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Lockdown hero, muffler woman: Chandigarh fashion designer gave labourers job, pay, food | Chandigarh News

Fashion designer Neetu Arora supervising the making of mufflers in her Chandigarh factory.

CHANDIGARH: During lockdown, when uncertainty and loss of job forced droves of labourers on a long march home, local entrepreneur Neetu Arora not only kept her workers but also fed their families.
For stopping their exodus, she would pick and drop labourers, and give them work, salary, and food. She gave them the job of making mufflers after being inspired by the screen appearance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his appeal for local-made masks.
In the middle of curfew and job insecurity, this entrepreneur created work for migrants and even replaced disposable masks to save the environment. After the PM came on live TV, the Haryana forest department combined the strength of women’s clusters to make his kind of mufflers, a Herculean task amid shortage of raw material and guidance. The task looked difficult only as long as Neetu Arora had not taken the charge.
Her fashion design house is known for handmade bridal outfits of zardozi (embroidery) work. She was keen to keep her labourers in Chandigarh, while a whole lot of other migrants were going home.
Everyday, with government’s permission, she would bring a labourer to her workplace and put him on job. She has a team of more than 30 labourers, who get their full salary. The team was able to create 200-plus mufflers in just a few days to hand over to respective government departments for a minimal cost.
Neetu told TOI, “It was important to stay positive in the times of crisis. When I saw labourers moving back to their home states, I felt concerned for their families. It also struck me as an opportunity to me and I took it up as challenge.”
The labourers in her factory says they can’t thank her enough for work, salary, and food in the holy fasting month of Ramzan. Labourer Nadeem said, “The job came as Godly help in times of crisis. Hungry and broke, I was planning to join the long march home before this offer of work came up. She also used to drive us to factory and home after securing curfew pass. She delivered food to our families during Ramzan, with sanitised hands and mask on.”
Principal chief conservator of forests Amarinder Kaur said, “The Covid-19 lockdown shut everything. Masks were available only with chemist’s and those were only disposable type. To find an environment-friendly alternative, we contacted women entrepreneurs from our self help groups. The procurement of cloth was difficult but they accepted this challenge of making affordable masks for villagers and forest department labourers.”
Neetu Arora also designed those cloth mufflers to make those easy to carry and be liked. She produced the mufflers with all safety during this crucial time and earned for her workers a life of dignity.

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