National Handloom Day
- The 6th National Handloom Day was celebrated on 7th August, 2020, to honour the handloom community, and acknowledge their contribution towards India’s socio-economic development.
- It aims to resolve to protect this heritage and to empower the workers in this sector.
- The first National Handloom Day was organised in 2015 by the government in Chennai.
- The handloom sector is one of the major symbols of the cultural heritage of India.
- National Handloom Day seeks to highlight the contribution of handloom to the socioeconomic development of the country and increase income of the weavers.
- It continues to be an important source of livelihood, especially for women, who form around 70% of the weavers or allied workers in the sector.
Reason to Choose 7th August
- The Union government had declared 7thAugust as the National Handloom Day in July 2015 with the objective to generate awareness about the importance of handloom industry.
- August 7 was chosen as the National Handloom Day to commemorate the Swadeshi Movement which was launched on this day in 1905 in the Calcutta Town Hall to protest against partition of Bengal by the British Government.
- The movement had aimed at reviving domestic products and production processes.
Issues with Handloom Sector
Stigma of being Unorganized Sector
- Primarily a household industry, the weavers are unorganized and the production pattern is mostly dispersed and decentralized and there are no marketing strategies in place, unlike in a cooperative sector.
Non Availability of Raw Material
- The Fourth All India Handloom Census (2019-2020) cites raw material support needed by nearly 59.5 percent of weaver household. From cotton, silk, and woollen yarn to dyes, costs have increased and so has the shortage.
- In 2015, concerns had been raised regarding shortage of cotton for weavers in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra. The weavers had to travel long distances to get cotton added to their transportation costs. Besides, smaller weavers have been unable to buy in bulk leading to lower output of material.
Decreasing Credit Support
- The Textile Association of India records that the budget allocation for the textile sector came down to Rs 4,831 crore in (2019-2020) from Rs 6,943 in the previous fiscal.
- This also means that various schemes be it housing, subsidies, health insurance will affect the weaver too.
- Quite often smaller weavers are at the mercy of money lenders, and suicides have made headlines in recent years.
Migration to Other Fields
- With many traditional families moving to cities for jobs as labourers, weavers have been leaving the loom.
- While the recent Handloom Census (2019-2020) records that there are nearly 31.44 lakh handloom households, and it has seen a rise from 27.83 lakh in the last census, the numbers are still dismal.
- Since handloom manufacturing is carried on in the houses of weavers spread over a vast geographical area, it lacks the necessary infrastructure which is available in industrial estates. There are no separate sheds, water and power supply, technology support effluent treatment plants and waste management arrangements. The poor infrastructure affects the productivity, quality and cost.
- The handloom industry has been using age old technology and looms. These results into low productivity and high cost.
Lack of Awareness
- The unawareness of weavers about market trends is also a reason of low demand of their articles, lack of market information to weavers by the government and illiteracy of the weavers are the responsible factor for this problem.
- While there are nearly 13 government schemes currently for weavers, there’s basically three per cent that is aware of the Weavers Health Insurance Scheme and only 10.5 per cent know of the credit waivers for loans that they can avail (Handloom Census 2019-2020).
Competition from Power Loom
- Competition from Power loom is the major problem in marketing of handloom products.
- This competition over the years has increased after the mushrooming of Power loom, and the power loom sector took several benefits in the name of handloom industry in relation to consumption of yarn, production of reserved items.
Welfare Schemes for Handloom Sector
Handloom Weavers Comprehensive Welfare Scheme
National Handloom Development Programme (NHDP)
Components of NHDP
Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme
Yarn Supply Scheme
- With a view to promote this industry on a sustainable basis, it is deemed necessary to produce quality fabrics with new design for winning the trust and confidence of the customers.
- In order to increase the number of active members in the society the Government can increase the wages of the weavers so that they will be motivated to work continuously.
- The Government can organize training programmes to weavers with respect to weaving clothes of improved designs, so that through training they will be able to earn more wages and their economic conditions will improve.
- Weavers must get the credit on soft terms as they are supposed to with the new initiatives like opening up of bank accounts, direct delivery of subsidies and digital governance.
- In order to avoid the competition from mechanized sector the Government should insist the compulsory usage of handloom mark for all the products produced by Handloom Weavers Co-operative Societies.
- There is a need to revamp the working of NHDC which is presently limited in nature as it is the only agency to support supply of yarn at subsidised prices.
- There is a need to put an end to the process of advance payment and procuring material by the Primary Weaver Cooperative Societies (PWCS) and instead, the market may be opened up for the weavers for purchase of yarn.
- The need for awareness, accessibility to markets and design R&D, easy access to raw material and better credit support can make a difference to weavers in different corners of the country. And then we can truly celebrate a National Handloom Day.