Nari Hastkala Udyog Samiti (NHUS) worked from Varanasi between 1992 and 2000. Debate on alternative and rooted traditions of knowledge , movement of farmers seen as movement of the bahishkrit samaj and the women’s movement of the 1970-80s constituted the backdrop against which the samiti had crystalised seeking to answer fundamental questions related to emancipation of the women.The idea of nari-vidya and local market was central to it.
Strengths of women were seen primarily as flowing from their knowledge, skills, values, methods of organisation and communication and the natural disposition characteristic of them. This Samiti, a group of women, put together by Dr. Chitra Sahasrabudhey, engaged in both theory and wide spread practice to evolve a new standpoint which eventually in collaboration with others emerged in the name of lokavidya and local market.
Publication of the Samiti and those brought out by its collaboration find clear articulation of its views. These include a journal Bharati , two issues, (1993-94); a booklet Bharatiya Stree, (1996); Karigar Samaj, four issues, (1997-1999) and first issue of Lokavidya Samvad brought out as a women’s special issue, 1998.
The workers of the Samiti developed extensive interaction with women in the unorganized sector like vegetable vendors, weavers families, bead makers, toy makers, and those doing sewing and stitching. They also developed extensive interaction with housewives across the social classes. This was essentially to investigate the nature of their knowledge and work. Nari-vidya Shivirs, training and orientation workshops and women’s conferences with local markets for women’s products in the districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh constituted the main stay of the work among the people. Such work found its height in large scale contribution by the Samiti in the organisation of the Third Congress of Traditional Science and Technologies of India, the Lokavidya Mahaadhiveshan. These activities find their reporting in various documents. These are-
Varanasi nagar ki sabjiwalian(1991)
Hastshilpa Udyog: Samaj mai striyon ki bhagidari punah badhane ke adhar(1994)
Swadeshi Vigyan Karyashala, Gandhian Institute of Studies, Varanasi, 1-3 Oct. (1993).Participation of NHUS by Presenting two research papers and an exhibition of products prepared by women.
A survey of women’s knowledge in villages of Varanasi District.(1995).
Nari Hastakala Udyog Sammelan aur Pradarshani in Varanasi(1995)
Nari Hastkala Udyog Sammelan aur Pradarshani in Ghajipur, Jaunpur and Mirzapur(1995).
The Third Annual Meet of NHUS.
Two concrete issues where specifically focused upon and pressed for solution. One related to space in the local market for the products of women’s work and the other to a larger policy of protaction to women’s work in the area of food and clothing. These points were pressed before the district administration through representation and through active organisation of local markets for women in the crowded bazaars. Gloabalisation was increasing the squeeze on both these making women’s knowledge less effective as a means for the support of their family. These issues related to market and areas of food and clothing connected Samiti’s work to the Gandhian Stream in the National Movement. Lokavidya and local market were the sweeping ideas with which the samiti joined the knowledge movement through the CTSTI, followed by Lokavidya samvad and now in Vidya Ashram.
Chitra sahasrabudhey (President), Shahnaz Parveen (Secretary 1992-95), Reva rani Day, Premlata Singh (Secretary 1996-2000), Kanchanbala, Chanda Yadav, Urmila Singh, Anu Pandey, Meera Pal, Radhikadevi, Seema Yadav, Shakuntala Sharma, Mayadevi, Mubarako Begum, Shahjahan Begum, Bhagmani.