Dalit villagers in Orissa adapt their traditional skills to Finnish designs. T ENG 30 BLUE WINGS he lumbering, brightly painted Tata trucks that are a feature of any Indian highway are often adorned with two slogans: Please Blow Horn and Obey Traffic Rules. The first slogan is consistently obeyed, the second completely ignored. As our vehicle negotiates the shabby suburbs of Kolkata, it is a miracle that the potholes are not littered with dead cattle and shattered rickshaws. A plastic effigy of the elephant god Ganesh on the dashboard is our guardian as we head out of the city. Taina Snellman, founder and director of Finnish company Tikau and its NGO in India, Tikau Share, looks out APRIL 2012 at the polythene lean-tos and flapping plastic wastelands of the city's slums. Snellman and two Finnish colleagues are on their way to a Dalit village in the north-east state of Orissa. Two ladies from the village and a pile of suitcases containing discarded Finnair in-flight blankets and toys for the villagers, as well as other donated clothes and shoes, are also shoe-horned into the car. "The main challenge is to give these people dignity," says Snellman, pointing towards the bent figures that pick their way through the muddy slums. Plastic, gathered into vast bundles for recycling, is the main commodity here as well as a flimsy physical building material. "We want Dalits (the so-called Untouchables at the lowest level of the Indian caste hierarchy) in the villages to find alternatives to this." Dalit means "broken" or "crushed", a more accurate description than the name adopted by Gandhi for this
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