Times of India: November, 2016
Mangaluru: The Union textiles ministry is looking to concentrate on new markets and opportunities for local handloom and handicraft sector as many global companies are willing to tie-up with Indian weavers and artisans, Rashmi Verma, Textiles Secretary said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi.
"There is a huge scope for promoting Indian handloom and handicraft products in the niche markets world over," said Rashmi while addressing an ASSOCHAM Luxury Summit. She said that though most of the sectors registered a decline in exports of Indian products to global markets, export of handicrafts continued to grow at the rate of 17%.
"All stakeholders should make efforts to engage with artisans and weavers in the country and hand-hold them not only for ensuring that they get right price and market for their products and also get recognition which they deserve in the world and domestic markets," said the textiles Secretary.
The ministry has signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with 20 e-commerce companies to engage with artisans and weavers in different handloom and handicraft clusters across India and help them market their products directly. "This will go a long way in ensuring that they get the right price for their product as they are able to sell their product directly to the consumer," she said.
The government is taking number of steps for skilling weavers, for giving them design inputs, quality raw material, tools and upgrading their looms to empower them so that they continue to remain engaged in this craft. "We are finding that younger generation is slowly getting disinterested in this sector and are moving towards information technology as the children of the weavers and artisans are not joining this profession," said Rashmi Verma.
The Textiles Ministry has taken an initiative for training children of weavers and artisans to become entrepreneurs so that they can emerge as leaders in producers' groups and market their products through e-commerce and other channels directly. "This is also in one way trying to attract children of weavers and artisans back into this trade," she said.
There are a number of design workshops especially for the weavers and artisans whereby they are informed about current market trends and demand of the market because they have to be sensitised to the needs of the market and only then they will be able to produce what the consumer wants and not try to sell whatever they have made.
The ministry had conducted an analysis and found that many of the weavers and artisans have become workers and labourers in the hands of traders or exporters. "They get paid wages on a daily basis on whatever work they do in one day, so instead of selling their craft and talent, they are now selling their labour, as a result, this has disinterested the young generation," she said.
dearth of working capital, dependence upon middle men for raw material, working capital and even the design are certain factors forcing the weavers and artisans to sell off their talent and craft. "It is very-very important that we all together take steps so that dignity of the weaver and artisan is restored and we empower them to be able to sell their talent and their products and not their labour," she said.
"Sometimes, it is important to have these traders and exporters because they give them the kind of market which these products deserve but it is also important to ensure that these people continue in the tradition of handloom weaving and handicrafts by empowering them by ensuring that they get working capital, are able to get good designs and also have a marketing nexus of their own," she said further.