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A note on the issue: turning over a new leaf

Our cover story this week examines how entrepreneurs in India are experimenting and finding a market for a range of products derived from hemp

Every part of the hemp plant can be used and industrious entrepreneurs are pulling it apart to create all sorts of products. (iStock)

For years, hemp made one think of dun-coloured sacks or strong ropes, but the cousin in the Cannabis sativa family of plants is being transformed. Every part of the plant can be used and industrious entrepreneurs are pulling it apart to create all sorts of products—from food, medicinal oils and balms, fibre and paper to fuel, building materials and animal food. It grows abundantly and quickly, thriving in a variety of climates, yet its cultivation is strictly monitored for reasons tied to the law as well as our own attitudes.

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It’s as much the entrepreneur’s job to create awareness about hemp as it is to answer that ubiquitous question about whether the weed is intoxicating (it’s not). Our cover story this week examines how this hasn’t stopped entrepreneurs from experimenting and finding a market for products derived from hemp as an increasing number of Indians look for superfoods, more sustainable brands, non-allopathic cures, and plant-based and natural products.

Indians have always lived with, and been drawn to, nature, memorialising the bond in literature, poetry, music, textiles and art. And when the British came to India, they commissioned artists to draw the mind-boggling variety of plants they saw around them, training them in the Western style of illustration. A beautiful new book, Indian Botanical Art: An Illustrated Historywhich we have reviewed—uses this art to provide an overview of the imperial obsession with the subcontinent’s botanical treasures, while also (finally) naming the Indian “Company artists” who were commissioned to make these luminous and accurate drawings.

We also have a piece on A. Ramachandran’s new show, which displays more than 80 of his drawings that pare everything down to pulsating lines. There’s a review of the series Ted Lasso, as original and homey a hero as they come, a nod to Handloom Day with a collection of objects to desire crafted from home-grown fabric, and more recommendations on what to read, watch and enjoy this weekend.

Write to the Lounge editor shalini.umachandran@htlive.com @shalinimb

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