When the era is of globalization and we have plentiful of imports from international markets of US and China, we need to observe that how far can our national products maintain their identity and create a more vivid presence. This has now become one of the critical issues to draw our attention. Here we have an undoubted advantage that is accepted even by those who want to shove our handloom industry to constraint it to the niche market. Orissa-Sambalpuri, Bengal-jamdani, Gujarat-leheria, Maharashtra-Paithan, Andhra-ikkat, the silks of Kanchipuram, and the list are endless. New varieties appear from time to time, like Manglagiri bordered fabric that swept the country long back is still going strong. Uniqueness of these handloom fabrics must be treasured, sheltered and armoured. The handloom industry is dispersed throughout the villages and cities, circumventing the effluence of concerted production as are there in powerlooms.
Many of the producer regions are closely linked to their local markets, others such as Chirala in Andhra supply distant but specific markets through composite trade and credit associations. If this blend of factors is considered to be an incredible asset that it is, and if policies can be framed to encourage and support the potency of the handloom industry, we can have a perfect opportunity to develop an unequaled textile industry. India has over 38, 00,000 weaving industries and more than 15, 00,000 domestic weaving industries have been set up in the states of North and Eastern parts of India. On the other hand, the southern states also have their huge share of weaving industries, for example, the southern state of Andhra Pradesh houses some 3, 20,000 weaving industries. Most of the clusters are situated in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, and West Bengal. Along with these centers, the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh also have numerous centers for weaving. All these sectors are engaged in the production of unique varieties of weaving products. Both the weaving sectors of northern and southern India are engaged in the weaving production for the domestic market only.
Though every State is home to a range of unique fabrics in hundreds of designs, colors and textures, kept alive by over 13 million weaver families, Indian fabrics constitute less than 2 per cent of the world textile trade. Even this is competitive because of the low wages paid to the weavers, who have demonstrated enormous resilience and sustained the industry by squeezing them. The government has introduced an Integrated Handloom Clusters Development Scheme (IHCDS) in 20 selected handloom clusters of the country out of the 470 clusters in order to sustain and escalate the sector. Under this scheme, each of these 20 clusters is to be developed within four years at the cost of around Rs. 20 million. Each cluster comprises around 5,000 handlooms. Finest and exclusive handloom products developed by these 20 clusters under the IHCD scheme had been displayed in a handloom cluster gallery of an expo organized in 2009. Handloom and handicraft sector needs additional sops for development, pertaining to which the Textile Ministry will speak to the Commerce Ministry to prop up the sector.
Need for the Developmental Revolution
Government has been working hard for the ailed Handlooms sector since long. But in spite of its endless efforts and initiatives the sectors seems to decline anyway. There is the situation where artisans, village and cottage industries, micro enterprises are facing the following problems:
- Discrete and unstructured output
- Lower scale of production and economies
- Lower quality standards
- Sluggish credit support
- Lower preference to this particular sector
- Marketing hitch-ups
- Obsolete technology
Advantages of Cluster Scheme
Impacts of the Scheme
- Sales comprehensiveness
- Design Development
This process involves customization of the designs and products as per the requirements of the customers. Emphasis has also been laid on developing designs for each season i.e., summer, spring, winter, autumn, etc.
- Encouragement of weavers in export activities
The weavers are encouraged to bring out export-oriented products to provide a boost to the handloom exports. This attempt has not only been helpful in providing continuous employment but also increased wages to the weavers and craftsmen.
- Product diversification
Switching over to the marketable varieties and better value-added products such as home furnishings, foot-mats, made-ups, kitchen materials, other utility items, etc is also a major step to grab the consumer market keeping in mind their tastes and preferences.
- Setting up of Apparel Parks
The idea of Apparel Park is to start production of apparels and provide handsome employment opportunities to the local weavers. The Apparel Park at Tiruppur has an annual export turnover of Rs. 1500 crore providing direct employment to about 7000 persons. Similarly, the Park at Chennai is supposed to provide employment to about 10,000 persons and the expected value of exports will be around Rs.2000 crore as and when completed.
Benefits to the Weavers
- The Co-operative Handloom Weavers' Savings and Security Scheme
- Central Thrift Fund Scheme contributing a part of per rupee earned to the savings of the weavers
- Family Pension Scheme
- Cooperative Handloom Weavers' Old Age Pension Scheme
- Weavers' House cum Workshed Scheme
- Mahatma Gandhi Bunkar Bima Yojana Scheme (Insurance Scheme For Handloom Weavers)The insurance amount payable to the handloom weavers enrolled under the Mahatma Gandhi Bunkar Bima Yojana Scheme is as detailed below:
- Health Insurance Scheme For Handloom Weavers with ICICI Lombard
- Awarding Scholarships to the weavers and students
We see a bright future for handloom sector in India past 2015, even if it's the most morose analysis. Though, the working conditions for handloom weavers are likely to beg off which can only be averted if proper interventions are initiated and implemented in this scheme. Government is likely to reduce its role further; competition is likely to increase from other sub-sectors of Indian textile industry, with government playing an adherent role. However, the bright future of handloom sector is ensured by the very trait of this competition i.e., striking at the weakest point at the best time. Environmental changes and emphasis on conservation of natural resources should be able to lend a helpful hand the handloom sector. However, one needs active government support here in all the states and clusters. Markets, both domestic and foreign, would continue to demand handloom products given the exclusivity and niche factors inherent in handloom production but handloom sector would be constrained by the raw material accessibility issues in at least few clusters, if not all. Anyhow, these clusters caters to the needs by providing knowledge of the local throng of the area, skills, workers and resources of production which help them to survive the competitive market and achieve higher economies of scale as compared to non-cluster organizations. These clusters, though multifarious, have the capability to magnetize the resources and efficient workers from distant locations as well.