The agarbathi industry in India holds a dominant position in the global market on account of a growing demand for incense sticks in more than 150 nations.
The centuries-old local agarbathi industry provides employment to millions of workers from the unorganised sector. From the acquisition of raw materials to the production, packaging, sales and distribution across geographies, this industry is highly labour-intensive. The end-to-end process generates a significant number of jobs for the underprivileged who, in turn, are able to support their families and their children’s education. The daily wages of these employees may be adequate to meet their day-to-day household expenses and provide basic education to their children. It may not be sufficient to fund their graduation/higher education. Towards this, the All India Agarbathi Manufacturers Association (AIAMA) introduced the Vidyabhisheka initiative in 2002,
under the Mysore Oodabathi Manufacturers’ Charitable Trust. It aims to enable the children of Trust member unit workers to complete their basic education and also study further. The Trust launched a ‘Scholarship Aid Scheme’ in 2009-10 for outstanding students who scored more than 75% in their SSLC, II PUC, and other professional courses. Additionally, half-scholarships were introduced for students who scored 60%-74% in their exams. This service is completely free and open to all children of the Trust member unit workers. The Trust currently assists over 650 students each year and has, so far, disbursed more than 25 lakh rupees towards the welfare of these children.
Several youth have benefited from this scholarship programme by pursuing professional education in medicine, engineering and other fields as well as graduate and post-graduate programmes. AIAMA firmly believes that such programmes are necessary in order to give these students a fair opportunity to realize their academic potential and dreams. Not only will it assure them of a secure future, but also inspire other children and eventually empower the lives of future generations.