Aim is to help poor artisans: Dayanidhi Maran

The Union Ministry of Handlooms and Textiles will soon open a marketing centre for handicrafts in Chennai where traditional artisans can showcase their products.

A similar centre has been functioning in New Delhi and Chennai will be the second to have it in the country, said Union Minister of Handlooms and Textiles Dayanidhi Maran, who is also in-charge of handicrafts, here on Saturday.

Inaugurating a conference-cum-exhibition on traditional industries on behalf of the Federation of Indian Chambers and Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here, Mr. Maran said the aim of opening the centre was to enable poor artisans, especially those in rural areas, market their products without middlemen.

Referring to difficulties being faced by handloom weavers owing to increase in price of yarn, the Minister said the Centre was taking steps to bring down the price.

He warned of serious action against those who were hoarding and making huge profits by exploiting the situation.

Assuring the handloom weavers that there was a good market for handloom products, the Minister said there had been a consistent increase in sales. The sale of handloom cloth, which was to the tune of Rs.180 crore in 2007 had increased to Rs.340 crore. He asked the weavers to modify their traditional varieties by adopting innovative and trendy designs to attract young customers. For the benefit of the weavers, the Ministry had developed new designs in coordination with the National Institute of Fashion Design and posted them on the website. He wanted the weavers to make use of the designs.

R. Rajagopal, Principal Secretary, Handlooms, Handicrafts, Textiles, and Khadi, said both handloom and handicraft had a good export market in countries where there was a substantial Indian population, especially Tamilians. They were proud of their tradition and culture and wore handloom silk saris during get-togethers.

Beela Rajesh, Executive Director, Handloom Export Promotion Council, said the next generation of handloom weavers was not ready to take up the profession, as returns were not substantial. Moreover, they were reeling under heavy yarn prices and poor demand. Ms. Rajesh suggested a ‘swadeshi-type movement' to popularise handlooms.

H.E. Abdul Azeez, convenor, traditional industries, State council of FICCI, said the country's growth could not depend solely on sunrise industries such as information technology and telecom. There was an urgent need for giving importance to traditional industries such as handlooms and handicrafts, which had been providing job opportunities to the rural population.