Shrenis is building occupational networks on WhatsApp where we connect members of a various occupational group with one another.
Our project is a response to the harsh realities of the informal sector. Communities in the informal sector lack access to information regarding livelihood opportunities, internal support, and empowerment structures that act as professional safety nets and capacity builders. Conversely, many government initiatives face difficulties in effective implementation, while policymakers suffer from a lack of quality data regarding the socio-economic functioning of the informal sector.
Historically, Indian producer communities have been part of a social economy that was closely tied to both markets and supply chains. We derive our philosophy from the ancient Indian socio-economic groups that were predominant in the Buddhist era, known as ‘shrenis’, or 'occupational guilds'. Our initiative is attempting to help revive these 'occupational guilds’ by rekindling the same essence of autonomy, economic structure, and community sentiment that existed in ancient India. Occupational and service communities still exist in small and large pockets across the country. Not only are they a large section of our labour force, most of these occupations are interwoven with traditional artistry, production systems, and technique that are an invaluable part of India’s rich and diverse historical and cultural capital. Bridging the gap between them and the formal, structured economy is imperative to sustaining these systems.
Therefore, we adopt a ground-up, societal approach with our physical interventions, to break the benefactor/beneficiary binary that is so prevalent in the present developmental discourse. The idea is to build the same system of information and opportunity access that exists in the formal sector while inculcating a sense of community amongst people. The end goal is to instill some modicum of structure that would eventually help establish a degree of standards and accountability, along with socio-economic benefits for the communities involved.
Integrating Indigenous Industries
To create physical and digital networks in various occupational communities in the
informal sector, to increase access to information and livelihood opportunities.
OUR COMMUNITY LEADERS
Leaders from various occupational communities who voluntarily help spread the Shrenis initiative. We have over 45 mobilisers, here are a few of them.