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Mrs. Veena Upadhyay

Achiever's Success Story

Journey of Veena Upadhyay 1986 to present

Journeys to our destinations often do begin much before we’re actively involved or even aware of their inception. Little did Veena know that her erstwhile career path would lead her down the road of what is today a truly rewarding and enigmatic experience of learning, development, passion and, of course, fulfillment. After having made a stronghold in the corporate world of brand management, sales, marketing and advertising for premier networks, she was also invited as a  Guest Faculty in management courses in  prestigious academic institutions including Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad.

While her personal journey took her away from the four concrete and established walls of the corporate industry and planted her into the open expanses and rawness of Bihar, Veena continued to explore her interest and curiosity of this world anew. With a foundation in working with people at various levels and the insight into discovering, tapping and pooling potential, she began the steps of this newfound journey by exploring the depths of what rural Bihar had to offer. During the years of 2006 to 2008, she participated extensively in implementing water sanitation, healthcare and various other developmental government projects with UNICEF & UNDP.Having spent considerable time with people across the lower strata of society in rural Bihar, the awakening to assist in the socio-economic empowerment of the marginalized stirred in her.

Persuading  erstwhile manual-scavenger families to walk up the ladder  of functional literacy and skill development for sustained livelihoods with her, while arduous, was eventually successful . From highlighting the importance of being independent by way of strengthening functional skills to the necessity of opening bank accounts and being financially self-reliant, she worked with women across regions in semi –urban  Bihar to help create alternate means of earning their living through art, craft and design. Aided by  Dr. Pathak  of Sulabh International  for administrative processes, this spearheaded the women groups thus empowered to participate in exhibitions that propelled not just the power of education and expression, but threw light on the magical arts and crafts of Bihar.

As part of her quest to work with weavers of Bihar, she has worked to revive handlooms in Jamalhata, Siwan district and has assured 41 weaver families with sustained production of uniform fabrics for Delhi Public Schools in Patna, Pune, Coimbatore & Ludhaina. Veena has also  skilled the rural women of this district to stitch professional school uniforms for these schools which is a brilliant case study of how 52 women could inspire 50 more to join them in their march towards self empowerment. And  also how this up- skilling sparked 30  rural women to learn handloom weaving for their livelihood,  she has  thus ensured sustained market linkages for the skilled women and integrated these groups with Takshila Foundation and Sarraf Enterprises.

The never say die spirit to revive and promote endangered crafts and hand skills, Veena has worked to revive hand spinning on Kisan charkha which became a village movement for the elderly rural women and the cultural heritage weaves of Extra Weft “baavanbuti”. At present, she invests considerable effort traveling and working with weavers to help regenerate a skill that was replaced by other more sustainable occupations. Her curiosity and drive in this regeneration has taken her across the country to the heart of where India’s weavers lie. After her relentless conversations, assurances and trips to weaver villages, today she has empowered over 130 weaver families and over 230 women seamstresses, spinners and embroidery artisans content at sustaining their families with an art that runs deep within them..

Veena has also been an active member of Creative Dignity during the pandemic and her  voluntary work as the State Anchor of Bihar & Chattisgarh has helped protect craft clusters in both states.

Veena was shortlisted as the Top 130 Women Transforming India Awards 2019, Niti Aayog & the Women Entrepreneurship Platform. She has been recommended for the JSW contemporary craftsmanship prize for her contribution as a textile revivalist. Her work was on display at the National Museum, New Delhi in 2022 under ‘Sutr Santati’ curated by Lavina Baldota and hosted by the Baldota Foundation

The waves of passion never ebb and so we stand witness to what a single passionate mind is capable of. With her continued efforts, she has helped open doors to not just the marginalized population that knew no other form of earning but has also exposed the magnitude of talent and stories untold brimming in beautiful Bihar. 

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