The government is all about uplifting the Handloom sector, empowering weavers, NGOs driving towards supporting the weaving sector.
Ever wonder what are the problems they REALLY face? Why do these activities emerge in the first place?
The visit to Siripuram was a single line among the paragraph that is the answer to the above questions.
The visit on the 1st of December, 2015 was meant as a workshop to drive the purpose of Indian Handloom Brand towards the weavers to retain the quality in the handloom products they create. Weaver’s service center (the governmental organization that works for weavers) has listed some clusters from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state to be registered with the Indian Handloom Brand one of which is Siripuram.
The day ensued with the introduction of the Indian Handloom Brand which was compared to be the new equivalent in the Textile industry to the ISI mark in the electrical industry. It continues to be introduced as such. It is different from the Handloom mark in a very singular way- Assured Quality. Indian handloom mark stands for quality whereas the Handloom mark stands for a Handloom product- Good or Bad.
Dr. Sharmila Nagraj Nandula brought her design expertise into the discussion- talking about how the international market appreciates geometrics and subdued shades and therefore Siripuram was an ideal choice for the brand.
She then went on to speak of a weaver who under the false impression of buying a cotton cone bought cotton polyester mix cones which led to the rejection of his production leading him to great losses.
The reason for this particular weaver’s mistake in buying those cones remain unknown, as does the fact that he was buying it under a false impression or is said to claim as such to gain sympathy over selling off his wares to avoid debts and losses. Yet on some surmise, Mr. Prithwiraj Mal, assistant professor of textile chemistry at NIFT, Hyderabad, affirms that the aggrieved weaver must’ve bought the cotton-polyester mix cone that comes under the name ‘Cotton Rich.’
Ambiguous Cone names
The scenario is a simple one- Yarn mills that produce cotton blends have a standard name (cotton rich) for blended yarns that contain 50% or more cotton in the yarn. These blends are supposedly rich in cotton than the blends with a lower cotton percentage and therefore the ambiguous name has occurred. Buyers unaware of this fact will come to general conclusions of believing this to be the superior quality cotton than the 100% cotton yarn out there.
No wonder the weaver has come to depend on the raw material dealers out there to give the best of products assuming the dealers are honest and ethical.
Therefore, awareness in Raw material management and information about mill cones and names is crucial.
Raw materials for Siripuram arrives from the governmental organization known as NHDC which according to the weavers that attended this workshop, wasn’t as the weavers expected- in supply and in quality management.
They didn’t want to dampen all hopes together and therefore did mention that superior quality yarns were known to them and that they were the need of the hour.
As if these complications aren’t enough, there’s the Hank vs. Cone debate.
Hank vs. Cone Debate
If you haven’t heard of it (they’re quite famous among the weaver circles) then it goes like this.
Post Independence, there was the decentralization of all the states which led to each state being credited to its own craft and to give a head start to the weavers, the government lent out an extra hand and gave a subsidy to the weavers on the hanks of yarns they bought.
Great idea. Only not such a great one anymore.
With so many conveniences available, reeling hanks by the same technology that has been used during the Independence time seems like a pointless activity in the present time. Especially when the pay is so less that the labour that works in reeling and sorting hanks would rather drive an Auto Rickshaw or work at an odd construction job that fetches him or her more pay. That is the common weaving profession substitute you hear from the remaining few weaver families who are adamant and are going strong.
The debate thus opens up the study about the cost viability of Hank vs. Cone manufacturing.
All that said, the weavers in the Indian handloom workshop in Siripuram asked for a solution for this problem, asked for subsidy in cones- but that isn’t possible lest the Power loom sector benefit from what was meant to benefit the Handloom sector only.
The Different one
However, not all weaver stories are downtrodden and sad. One of the weavers, who drives his 2010 Verna model to the workshop- states that he has no say for the debate, all he wants is Good Quality Raw materials and a good market availability – stating the two very aptly because of the presence of the NHDC representative and the Weaver’s service center officer respectively who were a part of the panel.
End of the workshop
The Workshop closes with lots of pictures and a token of appreciation from the Siripuram co-operative society in the form of a lovely Blue Ikat Bed sheet to the panel.
The very same bed sheet I happen to be writing this article on.
The co-operative center was stacked with some of the most chic Ikats one can ever see- Playing with simple Geometrics and colour combinations in subdued shades of cool colours, blues, pinks, reds, greys, yellows, etc,.
So the product is great.
Yet weavers face problems in this globalized era.
So what can a customer who if not empathizes, wants to empathize, do to solve these problems?
Substitute. Substitute at least 25% of your wardrobe and home furnishings with Handloom.
They only get better with more washes.