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Three data professionals from Bengaluru show how pickles can transform lives

The Hudli Project prevented an entire village from emptying out, by providing its women with employment opportunities.

The tiny dollop of pickle in the corner of your plate or your banana leaf must never be taken for granted. Sometimes it is all it takes to make a bland meal delicious, and lives. The Hudli Project appreciates the transformative ability of pickles beyond the zing they add to individual plates: a subscription-based pickle manufacturing unit in Khadigram, Hudli has prevented an entire village from emptying out, by providing its women with employment opportunities.

The Hudli Project was founded by three Bangalore-based data professionals – Amit Vadavi, Adarsh Muthana and Pronoy Roy. Through their website, the team works on generating sustained employment for 125 women in the Hudli village. Given their experience in data analytics and solving retail related issues, the trio (who met while working at Mu Sigma) connected over the need to apply their skills for a larger cause.

Photo credit: The Hudli Project
Photo credit: The Hudli Project

“We worked for one of the largest retailers and solved retail issues using analytics,” said Muthana. “But we always wanted to do more. We just decided to solve a different kind of problem, where we could employ our skills better, and it would make sense to us as well. Something for a good cause. That is why we decided to quit our jobs and start this project.”

Hudli, located in the Belagavi district of northwest Karnataka, soon became the focus of their work. “Amit’s great-grandfather was a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi,” Muthana said. “He was with him in Sabarmati Ashram, and he was sent by Gandhiji to help set up a Khadigram in Hudli. Gandhiji wanted villages to be the strength of India, and he wanted to set up industries, so that people would stay there and work towards empowering the nation. In August last year, Amit was talking to his grandfather about the village and the Khadigram, when he suggested that Amit should visit the village.”

Vadavi’s visit to Hudli turned out to be more than just an exploration of the family legacy. He found that Khadigram also manufactured soaps, incense sticks, khadi and poppadums. The brand had great products, but the lack of awareness among urban consumers combined with a lack of appropriate marketing channels hampered the growth of its small scale industries. Vadavi shared the information he had gleaned with his two colleagues, and together, they decided to bring digital marketing, e-commerce and good logistics to the villagers.

Photo credit: The Hudli Project
Photo credit: The Hudli Project

“We chose to focus on women-centric job creation as this would translate to all-round strengthening of their respective families and the entire village as a result,” said Vadavi. “The pickle factory in the Khadigram employs only women, other factories have both men and women working on the products. There are about 25 women working on pickles at the moment. Our goal is to provide employment for 100 more women.”

There was also a more practical reason why the trio chose pickles as their main retail product. “Pickles have a low inter-purchase cycle,” Vadavi said. “The time between consumption of various bottles of pickles is less when compared to, say, buying khadi. As a product, the pickle lends itself to both caterers and individual consumers.”

Vadavi’s visit in August 2016 planted the seed for the project, and the team spent the next few months working on the concept, paying multiple visits to the village. The Hudli Project opened its doors to customers in January 2017 with two subscription plans, priced at Rs 1,440 for 18 months and Rs 960 for 12 months of pickle delivery respectively. The pickles come in three flavors – mango, lime and mixed vegetables, and are sold under the brand name “Jawan” after the famous slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”. They are delivered all over the country.

Photo credit: The Hudli Project
Photo credit: The Hudli Project

The team’s video on Hudli village and the goals of this project, has received more than 1,90,000 views and close to 2,700 shares on Facebook.

The Hudli Project now receives support not only from individual consumers but also through bulk purchases from commercial kitchens, restaurants and grocery stores. Even the villagers have noticed the increased attention and the flow of orders. “People can buy pickles anywhere,” Roy said. “They choose to encourage this project because they like the product and they know that support will be extended to an entire village through this simple act. Some of our customers don’t eat pickles, but buy our products and gift them to family and friends.”

The project is entirely self-funded. The trio hopes, eventually, to inch towards their goal of 30,000 customers.

“While our current goal is to make Hudli self-sufficient, on a long term basis, we hope to create a prototype which can be implemented in other villages making them financially independent,” Muthana said.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.