Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tripura Bamboo Mission: Design as a Partner in Grassroots Development Initiatives

Image: Meeting of the Tripura Bamboo Mission at Agartala on 8th December 2007 Chaired by Shri Manik Sarkar, Honorable Chief Minister of Tripura.

The State Government of Tripura has to deal with the onerous complexity of initiating and sustaining development actions in their land which is a locked territory located in the remote Northeastern Region of India lying on the east of Bangladesh and with road and rail connections to the rest of India and the outside world only through a long and difficult path through Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal. Besides this geographic complexity, they also have to cope with the absence of any industry that has taken root in the State over the past fifty years since Indian Independence. The State has also faced a long period of political unrest as well as being impacted by similar conditions in many of the nearby states in the region. Rural poverty is therefore a major problem and the economic condition of the large tribal population in the state is also an area of deep concern. The State of Tripura has a long common International border with Bangladesh and Myanmar but these are closed for all practical purposes due to the absence of trade and political agreements between the countries involved.

It is in this challenging geo-political situation that the State Government announced the Tripura State Bamboo Policy, the first such initiative by any state in the country and well ahead of the National Bamboo Policy which came up later. A number of progressive measures were initiated and over the past few years there have been many development initiatives that have been done by the State including a major conference on Bamboo to discuss the proposed Bamboo Policy, another last year to explore and showcase areas of application and the setting up of a University programme for educating bamboo experts who could help the rural people mobilize their local resources in a systematic manner. Last year the Government invited the IL&FS, New Delhi to take on the task of manning a mission mode development initiative that could move the local bamboo crafts and small scale industry from a gross turnover of about Rupees 25 crores per annum to about Rupees 75 crores per annum in the handicrafts, mats and agarbatti sectors which employ a huge number of people, all to be done in a time bound manner of three years.

The NID teams having worked in the Northeast and in Tripura on a sustained basis for over the past 30 years was identified as a natural partner for providing design supports for this new initiative in the State. Several NID graduates are also included in the list of design support providers while the IL&FS will use their own management and local infrastructure to manage the relationships on the ground and provide the integrated linkages with the Government and all the local stakeholders in the particular locations. The Centre for Bamboo Initiatives at NID (CFBI-NID) has built a body of experience as well as a portfolio of bamboo based designs that are being offered to the Tripura Bamboo Mission along with a framework of locally delivered training and quality establishment processes that could be linked to the matrix of market needs and producer capabilities in the selected cluster in rural Tripura. These actions would be taken through the stages of sensing, exploring, making, evaluating and sharing. Through these stages we expect to grow the participation of our stakeholders in the rural locations and in some cases we would want these to be women’s’ groups who could manage their entrepreneurial ventures themselves. Our faculty and student teams who would be supported by skilled craftsmen who have been trained at the BCDI and capable of supporting the prototyping tasks that we anticipate as we go forward with our design support project in the state.

On the 7th December 2007 we were invited to a formal meeting that was organised by the IL&FS in Agartala where all the partners of the Tripura Bamboo Mission met to exchange a Memorandum of Association with these partners and a Statement of Intent with the CFBI-NID on bringing design skill sets to the activities on the ground. The meeting was chaired by the Honorable Chief Minister of Tripura, Shri Manik Sarkar with an active participation and addresses from Shri Sashi Prakash, Chief Secretary, Government of Tripura, and Shri Tapan Chakraborty, Honorable Minister of Industries and Commerce. The MoU’s were signed between the Tripura Bamboo Mission represented by the IL&FS on one side at the partners on the other and these included one with the ITC Ltd. For development of the agarbatti industry in the State, another with Cottage Industries also for this sector. The Industree Crafts of Bangalore were requested to support market access for rural producers. The CFBI-NID signed a “Statement of Intent” to provide design supports and know how across three broad product categories of fine bamboo loom woven mats, splits and split based furniture and Bambusa affinis based whole bamboo furniture from the Katlamara cluster which would be disseminated to a wider audience that has now taken up cultivation as part of the Tripura Bamboo Mission based on our design demonstrations.

We are looking forward to an active period of partnership with the IL&FS teams in Tripura and with the Tripura Bamboo Mission over the next three years to bring design capabilities to the producer groups in Tripura.


  1. Excelent Blog. As a citizen of Tripura i am very happy to read this blog. Thanks to Prof Rajan.

  2. Dear Mr Jyoti Bhushan Debnath

    Thank you for your comment about the Tripura Bamboo Mission. last month we concluded a workshop with Tripura craftsmen at Bangalore as part of our continuing engagement with the Bamboo Mission in Tripura through the IL&FS team. You can see this post at this link here.
    Bangalore Workshop Link

    Prof M P Ranjan
    from my home at NID
    45 November 2008 at 12.45 am IST

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