1. Description of Our Community
At the crack of dawn, everyday- a group of women goes to Valod branch of Shree Mahila Gruha Udyog Lijjat Papad ( SMGULP) to knead more than 6 tons of papad dough with the help of machines. The dough is then allotted in batches of 5-10 kg (per person) to 1200 other women who roll it into papads and deposit the same, the next day. Those involved in the rolling of the papads need to have a clean house and space to dry them. Those who do not have this facility take up any other responsibilities, like kneading dough or packaging or testing for quality in the Unit. The Unit we have chosen is: Valod, 40 km from our location and best known for its women's factory popular for its Papad production Mahila Gruh Udyog Lijjat Papad- started in the 1960s by Kiku Shah. Each member gets her share of rolling charge every day for the work she does. Any woman who pledges to adopt the institution's values and who has respect for quality can become a member. Members are paid Rs 43/- for every kilogram of wet dough rolled into circular and dried discs and her wages are paid on a fortnightly basis, directly into her bank account. Packed papads are then sealed into a box (each box holds 13.6 kg) and distributed to the sales distributors. Around 6000 kilograms of ready-to-retail papads make their way to the other parts of the country and overseas. Valod is a town midway between the metropolitan Surat( 50 km) and Songadh (40 km) in Gujarat and is located 5 km off the Surat-Nagpur Interstate. The famous Valmiki River passes through Valod and gets its name from Valmiki the great writer of Ramayana and other religious books. Most inhabitants are from other backgrounds mostly Brahmins, Jain and conservative Muslims who co-exist in perfect communal harmony. Valod enjoys a Tropical Savanna climate, moderated by winds from the Arabian Sea. The summer begins in early March and lasts till June. April and May are the hottest months with average maximum temperature touching 40 °C.
2. Summary of Our Project
Statistically speaking- the papad is Pan-Indian in its appeal. Lijjat is India’s favourite brand as far and is unsurpassed in terms of quality and taste since the past 60 years. Lijjat is also seen as the role model for rural women empowerment. Established with a meager investment of Rs 80/- in 1959 Lijjat had a turnover of Rs 10 billion by 2012 and employed more than 50000 people ( 95% women) in 88 units across 18 states of the country. The first branch outside Maharashtra was established at Valod, Gujarat in 1968. With an aim to provide participating students with hands-on, inter-disciplinary learning opportunities, we have also endeavored to tell the world this story of how humble beginnings if made with conviction and honest intent -can literally take the world by storm. The Valod Unit is a perfect example with near-perfect management and minimal use of machines even in digital times like now. The fact that this Unit packs around 60 tons of ready-to-retail papads per day is a feat in itself. Keeping with this year’s CYBERFAIR theme “Preserve and Unite” the only topic that struck a chord was Lijjat’s Papad industry. Incidentally- Lijjat shall complete its 59th year of existence on 15 March 2018.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:2-3
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
Compared to the previous year’s project, this year’s research was much more challenging yet very satisfying in terms f interdisciplinary learning outcomes.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
The workforce who take the dough home on a daily basis mostly hail from conservative and semi-literate families who are ill at ease interacting with total strangers ( like our team). Almost all of the families we filmed were granted permission only after assurance of privacy and because the students promised not to misuses the data by sharing on Social Media. It took us a while to get them to speak beyond the Papad making process but by and large the data collected should suffice.
The place is 40 km from where we ( Singhania Public School and Town) are located. Commuting in hot summer months proved taxing to an extent. Further- Lijjat Industries itself has a “ Photography Prohibited” policy in the dough-making and spice rooms. We could get a glimpse of what went into the dough but without the privilege of clicking even a single picture. However- the Unit Manager, Mrs Lakshmi Ji was very gracious to allow us interviews, pictures of the packaging areas and even a group photo in her office with citations from the Govt. of India and KVIC as a backdrop.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Lijjat has produced a number of memorable product promotion campaigns via local language newspaper advertising, TV and radio campaigns. Almost every Indian would know the tune. Two characters have appeared on the cooperative’s product jackets: the image (in black and white) of a young child called “Babla” – a boy who is always shown eating papad; and an image (in pink) of a bunny rabbit, also seen with papad in hand. Both Babla and the pink rabbit have become iconic images of the Lijjat brand – the rabbit featured in a well-known TV campaign for the organization that was first aired in the 1980s. We decided to revisit this jingle and with due permission , use it as our project Sound-Byte.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
The project was a gold-mine of research as it is. Up-close interaction with a labor oriented industry and absolute synchrony of each level of its operation gave our students many valuable lessons. For those who approached the project from a commercial point of view- the case study proved to be unique in more ways than one. Right from the industry offering both direct and indirect employment (where women could use the help of others in the family to help them in rolling papads and share the earnings) to how the entire organization is self sufficient in its production of raw material (atta, plastic packaging, gunny bags, cardboard cartons, etc) the reason of Lijjat’s success story came revealed before us. The lion’s share of the project taught lessons on Organizational Skills and Entrepreneurship.