Maili, a small nondescript village around 40-minute drive from the Hoshiarpur district headquarters, will soon be on every parliamentarian’s lips — quite literally.

An organic rose ‘sharbat’ prepared by Sandhya, a self-help group being run in the village, will be served at the Parliament House in New Delhi during an exhibition being organised by the Union ministry of science and technology later this month. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also be in attendance.

Maili’s rose ‘sharbat’ is the only product from Punjab that has been chosen for the exhibition.

“Last month, suddenly we came to know that Union minister of science and technology (Dr Harsh Vardhan) has appreciated our product, and we got an order to supply 540 bottles of the rose ‘sharbat’ to the department,” says Vinod Kumari, 35, president of the group.

“We had only a week to send the consignment. We almost forgot to eat or sleep and everyone got involved in preparing the ‘sharbat’ throughout the day and night. Amid all this excitement and nervousness, we finally prepared and bottled the sharbat by March 23. It was an exhilarating experience,” she says.

Bottles that have been sent for the exhibition carry the text: ‘From the virgin lands of Kandi area of Punjab, a homemade product’. The ‘sharbat’ is not yet available for retail, as the group is awaiting the parliamentarians’ response.


Vinod Kumari founded the self-help group back in 2005. Preparing organic pickles, haldi, ‘sharbats’ and other products, the group won several accolades. It engages 14 village women at present.

“Initially, we got trained at Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Hoshiarpur. Eventually, we got in touch with the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, and received regular training on making organic products,” she says.

The group started producing the rose ‘sharbat’ in 2014 under the guidance of Dr RK Dubey, assistant professor of landscaping at the PAU and principal investigator of the project ‘Flower cultivation and its value addition for the empowerment of women of Kandi area’ .

“Dubey Sir trained and guided us on how to make a drink out of rose petals. A team from the department of science and technology (DST) visited us last year and checked our unit and the product,” says Vinod Kumari.

Vegetable expert Dr TS Dhillon and Dr Jaswinder Kaur of the department of food and nutrition, PAU, assisted Dr Dubey in the project.

“I provided technical training to the group. Vinod Kumari was very quick in learning the stuff and worked really hard to make the project come true. They will now be recognised on the national level,” says Dr Dubey, adding the project that began in 2014 has been funded by the DST. He said the self-help group will also get a cash reward and be honoured by the Union ministry soon. A shelf in Vinod Kumari’s house is filled with certificates, awards and photographs of receiving these honours at the district and state level.

But she aspires for more. “Meri shelf to tabhi complete hogi, jab PM ka letter mujhe milega (My shelf will be complete only when I get the PM’s appreciation letter),” she says.

Source: April 6, 2017, Hindustan Times