(April, 2007 Update)
Every year at Budget time the handloom industry waits to see if its importance in providing productive, low-investment employment in rural areas will be rewarded by the government of the day. Every year it is deeply disappointed that its potential is not recognized through policy measures and budgetary allocations. In 2005 there was a flurry of activity in the PMO and the Planning Commission, a Steering Committee was formed in the Planning Commission and was asked to give recommendations for policy on handlooms for the 11th Plan period. I was part of that Committee and this is a summary of the recommendations we drafted:
- The policy for the handloom sector should recognize that the sector has tremendous potential for generating productiverural employment, and therefore as a critical sector for expanding rural employment it is entitled to substantial State support. A critical drawback in policy formulation has been that information regarding the industry is out-of-date or non existent; proper data needs to be collected and disseminated, on the basis of which a vision document for the industry should be prepared. The processes of information collection and policy formulation to be inclusive, with consultations at the level of primary producers, co-operative management, assistant directors of State Handloom departments, and higher level State officials.
- Upto now interventions have taken a fragmented view of the industry, addressing issues piecemeal. Instead, theproduction-market process should be seen as a whole, and existing institutions such as Weavers’ Service Centres should be strengthened to play critical roles in developing production-market linkages. Management training specific to the industry to be provided through dedicated instit...