Reliance Retail’s first standalone Swadesh store opens in Hyderabad

Hyderabad: Reliance Foundation Founder and Chairperson Nita Ambani inaugurated the first ‘Swadesh’ store by Reliance Retail at Hyderabad in Telangana on Wednesday.

Reliance Retail’s Swadesh stores will present India to the world “through its centuries-old art forms and creative expressions” and will also pry open sustainable livelihood opportunities for artisans and craftspersons to ensure that their work continues to be treasured in a world that is evolving rapidly, a release said.

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“This is in line with the objective of Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), to play a pivotal role in addressing India’s developmental challenges through innovative yet sustainable solutions,” it said.

Swadesh aims to revolutionise the way India’s age-old arts and crafts are perceived globally, born out of Reliance Foundation’s “long-standing commitment to promote traditional artists and artisans” and Nita Ambani’s vision of “creating a platform to showcase their talent and skill to a wider audience”.

Speaking at the launch of the first standalone Swadesh store in Hyderabad, Nita Ambani said Swadesh is an ode to India’s traditional arts and artisans.

“It’s our humble initiative to preserve and promote our country’s age-old arts and crafts. Swadesh highlights the spirit of ‘Make in India’ and offers respect and sustenance to our skilled craftsmen and craftswomen. They are truly the pride of our country, and through Swadesh we hope to give them the global recognition that they richly deserve. That is why we are excited to expand Swadesh not just across India, but internationally too in the US and Europe.”

As a testimony to Reliance Foundation’s efforts, Indian artisans recently received “overwhelming appreciation” from both domestic and international guests at the Swadesh experience zone created at the recently launched arts and culture space, Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC) in Mumbai.
Visitors could not only watch and interact with master artisans at work in a special recreation of their traditional workspaces but purchase their work too.

Originally scheduled as a three-day event, the NMACC Swadesh exhibition in May had to be extended due to unprecedented public demand, visible in the extensive number of footfalls and daily orders placed with the artisans, the entire proceeds of which went to the artisans, the release said.

In addition, as a part of the Swadesh initiative, 18 Reliance Foundation Artisan Initiative for Skill Enhancement (RAISE) centres are in the process of being set up across India “to ensure reach at grassroots level and contribute in sustaining regional artisan communities and art forms”. This is expected to enable sourcing of over 600 craft forms.

“Swadesh store, a Reliance Retail initiative, is a natural progression in Reliance Foundation’s journey to harness the fragile beauty of India’s rich cultural heritage and preserve its endangered art forms,” the release said.

The first Swadesh store in Jubilee Hills, Telangana, spread across 20,000 sq ft will house an eclectic collection of carefully curated products made entirely by hand by India’s skilled and talented artisans using long-forgotten techniques and local materials.

“While visitors will be able to browse through an exhaustive portfolio of products ranging from food products and clothing to textiles and handicrafts in the different zones within the store and savour India’s traditional creative expressions in an engaging, vibrant and aspirational ambience, they will be able to discover the story behind every product and its maker through a ‘Scan and Know’ technology feature,” the release said.

Apart from a special customization service that helps customers collaborate with the Swadesh team to create unique products, the store boasts a cafe for food connoisseurs based on the farm-to-table concept.

The release said that Reliance Foundation is working for the overall well-being and enhanced quality of life for all, focusing on rural transformation, education, health, sports for development, disaster management, women empowerment, urban renewal and arts, culture and heritage, and has touched the lives of over 71 million people across India, in over 54,800 villages and urban locations.