Inequity in Inches

In the first few months of SURA’s existence, stitching bags that were perfect in dimensions was possibly our biggest challenge. When the mothers from our community stitched 10 bags, each one would be of a different dimension – an inch or two longer or shorter. We started with math lessons on how to measure a piece of cloth, practiced the skill- didn’t make a big difference. Then, we worked on some reflection circles, exploring the idea of “Excellence” in every product. While we made some progress on the precision front, it wasn’t close to perfection. Quality checks meant me carrying around my inch tape and measuring at all steps in the process- problem-solving for achieving precision in measurements.

Moving a ‘bag’ to the ‘restitching box’ created so much frustration among the ladies, which sometimes was expressed as a big joke and sometimes led to fights… After several months of all of these measuring and re-stitching, I accidentally discovered that their inch tapes were wrongly calibrated! No wonder none of them could achieve perfection in measurement. It turns out that they bought a local ten-rupee inch tape, as against a thirty rupee one from Cuddalore town; different from my forty rupees one from Chennai. Buying the inch tapes from ‘town’ solved for one of our biggest problems so beautifully|| There’s a price to pay in rural India, for accuracy and excellence… For us, this is a story of inequity; of believing it is “okay” for some parts of India to use poorer versions of all kinds of products, irrespective of consequences it has, on lives and livelihoods.

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