Death knell for handlooms?

Advocacy, Craft, Handloom, Art, Policy, Safeguarding, Endangered

Death knell for handlooms?

Radhakrishna, Sabita

Changing lifestyles and market structures mean that weaving is not a viable profession anymore. What's the way out?Hand-woven fabric is the product of Indian tradition, the inspiration of the cultural ethos of the weavers. With its strong product identity, handlooms represent the diversity of each State and proclaim the artistry of the weaver. It is not thread alone but the weaver's imagery, faith and dream that create heritage fabrics which have undoubtedly placed India on the world map. Handlooms rank second only to agriculture as an industry. The handloom sector boasts of 3.4 million weavers according to a census conducted by The National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) in the year 1995-96 whereas in 1987-88 it was 4.3 million and the drop of nearly a million is all too significant and in the present scenario rather bleak.The Kancheepuram sari with its korvai designs may become a museum piece sooner than we think, so also the cotton korvai saris, with the weavers disinterested in weaving them. A cotton sari fetches the weaver Rs. 270 per sari as against Rs. 2,500 for a silk sari. A master weaver in Kancheepuram quotes the example of an MNC which sends buses to pick up young adults who are the children of the weavers. Even if it is an unskilled laborer's job, he can pick up around Rs. 250-300 a day and what's more, there is "prestige" attached to a factory job...
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