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Secret government proceedings at the best of Power Mill lobbies are apparently acting to have the Handloom Reservation act set aside, ruining the lives of lakhs of handloom workers nationwide.

It is no secret that Mills have long hated the Handloom(Reservation of Articles for Production) Act of 1985. The act basically lists traditional textile items as reserved to be produced on handlooms alone (handlooms are defined as anything not a power loom). It appears that now the mills will succeed in getting rid of this Act, unless citizens intervene. The mandatory pro-lobby opinion forming article in MSM has quietly appeared, but there is little noise over it. Notice how it is a piece that argues against the Act out of the blue - absolutely nothing in the news to provoke a reassessment of the Act. Usually an indicator that there is something in the background that is coming up that the piece is preparing the readers for (or rather, setting up opinion).

The argument basically says that since the power looms are already violating the Handloom Reservation Act, it should be scrapped. It is an interesting argument that can probably be applied to the entire IPC.

Here's what's going on.

Quote from an email appeal for help by Marchalla Mohan Rao, President of the Handloom Weavers' Association of undivided Andhra Pradesh.

The Government of India is going to remove Hand Loom Reservation Act, which is giving some extent protection to the hand loom sector till now. Textile Department already Constitute a committee on this issue to analysis the implementation of reservation act and  possibilities of removable items of varieties of hand looms or to totally remove this act by putting in the Parliament for amendment. Committee meeting held  on 20th March,2015 in this regard in D C H Office Delhi, nobody telling about this issue, what is going on reservation act, they are maintaning the secrecy in the department.

In this context, we are all seeking  for your suggestions, how we can overcome from  this problem to protect the hand looms in india. In which way we can brought this issue before the government as well as civil society for their involvement for hand loom weavers movement.

So, please send your opinions and suggestions to over come from this problem and to protect the lakhs of hand loom weavers lively hood.

You can read more about the realities of weavers in Andhra.

Shyamsundari of Dastkar Andhra is more direct.

We had a two day deliberation in Delhi in the month of March regarding the importance of the Reservation Act in securing the interests of the handloom sector. I spoke to the Enforcement chief personally and to the two deputy directors. They agreed to come but failed to show up. The Secretary was given a direct invitation by one of the members of the Federation of Handloom organisations. Same was the case with the DCH. But there was no representation from the Handloom Department. And within a couple of weeks we hear from the enforcement officials(unofficially) that a move is on to repeal the Act. There seems to be a strong powerloom lobby behind the move and the Secretary Textiles seems to be playing an active role in the whole thing.

Livelihoods of weavers are already an issue. Third National Census of Handloom Units and Allied Activity Workers (2010) for Development Commissioner (Handlooms), ministry of textiles by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (India's oldest and independent think tank) tells us something about who these weavers are.

  • 87% of total household units (27.83 lakh) are located in rural areas.
  • Nearly 47% of handloom worker households are BPL and rest are non-BPL.
  • 29 lakh weavers constitute 76% of the adult workforce.
  • 9.38 lakh allied workers are 24% of the adult workforce.
  • Almost 67% weavers are engaged full time in weaving.
  • Almost 75% of handloom workers are women.
  • 60% of adult handloom workers have little or no schooling.

We are talking of some of the most vulnerable rural populations here. People who have no alternative employment. Three-fourth of them being women means that their loss of occupation and income is going to have a direct adverse influence on their children as well - a large part of income of women goes directly to the well being of their children. Lack of schooling means that the potential for already scarce jobs gets even lower. The one skill they do have will be rendered obsolete by mechanical alternatives that produce cheaper but employ far fewer people in a country where power is scarce and labour abundant.

The government's sabotage of rural employment schemes is only going to make this difficult. For a reference, textile mill workers rendered obsolete in 1993, are getting Rs 3000/- per month under Textiles Workers Rehabilitation Fund. They are not able to survive on these funds. Alternative employment for them itself is a problem without adding handloom workers to the mix. 15 lakh handloom households (53%) undertake handloom work exclusively for commercial purposes, while 4.38 lakh households (16%) produce for both domestic as well as commercial purposes.

Woman weaver at handloom from Walahjapet, Tamil Nadu
Woman weaver at her loom from Walahjapet, Tamil Nadu. Photo: Sweta Daga Source: ruralindiaonline.org

 

It is true that Mills already illegally produce and sell items reserved to be produced on handlooms. However, the law does protect the handloom workers, as action can be taken against the illegally produced goods. Also the illegally produced goods cannot undercut the prices of handloom produced goods. Without this protection, the market will be flooded with cheap textiles that the creators of handloom products cannot compete with. Yet, the soul of the traditional items will be altered forever.

"At present Crores of people are waiting for their jobs, every year more than 60,00,000 graduates/ post graduates/ technologists are coming out from the universities/ institutions. Why the government is not providing the employment to these youth, if there is any possibility." Marchala demands to know. "Another one important issue is if we alow the powerlooms in India; China, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Pakistan,Jermany,Korea, Thailand exporters are ready to dump their prodcuts in the Indian domestic market. It has not happened yet, because varieties are reserved for handlooms exclusively."

"Mechanization never creates employment, Our India has plenty of human resources. They should be employed by production activity. It is handlooms in rural India. No other industry except the service sector. Service sector also cannot provide employment regularly." It has been noted before by Ravinder Kumar that India had not added jobs in agriculture or manufacturing since 1995. Where is the rural person to seek employment?

"If we allow the powerlooms to produce the Silk/cotton Sarees and dress Materials, it will ruin the total handloom sector without any doubt. It will to the starvation among the weaving community and some parts of India it will lead to armed struggles, for example Jammu and Kashmir (where the official records require the government to adopt the Handloom Reservation Act or enact something similar, yet has not, resulting in the famed Pashmina being woven on power looms, damaging the livelihoods as well as traditional craft). Over 60% of India's weaver households reside in the North East and earn about Rs 300 per day. What happens of them and what will the impact of their disenfranchisement be on the regional unrest?"

Is this the future of our traditional arts at the hands of the government that appears to have interest in promoting both handlooms and traditions? Are we going to have exquisite silk saris produced by powerlooms that copy traditional designs and starve traditional weavers? What does a Ludhiana Power Looms pashmina shawl even mean?

Handloom sari at Walahjapet, Tamil Nadu
Handloom sari at Walahjapet, Tamil Nadu. Photo: Sweta Daga Source: ruralindiaonline.org

"On 29,80,000 hand looms more than 65,00,000 families of 1,20,00,000 people are depending for their livelihood. All these people will be abandoned by the state if powerlooms replace these creators of exquisite crafts like so much horse power labour mass producing identical designs.

The secrecy around the proceedings is ominous. This government has shown little inclination for accountability. It now depends on us to ask questions that require answers.

[tweetthis]Handlom fabric enthusiasts, please read this![/tweetthis]

Update: The Odisha government has opposed the bid of powerloom operators to get saris removed from the Handloom(Reservation of Articles for Production) Act of 1985.

Ravinder Singh of Sabka Bharat mission takes a look at some recent policy decisions and government actions and describes how it could be much better.

Close on heals scores of deaths for nth time Chhattisgarh due to Infections in Hospitals, Spurious Drugs, Un-sterilized Surgical Instruments, Simple Greed leading to all Vasectomy Operations had not made the state government vigilant enough to take preventive action, in the latest case Drug Supplier Simply had no Drug Manufacturing Facility but was getting state government orders on regular basis – it is reported that --.

Indian Railways had preferred to Place ORDER on Private Companies who neither Has Design or Testing or Manufacturing Facility and Experience worth Rs. Thousands of Crores. This perhaps led to Shunting of Railway Minister to lesser important department.

But what is common in both is that Rail Coach Factories are located in Non BJP states Punjab and Tamil Nadu so BJP missing out on GDP growth and profits.

I had for five years wanted GoI to import 20,000 Double Decker Coaches to replace standard Coaches Under Some Long Term Foreign Aid.

Indian Railways have Ready Design of Double Decker Coaches just want ORDERS, and in such situation placing Orders on Private Companies is most unfortunate.

It was Most Unfortunate that Education Minister of India Cut the German Language course taken by 80,000 Kendriya Vidyalayas School Children under Foreign Aid and Forcing them to take Sanskrit instead.

It is alright if some States where Sanskrit is spoken by people it should be recognized as third language after Hindi and English but applying to Kendriya Vidyalayas spread all over India is most stupid.

LPG subsidy distribution through Cash Transfer is MISCHIEF of Sam Pitroda who wanted to introduce Mobile Phones based Cash Transfer system and wanted to engage his Company.

I was procuring Various Gases for a Power Station in 1975 – each Cylinder Had a Number – these days BAR CODE is applicable for sale of most Consumer Goods could have been applied to LPG Cylinder Marketing easily. This is ACCURATE & RELIABLE way to Distribute & Take Back LPG Cylinders. Cash Transfer doesn’t Curb PILFERAGE & DIVERSION Of LPG for Commercial Use.

FCI instead of Silos built Brick Rooms to store Grains in Bags, which is most inefficient and unsafe storing of foods and totally manual in loading and unloading.

Farmers Storing Processing & Marketing of Foods would reduce Wastes and Ensure FRESH grade supply of foods.

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Green peace is an anti-national organization.

Don't believe them when they say they are mostly funded by Indians. Green peace was instrumental in Australia declaring Virat Indian Adani's $7 billion Carmichael coal project in Australia unviable for environmental reasons. Now, you will agree that Australians donate to Greenpeace Australia and not Indians. Thus proved that foreign funded Greenpeace is hindering India's development.

Vandana Shiva is completely anti-national.

She wants to save Indian seeds and resist genetically modified seeds taking over the market. Considering that GM seeds are made by foreign companies,this directly harms India's foreign relations with countrys like Monsanto, Mahyco and Times of India.

People protesting in Kudankulam are anti-national

In fact, thousands of them have cases of sedition against them. They are agents of the church and rose in protest against the Virat Russian project in their backyard, but they forgot that Russians are more Indian than unpronouncable names from Tamil Nadu.

Narmada Bachao Andolan is the worst anti-national.

It is trying to prevent electricity from reaching your home just because a few lakh people became homeless. You didn't become homeless, I didn't become homeless. Do you want to live without electricity just so some people can have homes? They need to see how Virat India can be. We are so totally going to raise the height of Sardar Sarovar just to make sure they understand. There is plenty of water, but more electricity is always needed in an electricity surplus state like Gujarat. Also no one can claim the government is unjust. Madhya Pradesh is a BJP ruled state and their people are getting submerged, so Congressis have no reason to complain.

The true Virat Indian has a heart like a lion

...that doesn't cry just because a few lakh people have a problem. Development is important business. And business is best done by the corporations, and interfering with this business of corporations is interfering with the development of the corporations which means it is anti-national. All Indians are hereby requested to turn highly patriotic and make sure that the corporations suffering from threats of decreased profits do not suffer and bring shame to India. We must sacrifice all we can so that the rich may inherit the earth, because the meek will be gone by then anyway and there is no point wasting.

Foreign funded NGOs that engage in anti-nuclear, anti-coal and anti-GMO protests are anti-national (notice the "anti" they all share in common?)

Fact is, with India's population, we could easily lose half our prople and no one would notice. And you must not notice, because it isn't our purpose to cause you unnecessary trauma. Excessive care with health is detrimental to reducing India's population density, and is directly responsible for inflation, crowds on trains, rising prices of real estate and power cuts. Get rid of half the people and see how comfortable you would be. Now that everyone whines if there are riots, at least leave the coal, nuclear and GMOs alone, to reduce the burden on our country.Frankly, it is worrisome that you have read this far, because you aren't supposed to examine what you are told.

Hope you have now understood everything.

Even if you haven't, don't worry about it.

All you have to do to be a Virat Indian is to listen carefully to who is disagreeing with the government about helping the corporate sector of our country grow and listen to what the problem with them is, and make sure others understand.

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The following post was originally published on dianuke.org The site seems suspended under questionable circumstances. The message is being republished here in solidarity of the struggle and with a view to the time sensitive nature of the appeal for help.

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With the Idinthakarai-based anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) protestors gearing-up for their ultimate agitation to ensure the permanent closure of the ready-to-be-commissioned nuclear power programme within a next few days, Collector R. Selvaraj has extended the prohibitory orders promulgated under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to seven km from the KKNPP site.

The announcement was made last night shortly after 10 p.m. that enabled the officials to implement the orders from the existing 2-km radius from KKNPP site to 7 km. It will be in force till 6 p.m. June 7. After the district administration received intelligence reports that a few thousands of protestors, mostly from coastal hamlets, might block the roads leading to the KKNPP site and lay siege to the nuclear power project site, the existing prohibitory orders was extended up to 7 km under which Idinthakarai, the protest hub, also falls.

Additional reinforcements are being rushed to Kudankulam and its surroundings. Armed Reserve Police, 100 personnel from Tamil Nadu Commando Force and 100 personnel from Tamil Nadu Special Task Force had been deployed till Wednesday evening.

[satellite]

The following post was originally published on dianuke.org The site seems suspended under questionable circumstances. The message is being republished here in solidarity of the struggle and with a view to the time sensitive nature of the appeal for help.

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Urgent Message from Idinthakarai
Arrest Alert
May 9, 2012

Curfew orders have just been promulgated in our area once again right after our planning meetings with the youth, women, community elders and the Idinthakarai village committee on May 8, 2012. Thousands of police personnel are being posted in and around Koodankulam in haste. We get reliable tips that the authorities are planning to clamp down our protest and arrest all of us, possibly tonight. Such a pre-dawn operation that the government usually does could be bloody as thousands of men, women and children from several villages are sleeping around the Church at Idinthakarai.

This action may be planned to cover up a recent accident at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP). It is said that two young men, Sivakumar and Esakkimuthu, were injured on May 4 in an alleged blast at KKNPP and they were admitted in a private hospital at Anjugramam. Dr. Tamilarasu who treated the men confirmed the accident according to a newspaper report (The Indian Express, May 8, 2012). One of the young men’s fathers talked to the Puthiya Thalaimurai television on May 8, 2012 that he was not even allowed to see his son.

On May 8, 2012, we also held a Press Meet at Idinthakarai at 4:00 PM in which we produced the ledgers with tens of thousands of signatures of people from some 60 villages opposing the KKNPP. This is a clear proof that the central and state governments are acting against the will of the local people and are thrusting the dangerous nuclear power project down our throats in an authoritarian and arrogant manner. We also produced some 24,000 voter ID cards that the people had surrendered in protest against the governments’ callous attitude towards the 302 women and 35 men indefinite hunger strikers. As the Indian government and the state governments do not respect ordinary people’s lives and interests in India, we also launched the “Respect India” Campaign along the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s “Quit India” campaign of 1942.

The Tamil Nadu police have been harassing local people when they close their shops in support of our protests or when they travel to neighboring villages. The police take individual pot shots of the people, shoot group photos, take down the vehicle numbers, abuse with foul language and intimidate them. When a curfew was imposed earlier on our area by the Tamil Nadu government on March 19, 2012, the authorities divided the local communities by announcing a Rs. 500 crore bribery package to the local bodies, stifled news reports on us by silencing the media and isolated the people by distancing the Church.

It is so strange and unfortunate that the central and state governments treat us, nonviolent and democratic Gandhian activists, as some kind of dangerous extremists. The hunger strikers are very weak and feeble but they refuse to give up without getting our demands fulfilled. Instead of talking to us, the Tamil Nadu government seems to be preparing for a highhanded behavior and violence to put us all down.

Please contact the following officers and demand justice for our people:
[1] Dr. R. Selvaraj, District Collector, Tirunelveli District, Tirunelveli. Phone: 91-462-2500828; Fax: 91-462-2500224; Mobile: 91-9444185000; Email:collrtnv@nic.in
[2] Mr. V. Varadharaju; Phone: 91-462-2568031; Mobile: 91-9840970530; Email: digtinrg@yahoo.co.in
[3] Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Fort St. George, Chennai 600 009, India; Phones: 91-44-25672345 (W); 91-44-25670215 (H); Faxes: 91-44-28133510; 25676929; 25671441; 28130787.
[4] Mr. Debendranath Sarangi, Chief Secretary; Phone: 91-44-25671555; Fax: 91-44-25672304; Email: cs@tn.gov.in
[5] Dr. Sheela Priya, Additional Chief Secretary; Phone: 91-44-25674234; Fax: 91-44-25675163. Email: cmcell@tn.gov.in

The Struggle Committee,
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy