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In 2016 Prime Minister Narendra Modi given the five F formula but it appears that he remembers no more.

Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi in one of his motivating and ambitious public address pertaining to cotton growers emphasised on ‘Make in India’ meaning thereby that India will progress if its domestic Industry will improve.

A snippet of his address is,‘Today the textile sector means livelihood to the farmer, for labour it means wage, for weavers it means art, and for a businessman, it means prosperous business. PM innovatively views this sector and reveals “five F formula”. F for Farm, Farm to Fibre to Fabric to Fashion to Foreign.’The attendees warmly applauded the address. He emphasised that wherever cotton is being grown, he will ensure making fabric which will ultimately turn into fashionable cloth for export. Hence, right from farmers to weavers and businessman of India will prosper.

Interestingly he is seeking the second term of Lok Sabha membership from Varanasi famous for handloom weavers who are falling gradually and the programmes meant for them appears failure on the part of  policymakers.

Mahatma Gandhi with his spinning wheel (Charkha)(Source: Wikimedia)

It is good that all the major national and regional parties are concerned about the farmers and they are committed even if verbally for waiving their loans and ensuring minimum support price for their hard cultivated products, but traditional handloom weavers appear utterly absent from the discussion of the political parties.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi distributed Charkhas during the National MSME Awards, at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), in Ludhiana.  (Source: Wikimedia)

Importance of traditional handloom weaving

Indian economy is mainly based on informal sector in which agriculture accounts for the highest employment providing sector followed by craft and particularly weaving. Weaving is a household occupation which is of utmost importance to women and additionally it is labour intensive.

Further, this sector is of particular importance to the marginalised and minority communities who are hugely engaged in handloom sector. However, for the last three Handloom Censussince 1985 to 2009-2010 there is a sheer downfall in the handloom weaving. Thereare number of studies confirming this downfall which reveal the effect of downfall on the weavers’ community. A sizeable number of weavers switched to casual labour and otherinformal sectors for survival.

Considering this grave situation Government of India has made several programmes for the protection and promotion of handloom weavers but studies, for instance, Chalam (2011)regarding Andhra Pradesh, Vasanti Raman (2010) regarding Varanasi show the ineffectiveness of policy and programmes to check the downsizing of handloom industry.

Furthermore, traditional crafts are of particular importance to the Muslim minority since they are poorly represented in the government sector and even in service sectors where technical education is required. While they are fairly represented in occupational craftsman groupswere identified as (i) Julaha (weaver), (ii) Dhunia (cotton carders), (iii) Darzi (tailor) and Qassab (butcher).

Urban migration, joblessness and agricultural distress is major challenge to our present economy, which is further aggravated by demonetisation and problematic implementation of Goods and Services Tax. In this grave situation, it is pertinent to focus on craftsmen for their skill development so that they may be self-sufficient in economic terms and at the same time contribute to our ailing economy. More importantly, this sector is labour intensive while the present economic growth is marred with jobless growth. Hope that our political parties will realise the importance of traditional weavers and other craftsmen.

Amir Hussain siswarkalan@gmail.com , with Department of Social Work, AMU, Aligarh, working on “Government Programmes for Promotion of Traditional Crafts with Special Reference to The Weavers: A Case Study of District Mau, U.P).

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