath, is getting his bachelors in engineering. His daughter, Miss Koila, is getting her bachelors in agriculture. His youngest child is still in middle school in the fifth standard (equivalent to the 5th grade in the U.S.).
Mr. Prakash takes a motorbike to work, arriving at 8:30 am and leaving by 6:00 pm. His main goal with his job is to arrive on time and work hard. His real love centers on his family, so he sees his hard work as a means to support them and help them thrive.
Mr. Prakash describes himself as having a very calm and obliging nature. When he isn’t working, he likes going on tours to nearby places with his family. He says these trips are lots of fun and make them all very happy.
Fashion Revolution is a global movement that works for a more sustainable fashion industry, campaigning for a systemic reform of the industry with a special focus on the need for greater transparency in the fashion supply chain.
Find out more about Fashion Revolutions week here: