The Weekend Leader, by KavitaKanan Chandra, Mumbai

 

Caption – At Fabric Plus, workers are appreciated for what they do and not given designations for their jobs

 

G Thakuria lost a decade in his life. He will not tell you what he was up to and it is anybody’s guess, given the fact that he is in Assam’s Chhaygaon, which was once a hotbed of insurgency. But today, Thakuria has found his calling – at the Fabric Plus factory. Chhaygaon, 70 km away from Guwahati, has transformed over the years with the Assam Government developing it as an industrial growth centre.
Fabric Plus, on its part, has touched the lives of many like Thakuria. Founded by DilipBarooah, who was the first to cash in on the changing scenario, the industrial unit is a symbol of the new emerging industrial Assam.
One day he chucked them all, even leaving behind the wealth he earned due to some legal tangle and was back in Mumbai. However he had 27 years of textile experience, contacts and lot of goodwill. “I was back to square one. From driving BMW to riding Bus Number  11,” says Barooah philosophically. But there was a burning desire to establish a company that deals with weaving and exporting of pure silk products made of exquisite Eri, Muga and Mulberry/Pat silk exclusive to the Northeast.
It was a passion for Assam silk, the immense potential it had offshore by value addition and innovation that has seen Fabric Plus catering to fashion giants like Armani, Hugo Boss, Just Cavalli, Chopard and Moschino among other brands.
Barooah started from scratch in 2003 in a 100 sqft garage space with three members and almost zero investment. They started with R & D and sampling of pure silk product and soon became a registered silk exporting company.  Within a year their turnover was Rs 14 lakh and there has been no turning back since then. The projected turnover in 2010 is Rs 700 lakh, almost double of the previous year’s.
As a social entrepreneur for Chhaygaon,  Barooah has helped the region’s growth. The Eri silk spinning mill alone has impacted the lives of 350 spinners and weavers and benefitted 4500 people engaged in silk/cocoon rearing and marketing. “Just two years ago there was absolutely nothing in this region, no source of income for the educated youths but with the Fabric Plus project an industrial atmosphere is building up,” says TrailokyaBurman, a team member at Fabric Plus.
Burman echoes Barooah’s dislike for titles and designations that stem from the exploitation and everyday human rights violation he saw in the Mumbai mills as a young manager.  “We are all part of a family, everyone cooperates and there is no designation whatsoever,” says G Thakuria. Adds Barooah:  “The workers were paid peanuts, worked in unhygienic conditions, forced to do overtime and when I was the general manager my work was not to run the textile mill but find ways to retrench labour.” This pained him and he vowed to treat his workers as team members with due respect and dignity. He practises what he preaches and his visiting card is sans any designation. He feels a sense of déjà vu reading Robin Sharma’s international best seller ‘The Leader Who Had No Title’ for it echoes his thoughts in many ways.
“Once the people who feared bombs now see their women folk cycling to work, changing their lifestyle and heralding betterment in economy, health and work ethics,” says Barooah. Apart from Chhaygaon, Fabric Plus also has factories at Amingaon (Assam), Dhatrigram (West Bengal) and a unit for hand spinning of Eri silk yarns at Mirza (Assam).

 

Hailing from the non-descript town of Margarita at the tip of Assam, bordering Myanmar and Arunachal, Barooah studied textile technology in Guwahati. He joined a textile mills in Mumbai as a manager in the early eighties. He rose to the level of General Manager and became the highest paid technician in the metropolis. Later, he shifted to Germany and South Africa, enjoyed the high life, what with a six-figure monthly salary, a bungalow with swimming pool and a BMW to boot.

The Telegraph – Textile firm targets 50000 jobs

Dilip Barooah at his office-cum-showroom in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos

 

Guwahati, Jan. 21: A Guwahati-based manufacturer of Assam silk is eyeing creation of at least 50,000 jobs in rural Northeast in the next five years.

Fabric Plus, a textile firm having 500 employees and 46,000 people indirectly associated with it, intends to create the jobs by associating with communities in the region and promoting Assam silk among them.

“We are promoting eri silk in Mizoram and Nagaland where we provide not just mentoring on entrepreneurship but also supply equipment. In Nagaland, we have associated with three groups. Besides, we are also doing the same in Meghalaya, Manipur and Sikkim. In Arunachal Pradesh, we have tied up with the sericulture department to revive old designs,” DilipBarooah, managing director of Fabric Plus Pvt. Ltd, told The Telegraph today.

The business model of the textile firm is rooted to tradition and creation of livelihoods by harnessing culture and technology. “We sustain our model on five Fs – farm, fibre, fabric, fashion and foreign. Then again technology induction among the weavers is a priority,” Barooah said.

“We are looking at creation of one lakh jobs by 2019. Women empowerment is a priority area, which we are working on in association with the Netherlands-based Women on Wings. Fifty-five per cent of our direct employees are women,” he said.

The firm started operations from Mumbai in 2003 and shifted its base to Guwahati in 2006, with a factory each at Amingaon set up in 2007 on the outskirts of the city and Chaygaon commissioned in 2009, about 46km from here. Fabric Plus also has an office in Calcutta.

The firm today shifted to a new office-cum-showroom in the Jonali area here.

“Currently, we are a Rs 23-crore turnover firm and export to as many as 23 countries, including China. But our focus is on the domestic market, which comprises about 80 per cent of our supply,” the textile technocrat said.

The company’s average sales have grown by 900 per cent over the past 11 years. Currently, it has 16 retail outlets across the region. “We are also working on a franchise model of operation,” Barooah said.

Since last year, the firm has switched focus to high-end brands, considering its demand overseas. “As it is Fabric Plus is an established brand by now. Now we look to appeal to both global and domestic markets with high-end brands such as Ereena, an eri silk brand launched last year,” he said.

The firm plans to come out with another high-end brand, Yes-North-East, shortly. “This brand (Yes-North-East) is about uniting a workforce comprising communities of the region. It is about diverse textiles, handlooms, cane and bamboo and organic food of all the northeastern states,” Barooah said.

Assam Times By Dilip Barooah | Saturday, May 1, 2010

 

Dubai, April 17: The Assamese Community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) celebrated RongaliBihu on 16th April last, with traditional fervor and gaiety.

This year a record of over 250 people gathered at the Metropolitan Palace Hotel Dubai for a cultural evening featuring popular guest artistes from Assam as well as local pool of talents from UAE. The guest artistes to have graced the occasion coming all the way from Assam were JayantaNath, MonishaBordoloi, PrijyaHazarika and Prayashi Bora.

The Chief Guest for the Program was Mr. Sanjay Verma, the newly joined Consul General of India based in Dubai. The Consul General accompanied by his wife MrsSangitaVerma, congratulated the organizers for the excellent display of traditional Assamese attires, food items as well the rich cultural heritage of the State. Senior Dubai resident AswiniBorkotoky, welcomed the gathering on behalf of the organizers, Assam Society, UAE. The guests were felicitated with the traditional gamosa and souvenirs.

One of the star attractions of the grand evening was noted Assamese Singer, dancer and musician, Mrs. MonishaBordoloi, who enthralled the audience with new songs as well as popular songs from yesteryears including lilting Bihu songs.

Another star attraction of the program was the guest artiste JayantaNath from Jorhat. JayantaNath, a singer, composer and music director, entertained the audience in his inimitable style with a variety of Assamese and folk songs, with the audience literally dancing to his tunes. This is the second time, after his performance in Dubai in 2006, that Sri Nath appeared in the Bihu Celebrations of the Society. Sri Nath also inaugurated his new music album entitled ‘Manabata’ in the same program.The duo of JayantaNath and MonishaBordoloi also put up an impressive joint performance which took the show well past midnight to the joy of those present. They were supported by ParthaGoswami, SumonBordoloi and ArindamBaruah in background scores.

Instrumental Numbers by Prayashi Bora, Guwahati The cultural function got off to an early start with ‘Okonir Mel’ where the tiny‐tots had the opportunity to display their talents in different areas. All the young participants received gifts in order to encourage participation in future events and also carry on the tradition of Assamese Culture. Children were also given away prizes for participating in the Drawing Competition organized in Dubai and Abu Dhabi on the eve of the Bihu celebrations. Mr. AmiruddinAjmal, head of Dubai and Assam based Ajmal Perfumes Group, distributed the prizes.One of the highlights of the program was the very lively Hussori performance. The hussori troupe was led by ParthaPratimGoswami and supported by SumonBordoloi, DayanandaGogoi, BibhutiBrata Sharma, Sandeep Bhagowati, DipakTumung, IswarPrasanna Das, TandeepBhagowati, Shyamoli Pathak Bora, Dimple Bhagowati, SumanaBhuyan and SumanKhaundBaruah.

A chorus, ‘SrimoyiAxomorXitolbukut’, was performed by SumonKhoundBarua, SangitaBhagowati, SumanaBhuyan, Dimple Bhagowati, Mommy Dowerah, DayanandaGogoi, SumonBordoloi, DipakTumung, Arman Hazorika, Sandeep Bhagowati with the accompaniment of background music by ParthaGoswami, ArindamBaruah and Shyamoli Pathak Bora.The program was ably compeered by Abidul Islam (Abu Dhabi) and Syed Faruk Ahmed (Dubai) – both first timers for such an event in UAE. The memorable moments of the Bihu celebrations were captured in her lens by IpsitaBarua with a professional touch.The 5th edition of ProbaxiBihuwan, the souvenir of Assam Society (UAE), Dubai was unveiled by Mr. Sanjay Verma, the honourable Consul General of India, the same evening.

The eventful evening also witnessed the formal launch of the new look website of the Society at www.assamuae.org . Also launched was the new logo of Assam Society, UAE – designed by Mrs. SumanaBhuyan.The dinner organized at the hotel premises had Assamese flavor too – with helpings of Rou Fish Fry and Kawoi Fish curry.This is the 12th year that the Assam Society, Dubai, has organized this event, having started off way back in 1999 with a two day outdoor programme at the Bin Majid Beach Resort in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

This year saw a surge in Sponsors for the program with some sponsors even from far away Assam. The sponsors were Petrochem, Ajmal Perfumes, Al Khaleej Sugar, AbharanJewellery, Al Dowobi, Avon Division of Al Hathboor Group, Bank of Baroda, Barbeque Delight, Carlease, Citibank, Colgate Total, Holcim Trading FZCO, Home Centre, IORA (Kaziranga), Life Insurance Corporation, MotiMahal Restaurant, Paras Pharma FZE, Premier Enterprises (Guwahati0, Samsung Gulf, Stargate, Al Murshidi Perfumes, Tumung Property Consultants (Guwahati), Jaffrey Zaman, UAE Exchange and Zee TV Network.

For the first time for a Bihu Celebrations, several competitions were organized this year – including ‘Sriman‐Srimoyee’ Contest – best attired male and female from among the audience, Food Mela – a competition to recognize best ethnic food/ snack preparations, Okonir Mel – to spot and encourage young talents from among the community. Food Mela saw a huge response from several expert cooks who prepared authentic and delicious Bihuspecialities…the young generation participated actively in Okonir Mel and the Painting Competition…a handful of secret judges selected Sriman and Srimoyee 2010. 1st and 2nd prize winners in male category were TonmoyBarooah and Rajesh Goswami respectively, whereas in the female category Yasmin Hazarika was the winner and DeepikaKataky was the runners’up.Also on display on the venue were traditional dresses brought all the way from Assam – courtesy Fabric Plus, Guwahati and handcrafted dresses by MrsPhunu Dutta of Abu Dhabi.The event was organized successfully with a host of active members from Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi ably led by AnupalPhookan.