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Ayushman Bharat off to a good start

As many as 28 state governments have signed MoUs with the NHA to implement NHPM. Over 8,000 hospitals have offered to join the network of empanelled facilities that would provide inpatient care to the identified beneficiaries, and 1,350 medical packages—covering surgery, medical and daycare treatments—have already been identified.

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Nearly 3,000 years ago, one of ancient India’s great sages Yajnavalkya composed the Shanti Sukta: “Sarve bhavantu sukhinah; Sarve santu niramayah” (May all be happy, may everyone be free of diseases). What is striking is not only the prescience and universality of this invocation, but also the insight that happiness and health in a populace are inextricably intertwined.

Today, as we reflect upon the journey of India as an independent nation over the last seven decades, the achievements on the health front have not been insubstantial. The life expectancy has more than doubled, and infant and maternal mortality rates are a fraction of what prevailed in 1947. However, there can be no denying the fact that a lot of potential in this sector remains unharnessed—and ill-health is one of the leading causes of Indians falling into poverty. The government spends barely 1% of the GDP on health even as we are confronted with a two-front war—containing the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD), even as we continue grappling with the control of communicable diseases and reproductive and child health issues. As a result, the citizens’ out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure on health constitutes 62% of the total expenditure on health, placing India at 182nd position out of 191 countries on this indicator.

In fact, over 55% of this expenditure is on outpatient care, of which drugs constitute the biggest component. Expectedly, this structure of health financing places a disproportionate burden on the poor families and catastrophic health expenses have contributed to an increase in poverty levels in rural and urban areas by 3.6% and 2.9%, respectively.

Mindful of this reality and to plug the existing gaps in our health system, the government announced a new flagship scheme called the Ayushman Bharat in the Union Budget of 2018-19. One component of the scheme—the National Health Protection Mission (NHPM)—was to provide a financial cover of up to `5 lakh per family per annum to enable them increased access to secondary and tertiary healthcare, for the poor and lower middle class families, in a facility of their choice, irrespective of whether the ownership is public or private. As an initial measure, the plan is to cover 10.74 crore families, or about 50 crore individuals (roughly 40% of the total population), at the bottom of the pyramid as identified through a comprehensive Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) database.

The other component is to build a next-generation primary healthcare system, which would be publicly provided at locations close to the community. It sought to expand the reach and broaden the scope of our primary, preventive and promotive care through a network of 1.5 lakh Health & Wellness Centres (HWCs). It envisages population-level screening to detect diseases early and initiate timely treatment—which is especially critical in the context of India’s rising NCD burden. As an added measure, provision of free drug and diagnostics at these HWCs was expected to take care of that part of the OOP expenses borne by our poorest citizens for accessing outpatient care. The first of such HWCs has already been launched in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, by the Prime Minister on April 14, and as we write this, work is going on in hundreds of others in the 117 ‘aspirational districts’ to provide meaningful and comprehensive primary care to our citizens.Image result for ayushman bharat pib

When the Ayushman Bharat was announced, critics argued that the scheme has been insufficiently imagined, that there was a lack of preparation, that it was not backed by adequate budgetary resources, and that the government lacked the techno-managerial wherewithal for its implementation. The Prime Minister, during his Independence Day address, gave a befitting response to the scepticism and to the naysayers by announcing the soft launch of NHPM, christened the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan. This clarion call from the ramparts of the Red Fort is a clear indication that the teams at the National Health Agency (NHA) and the ministry of health & family welfare (MoHFW) have been able to successfully surmount the significant challenges in terms of creating an IT backbone, cleaning up the beneficiary database, setting in place the guidelines and procedures, negotiating with state governments, while simultaneously building capacities for its implementation. The fact that all this has been achieved in a relatively short span of just six months is a glowing testimony to the hard work and speedy execution by Indu Bhushan and his team at the NHA.

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In addition, as many as 28 state governments have signed a memorandum of understanding with the NHA to implement NHPM, and are in the final stages of preparation for a formal launch. Over 8,000 hospitals have offered to join the network of empanelled facilities that would provide inpatient care to the identified beneficiaries. To ensure that no one is left out, there is no cap on family size or age. Similarly, there can be no exclusion on account of pre-existing disease conditions, among those who are eligible for benefits from day one of the roll-out of the scheme. As many as 1,350 medical packages—covering surgery, medical and daycare treatments—have been identified so that the coverage includes most of the common medical conditions. The software application driving the scheme is designed in such a way that an individual can avail of the benefits anywhere in the country irrespective of her place of origin, and it is cashless for the beneficiary and the claim settlement is paperless for the hospitals participating in the scheme.

 

The NITI Aayog’s Three-Year Action Agenda highlights the need for creating a wave of new institutions to build a 21st century health system that every citizen of the country would be proud of. Setting up of HWCs and the NHA are steps in the right direction, which were long overdue. The government’s active stewardship in leveraging the potential of the mixed health system is a very welcome development. It is all the more heartening to note the political commitment at the highest levels to transform India’s health system into an affordable, accessible, inclusive and efficient system.

The Ayushman Bharat has the potential to protect millions who are pushed into poverty every year due to catastrophic health expenses. Building a well-functioning health system is a work of decades—it took Germany, for example, 127 years to accomplish universal coverage. Thailand undertook reforms over a period of 30 years prior to announcing its universal health policy in 2002. Now that we have unprecedented political backing for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan, the stage is set for its execution. Needless to say, in a country as large and complex as India, we will be faced with many implementation challenges. It is well worth recounting the Bhagavad Gita dictum of “Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam” (the path to redemption/salvation lies in the skilful execution of the job at hand). Thus, it is imperative we stay the course and pursue these ambitious initiatives with utmost vigour and determination.

4GG8U3jG_400x400.jpgAlok Kumar is Advisor and Vinod Paul is Member (Health), NITI Aayog.

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Celebrating Third National Handloom Day: Some Thoughts

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                                                                                                       Dr. S.K. Panda*

Kapada (Clothes) comes next after Roti (Food) as the most important basic need of human being. Aborigines were using bark of trees and leather of animals for protecting themselves from extreme cold and heat in the nature. Discovery of cotton, wool and silk along with the technology for spinning it to yarn and weaving yarn into fabrics mark one of the fascinating links in the evolution of human civilisation. India has a rich tradition of handloom with each state and region known for weaving fabrics unique and peculiar to it. Pashmina Shawl typical to Leh, Ladakh and Kashmir Valley, Kulllu Shawl of Himachal Pradesh, Phulkari and Panja Weave of Panjub, Panchachuli Weave of Haryana, Shisha weave of Rajasthan, famous Benarashi and Chikankari of Uttar Pradesh, Bhagalpuri Silk of Bihar, Bandhani of Gujarat, Paithani of Maharashtra, Mysore Silk of Karnataka, Kasavu of Kerala, Kanjeevaram and Kalamkari of Tamilnadu, Pochampally of Telengana and Andhra Pradesh, Chanderi and Maheswari of Madhya Pradesh, Single and Double ikat of Sambalpur, Odisha, Jamdani of West Bengal, Muga Silk of Assam, Naga Shawl of Nagaland, Rhea and Pachhra of Tripura, Puan Cloth woven on loin loom in Mizoram, all represent a wide range of hand woven fabrics typical to India.

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Spreading from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Kuchh to Cachar, each region of the country has its unique handloom product, which truly reflects the “Unity in Diversity” that India is known for and makes every Indian proud. Continuing and conserving this rich heritage is a national task, which requires active support of the consumers, and producers, duly supplemented by efforts of the central and state governments. Apart from meeting one of the basic needs of human being, handloom forms an important component of the culture and tradition and a pride possession of its owners. In fact, handloom fabrics, known for its rich design, became a source of envy for the foreign rulers apart from the gold and diamond jewellery and spices. There is reference to chopping off fingers of the skilled weavers of Bengal for protecting the British textile industry. However, industrial revolution led developments with production of fabrics in bulk in the power loom and composite mills affected the status of the India handloom industry adversely on a continuous basis over the past decades.

As per the Third Handloom Census (2009-10), the number of handloom fell to 23.77 lakh, by 31.8% from the Second Handloom Census (1995-96). Number of handloom weavers and workers similarly declined to 43.31 lakh by 33.8% from the previous census. However, the share of fulltime weavers increased from 44% (in the second census) to 64% (in the third census). Latter is a positive development indicating that while the total number of handloom and handloom weavers has been decreasing, percentage of weavers pursuing handloom on a fulltime basis have increased. Further, the facts that over 70 % of the weavers are women and majority of the weavers belong to the backward classes make the industry of considerable social significance.

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Notwithstanding the fact that handloom forms a part of the tradition and culture, in a free market economy the strength of a product depends on its quality and price, as compared with competing products of similar nature. Share of fabrics woven with manmade fibre in power looms and composite mills has been increasing steadily supported by new technology. In order to compete with such fabrics in a free market, handloom is required to be strengthened based on its unique nature in respect of quality and new designs. Emergence of the urban middle class with sizable disposable income has opened a new window of opportunity for the handloom products, particularly from well-to-do customers looking for ethnic product of unique nature. This will help handloom in facing the competition from power loom and mill-made fabrics. This has necessitated empowering the handloom weavers adequately with financial and technical support, handholding and recognition for development on a sustainable basis by exploiting its own strength rather than depending upon subsidy based crutches.

The approach for promotion of handloom got a big boost under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, who took personal interest in promotion of Khadi and Handloom as a matter of national pride on the one hand and for providing livelihood to lakhs of handloom weavers depending on this age old industry on the other. A two prong approach for development of the handloom industry was taken up covering giving social recognition to the handloom weavers and enabling the weavers to weave unique quality products for increasing his earning substantially. These measures envisage attracting the young generation to continue in the profession. Some of the major components of this new approach included the following:

  • The 7th August was declared as the National Handloom Day and the first national handloom day was observed in Chennai on the 7th August 2015.
  • India Handloom Brand was launched for assuring quality of product and purity of design, dye, fibre and other specifications to the customer/ buyer.
  • Development of handloom cluster with about one thousand weavers was taken up with provision of assistance up to Rupees two crores for infrastructure namely a training shed, godown, office room with internet connectivity and rest room; provision of loom and accessories, training and designing to individual weavers and marketing. This will serve as the nucleus of quality production. Further, production of handloom fabrics has to be taken up based on “zero defect” (in product) and “zero effect” (on environment) and meeting the changing taste of the customer.
  • Provision of technical support for development new design, dying, quality weaving at the production centre level. Training and capacity building for imparting technical skill as well as soft skill for accessing the market as envisaged under the ‘Skill India’ initiative covering fresher’s training, Recognition of Prior Learning(RPL) along with using the expertise of award winning skilled weavers.
  • Strengthening the Indian Institute of Handloom Technology and Weavers Service Centre, converting the handloom Diploma courses into Degree level, changing the syllabus for sensitizing the students to work closely with the handloom weavers, posting at least one Handloom Degree/Diploma holder in each cluster.
  • Evolving synergy between the handloom and Fashion (the National Institute of Fashion Technology) for promoting handloom products with fashion giving specific attention to the changing taste of the younger generation and high-end customers.
  • Ensuring supply of yarn, dye and chemicals and weaving accessories with quality at a rate lower than market price through the National Handloom Development Corporation.
  • Financial assistance for facilitating change in design, compensating the wage-loss, technical training, supply of required accessories, work-shed, insurance, health care and other facilities to the handloom weavers.
  • Promoting young enterprising weaver as entrepreneur for establishing direct link with market/ boutique owners, promoting sales through e-marketing, which will reduce the cost of transaction and thereby increase earning of the weavers substantially. Assisting educated enterprising youth from the weavers’ family for starting their own enterprise under the “Startup India” and “Standup India” initiatives with financial support from the “Mudra Bank” as the most critical element for accessing market digitally under “Digital India” imitative.

The Second National Handloom Day was observed at Varanasi, an important centre of handloom production. Spirit of handloom of Varanasi is reflected in aspirations of every Indian parent to see their daughter in Banerashi attire on her wedding day. The Third National Handloom Day is scheduled be held at Guwahati, another important handloom centre known for the famous golden Muga fabric with bright colour designs of Sualkuchi, Assam.

Handloom product of India represents an inseparable part of our rich culture and tradition and act as a source of livelihood for millions engaged in this activity. This development is a continuous process and requires active cooperation of all the stakeholders, viz. (a) the handloom weavers in producing fabric with new design and quality as per the liking of the customer, (b) the industry supplying raw material for ensuring quality and at a reasonable price, (c) the financial institutions for providing capital at a reasonable rate of interest and simple procedure, and (d) e-commerce agencies for marketing with low transaction cost, etc. The government agencies, particularly the Ministry of Textiles, the Development Commissioner (Handloom) with the network of Weavers Service Centre and the state departments dealing with promotion of handloom are required to assist the weavers with commitment, compassion and due  recognition. The common consumer need to support by wearing handloom on at least one day in a week, in addition to festivals and ceremonies, which will give them the feeling of being Indian and contributing to welfare and livelihood of  the talented weavers.

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Observing National Handloom Day needs to be seen as an opportunity and a duty by each and every Indian for respecting our culture and tradition, and supporting the primary producers-handloom weavers with exceptional skill and creative ability. However, it is only one of the links in the chain covering “Make in India”, “Skill India”, “Digital India”, “Start up India”, “Stand up India”, “Mudra Bank” etc initiatives, which are required to be directed for empowering the handloom weavers with skill, income and dignity for achieving the noble dream of making the development inclusive and participative “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”.

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Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, addressing the weavers on the first National Handloom Day on the 7th August 2015 at Chennai

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*The author is an IAS (retd.), Former Secretary, Ministry of Textiles.

Views expressed in the article are author’s personal views.

Maheshwar – Revival of Princely Relation

Source: Book on Success Stories from Handloom Clusters, released by the Prime Minister on 1st National Handloom Day - 7 August 2015

Maheshwar town is built on the site of the ancient city of Maheshmati – the capital of King Kirtivirya Arjuna – who finds mention in the Sanskrit epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana. Maheshwar was the capital of southern Avanti, with the fort of Maheshwar constructed during the rule of Emperor Akbar. After the Mughal era, in the late 18th century, Maheshwar served as the capital of Rajmata Ahilya Bai Holkar, ruler of the state of Indore from year 1767 to 1795. She established several buildings, public works, numerous temples, a fort and ghats on the banks of the river Narmada.

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She promoted trade and industry, and invited weavers from various princely states like Hyderabad and Mandav to encourage the handloom industry of Maheshwar. The Rajmata would present the handloom saris, pagrees and safas to guests and rulers from other states. At present 2,668 handlooms are working in this cluster, and approximately 8,000 weavers are attached with the profession producing around 32 lakh metres of fabric every year.

Earlier, the entire process of weaving was performed by hand on pit and dobby looms, with warping carried out in an open space. Dyeing was performed manually, in tubs on a traditional furnace. 20/22 deniers 2 ply undegummed – kora or degummed silk in warp, 80s and 2/120s cotton yarns in weft, and zari for designs were used.

Making a Difference

From the year 2011-12, a planned intervention was implemented in 3 clusters, through the introduction of the Integrated Handloom Development Scheme (IHDS) of the central government, and the Integrated Cluster Development Programme (ICDP) of the state government. The weavers were provided accessories like the take-up motion mechanism, which enabled the continuous winding of cloth and the required pick-spacing, thereby improving the quality of the fabric. Dobby and jacquard were brought in to upgrade their looms, and training was imparted to weavers in the areas of design, dyeing and weaving; managerial training was provided to improve skills in operations, financial planning and attitude development.

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To improve infrastructure, 10 work-sheds were constructed, and a small dye house with an Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) was set up. At present, 65 weaver SHGs, 3 co-operative societies, 3 small handloom units, and 3 NGOs are working in the cluster. Awareness25.JPG camps were conducted about various government programmes, namely Health Insurance Scheme, Weavers Credit Card (WCC), Mill Gate Price Scheme, safe dye utilities, ETP, and the production of defect-free fabric. They increased the knowhow of the weavers towards – not only the benefits that can accrue to them through availing of these schemes – but also of the quality parameters in the market today.

A dye house assured better quality standards with improved fastness of colour, and enabled weavers to dye larger quantities – as much as up to 100 kgs. of yarn per day. With the recent introduction of NHDC’s smaller dyestuff packaging, through their yarn bank, it is envisaged that dyeing related problems will become minimised. Till date, the yarn bank has supplied yarn worth Rs. 45 lakhs to weavers through this initiative. With the introduction of frame looms, weavers could add more looms to their 26.JPGcollection since these could be set up and operated even in multistoreyed buildings, enabling them to scale up business without needing to displace themselves. Nearly 840 looms have been added in the last 5 years.

A significant increase in wages was visible, and weavers now – in 2014-15 – earn Rs. 515 per sari as against 313 in 2011-12. Seen, today, as an attractive career possibility, the educated younger generation is also joining this field, creating the scope for continuity of this classic regional practice.

A Weaver’s Story

27.JPGBasant Kumar Shrwanekar, aged 42 years and a resident of Khedapati Marg Maheshwar, of Khargone District, is a beneficiary. Born in a traditional weaver family, he learnt weaving from his parents. Initially, assisting his father and grandfather with yarn dyeing, Basant acquired a working knowledge about the basics of the dyeing process. He passed his 10th class examination, and concentrated on yarn dyeing as a vocation – carrying on the trade at his work-shed, in open tubs, with the help of 6 workers. He earned approximately Rs. 18,000 per month through his efforts.

With the assistance of Government schemes on skills training, he learnt the scientific way of dyeing and, today, runs his own dye house – funded under the PPP model by the State Government. Consisting of a baby boiler, two arm-dyeing machines, and steel vessels for tub dyeing, it is also connected with an ETP thus meeting environmental stipulations. Because of the existing standardised and controlled conditions, the quality of dyeing and colour-fastness has improved, and Basant is now able to dye 100 kgs. of yarn – cotton and silk – with excellent results. The wastewater discharged through the dyeing process is treated through the ETP, and reused. With bulk production, the dyeing cost has decreased to Rs. 140 per kg. from the earlier 150 for lighter shades, the number of helpers has increased to 12, and Basant’s own income has catapulted to Rs. 30,000 per month.

Understanding the value of technical and skills knowledge, Shri Basant Kumar has – in turn -sent one of his assistants for a short-term training programme in dyeing, to Weavers Service Centre, Indore. Realising the need of education for the development of his business, his son has also been admitted to IIHT, Jodhpur, for the 2015 session in the handloom technology course. Basant is fully satisfied with his profession and intends to introduce his son to the business after he graduates from IIHT.

Courtesy: Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India

Cholapur – Restoration of Awadh Jamdani

Source: Book on Success Stories from Handloom Clusters, released by the Prime Minister on 1st National Handloom Day - 7 August 2015

Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world, is a tract of land lying between the Varuna and Assi rivers. It is considered to be the holiest of all pilgrimages, so much so that its prominence in Hindu mythology is unrivalled. And so is its richness, in almost all spheres – of music, arts, crafts, education and, especially silk weaving – an exotic expression of beauty manifesting in precious silk saris and brocades – collectors’ items across the world today.

Amongst the various centres of silk weaving in and around Varanasi, Cholapur, located 20 km from Varanasi, is one such cluster famed for its fine silk saris like the Rangkat, Konia, Butidar, Shikargah, Script, Tanchoi and Jangla selections, its celebrated Awadh (Tanda) Jamdani sari, and its fine cotton and silk yardages.

Cholapur : A Weaver Concentrated Cluster

Cholapur, one of the 8 blocks of Varanasi, is a weaver-centric area, engaged in the17.JPG production of its traditional silk saris, as well as of contemporary handloom products. It is the consistent practice of weavers and their families, over decades, that have left them highly skilled and experienced in the art of silk weaving. With pit looms in the majority – equipped with jacquards of 120 hooks, 160 hooks and 200 hooks – the Butidar and satin Tanchoi saris, and the Sanjab were the main products of this area. The cut-work, Kaduwa and Fekuwa were the leading techniques of handloom weaving practised over a period of time.

The weavers customarily worked on a wage basis with traders in the city, but with frugal and irregular wages their survival – along with their families – was tenuous, causing many to migrate to other cities in search of more lucrative jobs.

Post Intervention

Significant improvements can be seen now, since the implementation of the cluster programme in 2009, under the Integrated Handloom Development Scheme (IHDS), implemented by the Weavers’ Service Centre, Varanasi.

The intervention for development of the Cholapur cluster covered 5 villages of the block, where training sessions were conducted for 100 weavers, exposure visits for 40 weavers, distribution of handloom parts to 115 weavers, 30 weavers were sent to various exhibitions, and 7 buyer-seller meets organised to provide marketing support to the cluster. Technical training was provided for home-based hand-dyeing, and necessary tools and equipment supplied to weavers towards self-sufficiency.

The intervention also saw the revival of various languishing woven crafts – like the Jamdani silk, and the Script and Rangkat saris – through contemporary designs and fresh colour schemes. The Weavers’ Service Centre made all efforts to provide further visibility to the cluster, through direct associations with reputed firms like Raw Mango Pvt. Ltd. – Delhi, Kinkhab – Bengaluru, Taj Khazana – Mumbai, Ritika Pvt. Ltd. – Kolkata, and with leading fashion designers like Sanjay Garg, Tarun Tahiliani, Jai Ram Rakhiyani, Ritu Kumar, Chetna Desai, Krishna Mehta, Bina Rao, Neeru Kumar and others. This programme has elevated the weavers position in terms of knowledge of new processes / techniques of dyeing and weaving, current colour schemes and market trends, contemporary design concepts, and increased and stable incomes.

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They have been able to tap into new markets, overcoming the hindrance of middlemen, which has impacted their income exponentially. Prior to the implementation of this scheme, the weavers earned barely Rs. 80 – 100 per day – this has now gone up to 300 – 500. The newer generation is motivated to take up handloom weaving as a profession, and to carry this art forward.

Although the limited product range of the Cholapur handloom cluster acts as a big hurdle in its path of development, yet its progress serves as a role model for several other clusters of Varanasi. The block level Common Facility Centre (CFC), and Common Service Centre (CSC) provide basic facilities to the weavers – yarn at subsidised costs, designs, warping and dyeing facilities with azo-free dyes, and training opportunities. The CSC also offers important services like opening of bank accounts, provision of Aadhar cards, PAN cards, EPIC cards, booking of train and air tickets, mobile recharging, filing e-income tax returns, filling of online forms, and other e-services.

Several handloom weavers of the region have been honoured for their work – Ainul Haque, Kamaluddin, Jamaluddin, Shah Mohammad and Ali Rasool were felicitated with National Awards, and Haji Mohd. Ishaq received the Sant Kabir Award as well as a National Award. For the revival of the Script sari, Ashik Ali merited a National Award too, while for the revival of the Rangkat sari, Moinuddin Ansari was awarded a National Merit Certificate.

With proper support – in terms of marketing, design, raw material sourcing, training and development – the growth and expansion of this cluster can be manifold.

The Weaver’s Perspective

19.JPGAged 45 years, Peer Mohammad belongs to a weaving family. His father, Haji Mohammad Ishaq, a skilled and devoted weaver, looked after his entire family with earnings collected through handloom weaving. Peer Mohammad has been weaving alongside his father ever since he was in school.

Dealing in medium range silk and nylon / polyester saris, he worked on a wage basis with local businessmen, collecting very low wages – not near enough to support his entire family of two brothers and two sisters. As a result of the intervention, Peer Mohammad was motivated to revive the Jamdani style of weaving in silk as well as in cotton, and adopted new design styles. Since then, he has never looked back. His great zeal and constant efforts have awarded him remarkable success, to the extent that he is now the president as well as the master weaver of the entire Cholapur cluster. At present he runs 4 looms within his home, and as a master weaver is engaged with 20 other looms in adjacent villages. His success has inspired many other weavers to adopt the Jamdani style of weaving, making Cholapur synonymous with Jamdani saris. This has opened up better markets and avenues for Peer Mohammad and his fellow weavers, giving them an improved lifestyle and higher standards of living.

Courtesy: Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India

Burdwan – A Period Revival

Source: Book on Success Stories from Handloom Clusters, released by the Prime Minister on 1st National Handloom Day - 7 August 2015

The region of Bengal has been an important textile export zone, and remains an eminent destination for the production of traditional fabrics. Burdwan, amongst other districts of West Bengal, marks a significant site in the handloom map of not only Bengal, but also India and the world, for its production of Tangail saris. In addition, it also produces scarves and stoles of cotton, silk and various blends. The Office of the Development Commissioner for Handlooms identified Samudragarh-Dhatrigram handloom cluster in Burdwan district for implementation of the Integrated Handloom Cluster Development Programme.

The weaving community here consists mainly of the Basak community, which migrated from Tangail district in present Bangladesh, and settled here before year 1942. They are now playing the key role in the growth and development of this cluster area. Traditionally, they wove Jamdani and Tangail Nakshaparth saris with Jacquard designs. Both are known for their exquisite detailing & craftsmanship.

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There are 5740 looms and about 18,000 weavers, including ancillary weavers, who worked mainly on the fly-shuttle pit loom with jacquard fittings. Most processes of dyeing and warping were primitive, and 100s single cotton yarn was used for both warp and weft. The handloom cluster suffered as it was unorganised, and the weavers isolated with additional constraints of low capital, poor exposure to new technologies, inadequate institutional linkages and support, and absence of marketing intelligence.

With the intervention, 50 Self Help Groups (SHGs) were formed, and individual weavers were covered under a single registered producer company named ‘Burdwan Handloom Developers & Producers Co. Ltd’. This encouraged collective decisionmaking and planning in procuring raw materials, design support and marketing platforms for individual weavers. It also enabled better financial linkages with the district Lead Bank for credit facilities.

For any craft to survive as an ongoing living entity and practice, it needs to lend itself to a continuous process of experimentation, change and growth. It must evolve with the changing times, and relate – through a universal language of aesthetics – to consumers from across cultures while staying firm in its own idiom and integrity. Design intervention was made primarily through the introduction of silk, tussar and linen yarns in both warp and weft. This contributed a subtle lustre to the Tangail saris, and increased their reach to more sophisticated customers throughout the country. Product extensions through smaller items like scarves, stoles, home furnishings, accessories and other goods, created a newer portfolio of options for Tangail’s identity. Expert intervention, and skill upgradation through institutional linkages like NIFT and WSC to local designers, expanded design knowledge.

Organisations like State Apex, CCIC and Handloom House came forth to provide marketing tie-ups for showcasing the new identity of Tangail products. Significant turnovers were recorded in retail sales through participation in pan India Exhibitions, Expos and SilkFabs that provided validation of the efforts and encouragement to the weavers. More importantly, these efforts directly channelised the profits to the weaver by removing the middlemen.

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Loom improvements were carried out through the introduction of the steel reed to replace the bamboo variety, as it improved the quality of the product. Infrastructure was also strengthened through the development of a ‘Common Facility Centre’ (CFC) as a resource and dyeing unit with a mini boiler and a generator set. Not only was the dyeing cost to the weaver reduced, but the consumption expense too decreased tremendously through the saving on the overall water consumption for dyeing. A Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) created world-class standards in tandem with green house gasses (GHG) emission norms. A yarn bank was promoted to benefit individual weavers. The common sourcing of bulk yarn has empowered weavers to access the requisite quantities at better rates, while reducing the monopoly of local market traders. Through upgraded technology and skill development of weavers, production per loom per day has increased from 3.66 metres to 4.5 metres. Furthermore, a ‘Design Studio’ was set up inside the CFC Unit during 2014-15. Previously, the weavers performed all the design related work manually – such as paper designing, card cutting, punching and drafting. Hence the number of design developments per day was minimal, as were the colour combination options.

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The Design Studio enabled the development of exclusive motifs, more contemporary color combinations, and better time utilisation for the weaver, giving them more time to invest in other necessary aspects. Earlier, local weavers / designers relied on design feedback from the trader or master weavers, but through the intervention of an expert designer in the cluster, they started receiving constant and dynamic support about new concepts, colour forecasts and designs.

The producer company has begun collecting the produce of individual weavers, and marketing it to bigger companies in bulk. The weavers are now earning 9,000 – 12,000 per month instead of the previous Rs. 5,000 – 8,000 which they earned through the Mahajans / local market.

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For the Basak community, weaving has been the prime source of livelihood, with their youngsters already acquainted with it since childhood. The younger generation is more educated and has been reluctant to take up weaving as a profession; but after the cluster intervention programme this scenario is changing. Through various awareness programmes over the last few years, they have been somewhat motivated by the government initiatives, beginning to realise the significance of the industry in playing a major role in employment generation. At present 47% of the youth has been inspired to join the profession, as against the earlier 30% before the intervention. If the birds go homing, it’s a good sign for the possibility of revival of the Burdwan cluster and the future of Tangail saris.

A Weavers Tale

Haran Sarkar, a 28-year old weaver from Burdwan, worked independently before the12.JPG intervention of this programme. He produced zari-bordered Tangail saris on his own loom at home, taking yarns and designs from the local Mahajan, and selling the finished saris back to him on a wage payment varying from Rs. 180 to Rs. 250 per sari.

After the intervention, Haran, along with his young friends, came forward and, as per instructions of the Cluster Development Executive (CDE) formed an SHG named Tantubay Swanirbhar Gosthi. This was eventually registered with the local UCO Bank, and Haran Sarkar elected its Secretary. He was sent for the ‘Managerial Skill Development Training’ at the Enterprise Development Institute, Kolkata, and to WSC, Kolkata, for upgradation of his weaving skills. After these trainings, Haran gained confidence and started producing – on his own loom – the new designs developed by the cluster designer.

He also began getting quality yarn at cheaper rates from cluster yarn bank, HBHG ___AA1 (CURVE).indd 75 29/07/15 6:24 am UDAAN | 76 with the loan he received from the bank through their SHG. Sarkar, then started showcasing his products at Expos / Exhibitions which gave him a new insight into market trends. Through consumer interactions, he began producing Tangail saris without zari and with a new look for the Kerala and Chennai markets. In addition, he established fresh markets for his own traditional product as well. An owner of seven handlooms, now Sarkar is earning good wages for his products.

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Says Sarkar, “After cluster intervention I have received many benefits, like other weavers, through participation in different training programme on skill development. I have acquired much knowledge mainly on how to change the design pattern / technique / colour combination as per market trends. Through new product development, and participation in different exhibitions / expos throughout India, I came to know the real value of our product. Accordingly, I changed my design pattern and colour combination, which in turn has increased my wages from Rs. 250 to Rs. 450 a day. I also have a Rs. 25,000/- credit loan through my Weavers’ Credit Card from UCO Bank, which has helped to purchase new handlooms and raw material. I am buying yarn at subsidised rates from the cluster yarn depot at the CFC Unit, and getting marketing support through the Producer Company on a regular basis.”

Courtesy: Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India

 

हथकरघा क्षेत्र के लिए असीम संभावनाएं

i20178402*के वी वेंकटसुब्रमणियम  

विविध रंगों, आंखों को सुकुन देने वाली डिजायनें, चमचमाते रूपों और शानदार ताना बाना और उनकी खूबसूरत बुनावट इन कपड़ों में एक विशिष्ट आकर्षण पैदा कर देती हैं। देश के पूर्वोत्तर क्षेत्र से लेकर कश्मीर और दक्षिणवर्ती हिस्से तक इन कपड़ों की विशिष्टताएं एक अनूठी और मोहक आकर्षण जगाती हैं। सदियों से, हथकरघा का संबंध कपड़ों से जुड़ी उत्कृष्ट भारतीय कारीगरी और लगभग प्रत्येक राज्य में लाखों हथकरघा कारीगरों को रोजगार का स्रोत उपलब्ध कराने से जोड़ा जाता रहा है।

तेजी से आ रहे बदलावों के बावजूद, कला एवं करघा परंपराएं कलाकारों और शिल्पकारों की कई पीढि़यों के सतत प्रयासों के कारण अब तक जीवित रही हैं जिन्होंने अपने सपनों एवं विजन को उत्कृष्ट हथकरघा उत्पादों में पिरोया और अपने कौशलों को अपनी आने वाली पीढि़यों तक रूपांतरित किया।

प्राचीन काल से ही, भारतीय हथकरघा उत्पादों की पहचान उनकी दोषरहित गुणवत्ता से की जाती रही है। इनमें चंदेरी का मलमल, वाराणसी के सिल्क के  बेल बूटेदार वस्त्र, राजस्थान एवं ओडिशा के बंधेज की रंगाई, मछलीपटनम के छींटदार कपड़े, हैदराबाद के हिमरूस, पंजाब के खेस, फर्रुखाबाद के प्रिंट, असम एवं मणिपुर के फेनेक तथा टोंगम तथा बॉटल डिजायन, मध्य प्रदेश की महेश्वरी साडि़यां और वडोदरा की पटोला साडि़यां शामिल हैं।

इसके अतिरिक्त, कांचीपुरम एवं बनारस सिल्क, छत्तीसगढ़ एवं असम के कोसा एवं मोगा सिल्क, या बंगाल की जामधानी, भागलपुर सिल्क, मध्य प्रदेश की चंदेरी और ओडिशा के टसर और इकाट जैसे इन विशिष्ट हथकरघा उत्पादों के निर्माण में शामिल कौशल देश की विशेष सांस्कृतिक पूंजी का हिस्सा हैं। हालांकि आज हल्के पश्चिमी परिधान पसंद किए जाते हैं, लेकिन हममें से अधिकांश लोग शादी विवाह एवं त्यौहारों जैसे विशेष अवसरों पर सर्वाधिक जटिल ढंग से बुने पारंपरिक परिधान पहनना नहीं भूलते।

स्वतंत्रता प्राप्ति के बाद, सरकार ने हथकरघा बुनकरों को तथा पावरलूम तथा मिल क्षेत्रों के  अतिक्रमण से इस उद्योग की सांस्कृतिक धरोहर की रक्षा करने तथा खादी को सम्मान देने की गांधीवादी विरासत को संरक्षित करने के लिए कई सुरक्षोपाय किए हैं। हथकरघा (उत्पादन के लिए सामग्रियों का आरक्षण) अधिनियम, 1985 ने किनारी वाली साडि़यों, धोती, लुंगी जैसी 22पारंपरिक वस्त्रों को विशिष्ट हथकरघा उत्पादन से अलग कर दिया और उन्हें पावरलूम क्षेत्र के दायरे से बाहर कर दिया। लेकिन जब आठ वर्षों और पावरलूम क्षेत्र द्वारा एक लंबी मुकदमेबाजी के बाद 1993 में यह कानून प्रभावी हुआ, तो आरक्षित सूची में केवल 11 मद थे।

1990 के दशक के उत्तरार्ध में, ग्राहकों की बदलती अभिरुचियों, व्यापार प्रचलनों, चीनी क्रेप यार्न के शुल्क मुक्त आयातों जैसे कई कारकों के संमिश्रण की वजह से उत्पादन प्रभावित हुआ और बुनकर मजदूर बन गए। धीरे धीरे, लोगों की रूझान में परिवर्तन आया और पारंपरिक शिल्पकारों को अपनी आजीविका बनाये रखना कठिन हो गया। बहरहाल, 2015 से साडि़यों ने हथकरघा में लोगों की दिलचस्पी फिर से इतनी अधिक बढ़ा दी जितनी पहले कभी नहीं थी।

हथकरघा क्षेत्र ग्रामीण भारत में कृषि के बाद दूसरा सबसे बड़ा रोजगार प्रदाता क्षेत्र है और यह विभिन्न समुदायों के 4.33 मिलियन लोगों को रोजगार उपलब्ध कराता है जो देश भर में 2.38 मिलियन करघों से जुड़े हुए हैं। यह देश में कपड़ा उत्पादन में लगभग 15 प्रतिशत का योगदान देता है और निर्यात आय में भी सहायता करता है। विश्व में हाथ से बुने हुए 95 प्रतिशत कपड़े भारत के ही होते हैं।

उद्योग के गौरवशाली इतिहास और वर्तमान समय में इसकी प्रासंगिकता को स्वीकार करते हुए, सरकार हाथ से बुने कपड़ों और बुनकरों के पुनरुत्थान के प्रति प्रतिबद्ध है। वर्ष 2015 में प्रधानमंत्री श्री नरेन्द्र मोदी ने 1905 में आरंभ स्वदेशी आंदोलन की याद में 7 अगस्त को राष्ट्रीय हथकरघा दिवस घोषित किया और इस दिवस को देश के बुनकरों को समर्पित कर दिया और पांच एफ: फार्म टू फाइबर, फाइबर टू फैब्रिक, फैब्रिक टू फैशन एवं फैशन टू फॉरेन के अपने चुनावी वादे को पूरा किया।

sari making

प्रधानमंत्री ने ग्राहकों का विश्वास जीतने के लिए सामाजिक एवं पर्यावरण अनुकूलता के अतिरिक्त कच्चा माल, प्रसंस्करण, बुनावट एवं अन्य मानदंडों के लिहाज से उत्पादों की गुणवत्ता के समर्थन के लिए उसी दिन ‘भारत हथकरघा‘ ब्रांड (आईएचबी) भी लांच किया।

video

आईएचबी ने उच्च गुणवत्तापूर्ण हथकरघा उत्पादों को बढ़ावा देने के लिए ग्राहकों के बीच जागरूकता निर्माण करने एवं इसके लिए एक विशिष्ट पहचान बनाने में सहायता देने के लिए शीघ्र ही सोशल मीडिया पर ग्राहकों, विशेष रूप से, युवाओं के बीच अपनी उपस्थिति दर्ज करा दी।

जुलाई 2006 में कपड़ा मंत्रालय का पदभार ग्रहण करने के बाद से ही केन्द्रीय मंत्री श्रीमती स्मृति इरानी ने सोशल मीडिया पर पिछले अगस्त से अपने ‘ आई वियर हैंडलूम‘ अभियान के साथ एक उदाहरण स्थापित किया है।

सरकार ने भी हथकरघाओं को पुनरुजीवित करने के लिए कई कदम उठाए हैं। सरकार ने बुनकरों की आय बढ़ाने पर विशेष बल दिया है जिससे युवा पीढ़ी आकर्षित होकर इस पेशे से जुड़ सकती है। इन कदमों में क्लस्टरों में बुनकरों को संगठित रूप देना एवं समान सुविधा केंद्रों के निर्माण के जरिये उन्हें बुनियादी सुविधाएं उपलब्ध कराना शामिल हैं।

हथकरघा को बढ़ावा देने के लिए कपड़ा मंत्री ने अभी हाल में एक अनूठी सार्वजनिक-निजी साझीदारी के जरिये देश के अग्रणी डिलायनरों को एक साथ लाने का काम किया है। उनमें से एक दर्जन से भी अधिक डिजायनरों को उत्पाद विकास एवं बुनकरों को उनके कौशल को उन्नत बनाने हेतु उन्हें प्रशिक्षण देने के लिए हैंडलुम क्लस्टर सौंपे गए।

अन्य कदमों में- ई कॉमर्स के जरिये उत्पादों को बेचने के लिए बुनकरों को प्रोत्साहित करना, बुनकरों के परिवारों के शिक्षित युवाओं को बुनकर उद्यमियों के रूप में प्रोत्साहित करना जिन्हें प्रत्यक्ष रूप से बाजार सूचना, उत्पाद एवं बाजार कपड़ा प्राप्त होगा, बाजार को विस्तारित करने एवं आय में बढोतरी करने के लिए हथकरघा को फैशन एवं पर्यटन से जोड़ना, और डिजायन विकास तथा विपणन में निजी क्षेत्र को सम्मिलित करना शामिल है।

कपड़ा मंत्रालय सभी प्रकार के कपड़ों के लिए भारत को एक वैश्विक सोर्सिंग केंद्र्र बनाने का सतत प्रयास कर रहा है जिससे कि भारत का हथकरघा अंतरराष्ट्रीय फैशन उद्योग में अपना विशेष योगदान दे सके।

बुनकरों की सुविधा, उत्पादकता एवं गुणवत्ता के लिहाज से हाथ से बुनाई की जाने वाली प्रौद्योगिकी को उन्नत बनाने के प्रयास जारी हैं। हाथ से बुनाई की जाने वाली विरासत की निरंतरता सुनिश्चित करने के लिए, देश भर में स्थित नौ भारतीय हथकरघा प्रौद्योगिकी संस्थान अगली पीढ़ी को हथकरघा बुनाई में विशिष्ट प्रशिक्षण प्रदान कर रहे हैं।

आधुनिक विश्व में ग्राहकों की बदलती मांग की पूर्ति करने के लिए, भारत में हथकरघा बुनाई रोजाना विकसित हो रही है। भारी खेसमंट, पुनरावर्तित गलीचा एवं मोटे कपास में जैकक्वार्ड बुने कपड़े तथा रेशमी कपड़े आज सबसे के पसंदीदा वस्त्र बन गए हैं। हाथ से बुनने वाले बुनकर कपास एवं रेशम में घरों के लिए सजावटी एवं फनिर्शिंग कपड़ों की विशाल श्रृंखला प्रस्तुत करते हैं। हाथ से बुने उत्पादों के निर्यात में 50 प्रतिशत से अधिक योगदान गृह कपड़ा उत्पादों का होता है। सेलेब्रिटी और डिजायनर लगातार दुनिया भर में भारतीय हथकरघों को फैशन स्टेटमेंट बनाये रखते हैं।

हथकरघा उत्पादन की विकेंद्रित प्रकृति और पर्यावरण पर इसका गैर-प्रदूषणकारी प्रभाव इसे भविष्य में एक पसंदीदा क्षेत्र बनाता है। एक निम्न पूंजी-उत्पादन अनुपात के साथ, इस क्षेत्र की मजबूती इसके अनूठेपन, समृद्ध परंपरा, लघु उत्पादन के लचीलेपन, नवोन्मेषण के प्रति खुलेपन और आपूर्तिकर्ताओं की जरुरतों के प्रति अनुकूलता में निहित है।

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*लेखक एक स्वतंत्र पत्रकार और स्तंभकार हैं जिन्हें मीडिया की सभी धाराओं-प्रिंट, ऑनलाइन, रेडियो एवं टेलीविजन में चार दशकों से भी अधिक का अनुभव है। वह विकास से जुड़े मुद्वों पर लिखते हैं। इस लेख में व्यक्त विचार लेखक के निजी विचार हैं।

Shantipur-An Age Lod Heritage

Source: Book on Success Stories from Handloom Clusters, released by the Prime Minister on 1st National Handloom Day - 7 August 2015

The traditional art of weaving of Shantipur in Bengal is said to have started in 1409 A.D. during the regime of Gaur Ganesh Danu Mardhandev. This sari weaving practice began in the late 17th century under the rule of the Nadia king, Rudra Roy, and has remained in existence ever since. Gaining eminence during the Mughal era when the production of saris became systematized, their popularity ensured their export to Afghanistan, Iran, Arabia, Greece and Turkey. This trade continued till the early twentieth century when the weaving tradition – having survived time immemorial – was languishing.

However, the prevalence of skill, and the unique positioning of the yarn quality provided enormous scope for a resurgence of the weaving industry.

A planned intervention redefined the story of Shantipur. Among several handloom clusters in the Nadia district, Shantipur is now the largest, with 80% households engaged in weaving activities. There are about 70,000 working looms and 90,000 persons involved, directly or indirectly, in weaving and its preparatory processes.

Weaving is carried out by skilled artisans of the family, mostly on traditional fly-shuttle pit looms with jacquards. There are around 111 weaving communities, with the majority belonging to the Tantubay, Pramanik, Kastha, Dalal, and Khan clans.

Scaling up

Scaling up to a turnover of Rs. 105 lakhs from a mere Rs. 10 lakhs, Shantipur’s success story was a result of multi-pronged planning and execution. At a macro level, institutional development was brought forth through 14 consortiums, coupled with the capacity building of 185 Self Help Groups (SHGs) covering more than 5000 weavers. Strengthening 300 weavers of the Weavers’ Consortium (registered as a non-profit society) through collateral free cash credit, created the foundation of the enterprise. This led to an enhanced perception of individuality, interest and value for the weaver.

Capacity building is crucial to the success of a cluster, empowering the stakeholders in collective decisionmaking and bargaining strength. 2571 weavers were trained in design, marketing and management skills. Some of these groups have evolved into an SHG federation, as evidence of success. To widen their world view, weavers were also trained in areas of entrepreneurship, management, packaging, visual merchandising, fabric defect issues and quality assurance, color forecasting, GI, Handloom Mark, vegetable dyeing, export procedures, block and screen printing, and basic computer and English language literacies. Multiple exposure visits for the weavers – to Alleppey, Kannur, Kaladi, Pochampally, Bargarh, Bhagalpur and Napata, Malda, Baroda and Surat – added to this effort. It also led to increased strength of local organisations and leadership, and to reduced dependency on intermediation by outsiders for access to resources, markets and public institutions.

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Multiple state government schemes and international funding aided facilitation of infrastructure and knowledge transfer. An attempt was made to design, plan and diversify products in order to develop new markets, as also to revive the traditional designs of Shantipur. These efforts resulted in a new vocabulary of design, and sample catalogues were created through a Pneumatic-Jacquard operated handloom in the newly developed ‘Common Facility Centre (CFC)’. Weavers realized the possibility of extending the design language into multiple product categories such as saris, fabrics for salwar-kameez, home furnishings and more.

The ‘Design Studio’, with its CAD-CAM facilities, provided the benefit of new age design technology to 1500 weavers who, as a result, experienced an income increase of Rs. 4,000 per year on an average. They also gained a time-saving of 6 hours a day. The designers now spend just an hour to punch a design which otherwise took them 7 hours to execute. This saved time is now invested in the development of designs, thus raising the capacity for creating new designs from 400 to 4000 annually. Once the weavers understood the benefits of new age technology, promotional grants were facilitated for the creation of working capital, for providing computers to local designers, and for the functioning of a Web Portal under CSR support from Exim bank. Such institutional linkages, at every level, became a common thread of success at the Shantipur cluster.

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Individually invested infrastructural dependencies of weavers were reduced, in terms of dyeing expenses, through the CFC. Not only was the dyeing cost to the weaver reduced by 30%, but the related cost of chemical and water consumptions were also brought down by 22% and 30% respectively. The cost of fuel for the dyeing of yarn became a mere Rs. 7.20 per kg from the earlier Rs. 70. A yarn bank was promoted to benefit 700 weavers; common sourcing of bulk yarn has empowered weavers to procure this commodity from NHDC at a 15% lower cost. In addition, a Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) which has become fully functional during 2014, has created world-class standards, leading to its recognition – by the Ministry of Textiles – as a Model ETP in the handloom sector of India.

At the process stage, new generation fibres – such as lyocell, soyabean, organic cotton4.JPG and bamboo – were introduced. This enabled higher productivity levels leading to improved income for weavers. Under the PPP mode, new looms were provided to them in three separate cluster pockets of Shantipur – namely Babla, Belgoria G.P, and Nabin Pally. These looms not only accorded a renewed sense of ownership and enthusiasm, but were also ergonomically designed towards ease in weaving and reduction in back problems. These measures motivated the weavers to work six days a week.

Consistent efforts to market the products through exhibitions / fairs and buyer-seller meets across cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Indore, Bhopal, Surat and Baroda, ensured better visibility of their wares. Such interactions also enriched the weavers with direct market and consumer intelligence.

Simultaneously, intense market linkages with some of the most established store chains in the country raised the benchmark of product perceptions with consumers while creating a continuous cycle of demand and supply. Pantaloons, Westside, Fabindia, Handloom House, Handloom & Handicraft Export Corporation (HHEC), Reliance Retail, Ranjana Fabrics (Pune), and SPARSH (Kolkata), are some of the names that have supported this turnaround story.

Healthier livelihoods lead to happier families. Better profits through multiple efforts5.JPG enabled weavers to improve their lifestyles, and to bear the cost of education for their children in progressive areas such as engineering. Many, who could barely provide for their schooling in earlier times, are today engaging more than one private tutor for them. Additionally, there is an overall increased sensitivity and awareness towards health care, child rearing, nutrition, education, housing, water supply and sanitation. There is also an enhanced role in decision-making within the household and community, truly empowering the weaver. Some consortium members have even been able to purchase their own land with the incresed profits accrued to them. The Shantipur study was selected as a role model for sustainable competitive development at the ‘World Textiles Conference’ in France.

Individual story of one beneficiary

6.JPGRatan Biswas belongs to the Annapurna SHG, a member of Shantipur Lifeline Handloom Weavers Welfare SHG Society. Previously, Biswas wove only Matha saris on handlooms provided by the Mahajan for whom he worked. With a daily wage of Rs. 60 he was hardly able to make ends meet. Things started changing gradually for him after he joined the cluster development programme in Shantipur. He got the opportunity for undergoing training on jacquard weaving, and for using alternative fabrics like silk, wool and linen. As a member of the consortium, he participated in various exhibitions and fairs, and was able to increase his monthly income to Rs. 18,000 – 20,000. His lifestyle improved, as indicated by the fact that he was able to renovate his house, install an electricity connection therein, and pay the fees for his brother’s education at an Engineering college.

Courtesy: Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India

 

अगस्‍त क्रांति- शिष्‍ट आचरण पर एक सूक्ष्‍म दृष्टि

i20178401*डॉ. जॉन चेल्‍लादुरै

8 अगस्‍त, 1942 को पारित ‘भारत छोड़ो’ संकल्‍प से भारत के स्‍वतंत्रता संग्राम में एक निर्णायक मोड़ की शुरुआत हुई। गांधी जी को लगा कि सत्‍य और अहिंसा के आदर्श की अग्निपरीक्षा की घड़ी आ गयी है. विश्‍व युद्ध का दौर था। भारत पर कठोर साम्राज्‍यवादी शासन की तानाशाही जारी थी। धुरी राष्‍ट्रों से हमारी मातृभूमि पर हमले की धमकियां मिल रही थीं। ऐसे माहौल में स्‍वतंत्रता सेनानी एक ऐसी मानवीय रणनीति बनाने में लगे थे जिसमें हत्‍याओं, विनाश और विश्‍वासघात की कोई जगह न हो, ताकि पुरानी सभी गलतियों को सही किया जा सके। उन्‍होंने अपनी इस मुहिम में जीत हासिल कर न सिर्फ अपने आप को सही साबित किया बल्कि मानवता को सभ्‍यता का एक अनोखा पाठ भी सिखाया।

धुरी राष्‍ट्रों की सेनाएं पूर्वी एशिया के रण-क्षेत्रों में ब्रिटेन और मित्र राष्‍ट्रों को धूल चटाकर भारतीय सीमा के काफी करीब पहुंच चुकी थीं। इस बात की जबरदस्‍त आशंका बन गयी थी कि जापान किसी भी वक्‍त भारत पर हमला कर सकता है। भारतीय सीमाओं को लेकर धुरी राष्‍ट्रों की दिलचस्‍पी बुनियादी तौर पर यहां ब्रिटेन की मौजूदगी की वजह से पैदा हुई थी। अगर यहां ब्रिटेन न होता तो ऐसा माना जाता है कि धुरी राष्‍ट्रों की भारत को लेकर शायद ही कोई दिलचस्‍पी होती।

1942 के प्रारंभ में सर स्‍टैफर्ड क्रिप्‍स के नेतृत्‍व में आए मिशन ने भारत को जो दिया उसे गांधी जी पहले ही दिवालियेपन की ओर जा रहे बैंक द्वारा जारी मियाद-खत्‍म चैक करार दे चुके थे। क्रिप्‍स मिशन का एकमात्र मकसद भारत को ब्रिटिश सेना, खास तौर पर उसके सैनिकों को हर तरह के साजो-सामान मुहैया कराने को राजी कर युद्ध में उसका सहयोग हासिल करना था। इसके बदले में भारत को युद्ध के बाद सह-राज्‍य का दर्जा देने का वादा किया जा रहा था, हालांकि यह वह बहुत ही अस्‍पष्‍ट था और उसकी कोई निश्चित समय-सीमा नहीं बतायी गयी थी। इस बीच मिशन ने घोषणा कर दी कि भारत से संबंधित मामलों पर ब्रिटेन अपना पूरा नियंत्रण बनाए रखेगा। इससे भारतीय नेता अपने आप को ठगा हुआ महसूस कर रहे थे।

इससे तत्‍काल राजनीतिक कार्रवाई की आवश्‍यकता उत्‍पन्‍न हो गयी।मूलत: यह ब्रिटेन की लड़ाई थी जो भारत को लड़ाई का मैदान बना देना चाहता था। यह एक ऐसी मुहिम थी जिसमें उसकी हार हो रही थी और भारत के लोगों को जबरन एक ऐसे युद्ध में झोंका जा रहा था जिसका वही हश्र होना था जो पूर्व में दूसरे युद्धों में ब्रिटेन का हुआ था।आगे ब्रिटेन का साथ देने का मतलब था भारत को एक ऐसे युद्ध में घसीटा जाना जिससे उसका कोई सरोकार नहीं था। ब्रिटेन का साथ देने का एक और मतलब एक ऐसे पक्ष की तरफदारी करना भी था जिसका युद्ध में बेड़ा गर्क होना तय था और जो डूबते-डूबते भारत को भी डुबो सकता था। इतना ही नहीं, युद्ध में ब्रिटेन के साथ एकजुटता और बलिदान का पुरस्‍कार देश में साम्राज्‍यवादी दमन के जारी रहने के रूप में सामने आना भी तय था।

लेकिन यह एक ऐसा निर्णायक वक्‍त था जब हम क्षण भर के लिए भी हाथ पर हाथ धरे बैठे नहीं रह सकते थे। अगर हम ब्रिटेन का साथ नहीं देते और अपने आप को युद्ध से अलग रखते तो भी फासीवादी ताकतों के हाथों ब्रिटेन की हार होने पर भारत के पतन के मूक साक्षी बनते।

ऐसी स्थिति आ गयी थी कि आगे बढ़कर कुछ करना अनिवार्य लगता था। ऐसे में हमारे नेताओं ने राष्‍ट्रीय सम्‍मान की खुद रक्षा करने का रास्‍ता अपनाया। उन्‍होंने निर्णय किया कि राष्‍ट्र की नियति देशवासियों के अपने गुण-दोषों से होगी न कि हताश ब्रिटिश हुकूमत इसका फैसला करेगी।

हमारे नेताओं ने ब्रिटेन से ‘भारत छोड़ो’ का आह्वान किया। यह आह्वान देश की आजादी के लिए नहीं बल्कि उस खतरनाक स्थिति से देश को निजात दिलाने के लिए था जिसमें ब्रिटेन ने उसे झोंक दिया था। उन्‍होंने इस बात का संकल्‍प ले लिया कि वे भारत के चेहरे पर बंधे ब्रिटेन के उस मुखौटे को उखाड़ फैंकेंगे जिस पर फासिस्ट ताकतें हमला करने को आमादा हैं।

राष्‍ट्रीय नेता, खास तौर पर गांधीजी एक नैतिक दुविधा में फंस गये थे। सत्‍याग्रह के सदाचार का तकाजा था कि विरोधी पर संकट की घड़ी में हमला न किया जाए। ऐसा करना सत्‍य के सिद्धांत का उल्‍लंघन करने जैसा था।1942 में ब्रिटेन ने हमारे सामने युद्धोन्‍माद जैसी स्थिति पैदा कर दी थी जिसमें ब्रिटेन का साथ देने का मतलब था हिंसा का साथ देना जिसकी परिणति हमारी अपनी तबाही में हो सकती थी। हमारे सामने सवाल था कि क्‍या युद्ध के मैदान में उतरा जाएॽ अगर हां, तो क्‍यों न अपनी शर्तों पर ही इसे लड़ा जाए।

एक और भी दुविधा थी। क्‍या कोई ऐसी लड़ाई हो सकती है जिसमें भाग लेने वाला एक भी व्‍यक्ति हिंसक न हो? गांधी जी इस विस्‍फोटक स्थिति को भांप गये।वे यह जान गये थे कि अगर वे सामूहिक सत्‍याग्रह का आह्वान करेंगे तो इसका नतीजा व्‍यापक हिंसा के रूप में सामने आ सकता है।

इससे पहले के साल, यानी 1941 में जब बातचीत विफल हो गयी तो गांधी जी ने सत्‍य और अहिंसा के अपने विश्‍वस्‍त हथियारों का सहारा लिया था और घोषणा की कि इस युद्ध को वही लोग लड़ सकते हैं जो अपनी अंतरतम से अहिंसक हों और उन्‍होंने इसे व्‍यक्तिगत सत्‍याग्रह का नाम दिया। उन्‍होंने घोषणा की कि यह सत्‍याग्रह निर्णायक होगा। हजारों स्‍वतंत्रता सेनानियों को जेलों में बंद कर दिया गया,लेकिन उन्‍हें युद्ध में सहयोग के बारे में बातचीत फिर से शुरू करने के बदले ब्रिटिश कैबिनेट की ओर से सद्भाव के तौर पर एक-दो महीनों बाद ही रिहा कर दिया गया।

क्रिप्‍स मिशन के बाद स्थिति इतनी तेजी से बिगड़ रही थी कि गांधी जी ने विदेशी ताकतों के खिलाफ सत्‍याग्रह आंदोलन छेड़ने का ऐलान कर दिया, हालांकि ऐसा करने में कुछ लोगों के सत्‍याग्रह के मार्ग से भटकने की आशंका भी बनी हुई थी। इस तरह गहरी हताशा के माहौल में 8 अगस्‍त, 1942 को बंबई में कांग्रेस के अधिवेशन में ‘भारत छोड़ो’ का उद्घोष हुआ। गोवालिया टैंक मैदान में भारत छोड़ो प्रस्‍ताव पर अपने दृढ़ भाषण में गांधी जी ने इसे ‘करो या मरो’ मुहिम का नाम दिया जिसमें ‘करने’ पर जोर दिया गया।

उस समय भी गांधीजी फासीवादी ताकतों को लेकर अपने दृष्टिकोण के बारे में एकदम स्‍पष्‍ट थे। वे नहीं चाहते थे कि भारत के लोग केवल हताशा और कड़वाहट में जापानी आक्रमणकारियों का स्‍वागत कर अपना अपमान करें। उनके लिए यह एक नैतिक प्रश्‍न था-–आस्‍था का मुद्दा था। चाहे कुछ भी हो जाए, भारत को अपनी अपनी आत्‍मा को नजरअंदाज नहीं करना चाहिए।

कुछ ही दिनों के भीतर गांधीजी ओर करीब एक लाख स्‍वाधीनता सेनानियों को गिरफ्तार कर लिया गया। कहा जाता है कि ‘करो या मरो’ के नारे के साथ गांधी जी ने देशवासियों का आह्वान करते हुए एलान किया कि अगर उन्‍हें जेल में कैद किया गया तो वे अनशन शुरू कर देंगे। इसे सुन कर विनोबा जी, जो स्‍वयं भी जेल में बंद थे, उन्‍होंने भी अनशन शुरू कर दिया। उन्‍होंने अपने साथी बंदियों को बताया कि हनुमान जी रामजी की हर आज्ञा का हमेशा पालन करते हैं। गांधी जी ने एक दूत भेजकर विनोबा जी का अनशन समाप्‍त कराया और उनसे इस बात का वादा भी करवाया कि वे अनशन नहीं करेंगे। इस तरह दृढ़ संकल्‍प से यह संघर्ष और मजबूत हुआ, हालांकि यह पूरी तरह मानवीय भी बना रहा।

भारत के समर्थन में भरपूर विश्‍व जनमत सामने आने लगा। अमेरिकी राष्‍ट्रपति फ्रैंकलिन डी. रूजवेल्‍ट ने चर्चिल पर दबाव डाला कि वह भारत की मांग को स्‍वीकार कर लें। चर्चिल ने इस्‍तीफा देने का अपना तुरुप का पत्‍ता चलते हुए कहा कि वह भारत की मांग स्‍वीकार करने की बजाय त्यागपत्र दे देंगे।

प्‍यारेलाल के शब्‍दों में : पांच साल से भी कम अरसे में अगस्‍त 1942 का विद्रोह का नारा ब्रिटिश सरकार की सरकारी कार्यसूची का हिस्‍सा बन गया और ‘भारत छोड़ो’ के नारे को ‘एशिया छोड़ो’ का नारा बनते ज्‍यादा देर नहीं लगी।’’

इस तरह भारत छोड़ो आंदोलन ने जहां भारत को आजादी दिलाई वहीं दुनिया को एक ऐसा अहिंसक तरीका दिया जिसे अत्‍यंत भयावह स्थितियों में भी अपनाया जा सकता है। उसी तरह की स्थिति जैसी भारत में 1942 में थी।

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*लेखक डॉ. जॉन चेल्‍लादुरै गुजरात विद्यापीठ के विद्यार्थी रहे हैं और महाराष्‍ट्र में जलगांव स्थि‍त गांधी रिसर्च फाउंडेशन के अध्‍यक्ष हैं। इस लेख में व्‍यक्‍त विचार लेखक के अपने निजी विचार हैं।

Hope looms large for the Handloom Sector

K V Venkatasubramanian* i20178402.jpg

A riot of colours, eye-riveting designs, scintillating hues and entrancing interlacing of warps and wefts give these fabrics a distinctive appeal. From the northeast and Kashmir to the southern tip, these fabrics have distinguishing features that impart a unique exotic appeal. Through centuries, handlooms have been associated with excellence in India’s artistry in fabrics and providing a source of livelihood to millions of crafts persons in almost every state.

Despite sweeping changes, the art and craft traditions have been kept alive due to continuous efforts of generations of artists and craftsmen who weaved their dreams and visions into exquisite handloom products and transferred their skills to their progenies.

From ancient times, Indian handloom products have been identified by their impeccable quality.

These include muslin of Chanderi, silk brocades of Varanasi, the tie and dye products of Rajasthan and Orissa, the Chintas of Machhlipatnam, the Himroos of Hyderabad, the Khes of Punjab, the prints of Farrukhabad, the Phenek and Tongam and bottle designs of Assam and Manipur, the Maheshwari sarees of Madhya Pradesh and the Patola sarees of Vadodara.

Furthermore, the skill involved in producing these special handloom products, such as the Kancheepuram and Benaras silks, the Kosa and Moga silk from Chhattisgarh and Assam respectively, or the Jamdhani from Bengal, the Bhagalpur silk, the Chanderi from Madhya Pradesh and the Tussar and Ikat of Orissa, is part of a special cultural capital.

Though lighter, western clothing is preferred today, most of us still do not miss the most intricately woven traditional clothing on special occasions like weddings and festivals.

After Independence, the government introduced many safeguards to preserve the Gandhian legacy of valuing Khadi to protect handloom weavers and the cultural heritage of this industry from encroachment by the powerloom and mill sectors. The Handlooms (Reservation of Articles for Production) Act, 1985, set aside 22 traditional cloth items such as sarees with borders, dhoti, lungi, among others, for exclusive handloom production and put them outside the purview of the powerloom sector. But, when this Act took effect after eight years in 1993, after a protracted litigation by the powerloom sector, the reserved list had only 11 items.

In the late nineties, production suffered due to a combination of factors such as customer’s changing tastes, trade practices, and duty-free imports of Chinese crepe yarn. Weavers became labourers. Slowly, trends changed and traditional crafts persons found it difficult to sustain their livelihood. However, since 2015, the saree has revived people’s interest in handlooms like never before.

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The second biggest source of employment in rural India, next only to agriculture, the handloom sector provides employment to 4.33 million from diverse communities engaged in 2.38 million looms across the country. It contributes nearly 15 percent of the cloth production in the country and also to export earnings. About 95 percent of the world’s handwoven fabric is from India.

Recognising the glorious history of the industry and its relevance to present times, the government is committed to resurgence of hand-woven textiles and also weavers. In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared August 7 as the National Handloom Day to mark the day the Swadeshi Movement was launched in 1905 and dedicated the day to the weavers of the country, making good on his poll promise of the 5Fs: farm to fibre, fibre to fabric, fabric to fashion and fashion to foreign.

The prime minister also launched the “India Handloom” Brand (IHB) the same day, to endorse the quality of the products in terms of raw material, processing, weaving and other parameters besides social and environmental compliances for earning customers’ trust.

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The IHB soon made its presence on social media to connect with customers, especially youth, to promote high quality handloom products and help build customer awareness and carve a distinct identity for it.

Since assuming charge of the textiles ministry in July 2016, Union Minister Smriti Irani has led by example with her “I Wear Handloom” campaign on social media started last August.

The government has also initiated several steps to revive handlooms. It has laid stress on increasing weavers’ earnings, which would in turn attract the younger generation to this profession. These include: Organising weavers in clusters and providing basic infrastructure by setting up Common Facility Centres.

To boost handlooms, the textiles minister recently brought together leading designers in a unique public-private partnership. More than a dozen of them were assigned handloom clusters for product development and training weavers to upgrade their skills.

The other measures include—encouraging weavers to sell products through e-commerce; promoting educated youth from weavers’ families as weaver entrepreneurs, who will get market information, produce and market cloth directly; linking handloom with fashion and tourism, to expand the market and increase earnings; and involving the private sector in design development and marketing.

The textiles ministry is making concerted efforts to pitch India as a global sourcing centre for all fabric, making handloom India’s niche contribution to the international fashion industry.

Efforts are on to upgrade hand weaving technology in terms of weavers’ comfort, productivity and quality. To ensure continuity of the hand weaving heritage, nine Indian Institutes of Handloom Technology located across India impart specialised training in handloom weaving to the Gen Next.

Responding to the changing consumer demand in the modern world, handloom weaving in India is evolving each day. Several characteristic innovations like heavy casement, recycled rugs and jacquard woven fabrics in thick cotton and silk fabrics are a popular choice today. Hand weavers offer a vast range of decorative and furnishing fabrics for homes in cotton and silk. More than 50 percent of hand-woven exports comprise home textile products. Celebrities and designers continue to make fashion statements around Indian handlooms, globally.

The decentralised nature of handloom production and its non-polluting effect on environment make it a preferred sector in the future. With a low capital-output ratio, this sector’s strength lies in its uniqueness, a wealth of tradition, flexibility of small production, openness to innovation and adaptability to suppliers’ needs.

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*Author is an independent journalist and columnist, with four decades of experience in all media streams–print, online, radio and television.

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