1991: Basharat would leave his home in the morning and come home late, because football was his life and that's what he wanted to become - a football player. He didn't care about his household expenses, he didn't care about money and he didn't have many responsibilities. He lived the care free life of a gypsy and was called "Hero" by his friends owing to his good looks and a cheery nature. 2020: Basharat spends 10 hours a day in a crouched position at a spinning loom and doesn't even care about the related occupational hazards. He experiences neck pain, problems with his eyesight and mild to severe backache every single day. He tries to earn as much as he can, but he cannot. Basharat is a Pashmina artisan and his tales of misfortune and miseries are infinite. And its not only Basharat. It is thousand of Pashmina artisan, who lost the skill of their hands, and the respect they had in the society, as soon as machines emerged. It has been 20 years since Basharat has been living a life that he never wanted to. He was cheerful with a smile on his face all the time. But now, there is a frown on his forehead which never leaves. He never wanted to work with Pashmina. He never wanted a job where you had to sit all day and strain yourself. But fate had him do the exact opposite of what he loved to do. Basharat was athletic, sporty and an active person, who wouldn't sit down for more than half an hour. But now, Basharat doesn't see the world outside the small 10*10 room where he works, sometimes for days together. And even after working in these conditions, he is paid Rs 30 a day. Then why does he continue to do this work, we asked Basharat himself. "What else would I do. I didn't get an opportunity to play football, and I did not know any other skill. Perhaps that is the reason I and many of my friend artisans were exploited. Because we had no other option. We are forced to do this, because we cannot do anything else", says a grief stricken Basharat. Basharat does not know labor work and says that it will take time to learn. And in case he doesn't learn it, he will have to come back. And when he comes back with rough hands of a labor, it wont be possible to work on a shawl, as this work demands hands to be smoother. Basharat and thousands of artisans are stuck in this work, which takes everything from them, like their time, energy, health, but doesn't give anything in return.
Basharat and Pashmina.com
As much as Basharat appreciates our working model which is based on ethical and fair trade, he still doesn't want his family members especially his sisters to be associated with Pashmina. We can say that Basharat is fed up of the apathy and indifference of the government and people. All he needs is your support to promote handmade and hand embroidered shawls which these artisans pour their soul into.