Date(s) - 20/12/2017
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Crisis for Handloom Weavers: Reduction of Budget, Non-implementation of Policies, Suicides and the burden of GST.
Date: 20th (Wednesday) December, 2017.
Time: 3:00 PM- 6:00PM
Venue: Deputy Chairman Hall (2nd Floor),
Constitution Club, New Delhi-110001
Currently, one of the biggest issues the handloom weavers are facing is that despite the government’s policy which promises to provide them with good quality raw materials to work with, like Zari, silk, cotton and other types of yarn, they have reduced the quantity of the same. This has negatively affected the quality of products that can be produced and has also lowered the quantity of the goods they can produce, which affects their income.
The Ministry of textiles is responsible for both the handloom and the power loom sectors. However, there has been a steady decrease in the funding of the handloom sector even though there has been an overall increase in the funding of the Ministry. The Ministry is steadfastly pumping all its finances into the power loom sector, this clearly shows that the Ministry is uninterested in the uplifting of the weavers but rather the profit that the power looms can generate. Keeping in line with the other policies that have been made by the government, this reduction in the budget is a proof of the fact that the current government in power has little to no interest in social and economic development of the marginalised and economically disadvantaged communities.
The result of this motivated decrease in the budget has resulted in a huge deficit of income for the weaving communities. Weavers are committing suicide due to bad loans and their overall development has taken a major hit. What has further aggravated the situation is that power looms are producing the reserved articles of the handloom weavers, producing them at a lower cost and then flooding the market with these goods under the pretext that the products are actually handloom.
The Handlooms are an important sector in our country, the sector is not limited to the buying or selling of clothes/handicrafts/articles made by hand but it is also about the transaction of art and history amongst those who make it and those who buy it. The weavers and the workers who engage in this craft are traditionally skilled and have been doing the same work for generations, it is a matter of culture and pride for them. However, lately it has become solely a means for survival due to the apathy of the government in preserving these traditions and these communities. With a reduced budget and a cut in the raw materials they get, weavers are unable to earn enough to support their families. They are forced to take loans from local money lenders where the rate of interest is extremely high. When they are unable to pay the debt, they are mistreated by the lenders and are often forced to sell their possessions. It has gone further than just that as more and more weavers are pushed to suicide due to the lack of facilities and agencies for redressal of their problems.
Furthermore, in accordance with the recent economic policies, GST is being levied at every level of production as well as on the final product. Thisdrastically increases the cost of production for the weavers and reduces their incomes and minimal profits. The matter of GST then becomes important to discuss.
In relation to the above, Rashtriya Chenetha Jana Samakhya is organising a Roundtable Conference on the 20th (Wednesday) of December where Parliamentarians and members of the civil society will be coming together to discuss the ongoing crisis of the handloom sector. A list of grievances and proposed interventions will also be presented to the political representatives, the goal is to represent the cause of the weavers in the upcoming parliamentary sessions. This Roundtable Conference will be a productive step in preserving the livelihoods of the weaving communities.