Since time immemorial the magic of Varanasi or Benaras has captivated the hearts and souls of many. The lure of Varanasi however extends beyond its enchanting shrines and ghats. The hand-woven silk sarees of Varanasi are a prized creation, and is as popular as the city itself. Many Indian weddings are often incomplete without the bride dolled up in one. But the weavers’ community, most of who have been in the trade for generations today faces a worrisome predicament. Issues like environmental degradation damaging silkworm farms, leads to importing raw material, thereby increasing the cost of production. Only the elite can now comfortably afford an original Varanasi silk saree. Coupled with factors like modern tastes in dressing, and cheaper Chinese imitations flooding the market, the demand for traditional hand woven sarees has gone down drastically. Many hapless weavers have shut their looms looking for a new vocation, while the rest struggle for simple sustenance.
A "pilot" initiative of Department of Posts and Snapdeal.com has been launched in Varanasi. It envisages a joint collaboration of the strengths of both the organizations by providing a platform for small businesses/weavers to enable them to sell their products online and embrace the opportunity beyond their geographical reach. Under this pilot scheme, the weavers/domestic manufacturers of Varanasi silk products will be able to showcase their products through the Snapdeal.com portal with the help of Department of Posts and they would be helped in the end to end transaction of their products i.e. from registration to receipt of the money from the customer. The reach of the post office combined with the ecommerce platform provided by Snapdeal.com will ensure that the small businesses/weavers would benefit by reaching more customers in an instant and in a direct way. In this process, customers get a better deal from the portal and would also benefit by getting genuine craft from the authentic artisans directly. This initiative envisages developing scalability and sustainability for inclusion and mainstreaming artisans and small businesses to the e commerce market through the post offices.