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Vikas Kendra, ITC join hands to help youth
Deccan Herald - 26 Jun 2003

The Vyakti Vikas Kendra, India (VKKI), founded by Sri Sri Ravishankar as part of Art of Living Worldwide, and ITC have joined hands to train rural youth and provide vocational opportunities in rolling out agarbathis.

The ‘Agarbathi Community Participation Programme’ as it is called, is in keeping with VKKI’s mission of conducting service projects involving youth in and around villages to make them economically and socially self-reliant, besides reviving human values, said VKKI Chairman Arun Madhavan.

At a press conference here today, he said as part of the agarbathi community participation programme, people will be trained to roll agarbathis by the VKKI, while the ITC will extend through an out-sourcing tie-up to pick up these agarbathis by its agarbathi manufacturing associates in Bangalore- Sankranthi Agarbathi Company and Ananth Agarbathi Company.

The associates will add the required fragrances and supply the final product to ITC.

The ITC will then market these agarbathis under its brands ‘Spriha’, ‘Nivedan’ and ‘Ashageet’.

Chief Executive of ITC’s Agarbathis Business VM Rajasekharan said, "Given ITC’s abiding social commitment, the company saw an inspiring opportunity here to support VKKI’s activities by creating stable employment opportunities in the manufacture of agarbathis, a craft unique to India and its spiritual heritage."

"The project will commence with the services of over 100 women who live close to the ashram and we hope to expand the project by involving more people from VKKI. We are also planning to launch a brand jointly in association with The Art of Living," he said. In this project, apart from training youth in rolling agarbathis, VKKI teachers will also teach meditation and yoga to help revitalise workers and build their self-esteem.