Prasanna, renowned theatre activist and founder of Charaka, the women’s co-operative society, and B. Syama Sundari, the writer associated with Dastkar Andhra, have questioned the Union Textile Ministry’s reported move to change the definition of handloom sector.

In an open letter to K. Sambashiva Rao, Union Minister for Textiles, Mr. Prasanna and Dr. Syama Sundari have appealed to him not to tamper with the handloom tradition.

They said the Ministry wanted to examine the feasibility of mechanising any two out of the three basic motions of shedding, picking and beating. “By removing these motions from the purview of the weaver and hand them over to machine, the Ministry will be basically converting handloom in to power loom,” they observed.

Though the proposal initiated is said to be aimed at reducing the drudgery of the handloom weavers, the two activists have contended that “hand-driven processes are not drudgery” even though the workers are “pitiably underpaid.”

Weavers’ opposition

Weaver representatives from across the country who attended a meeting in Bangalore have opposed the idea. “We feel this proposal, if implemented, will effectively bring handloom weaving in the country to an end and the power loom sector, which is already the most powerful textile sector, shall become a near monopoly sector,” they observed.

They said handloom could not be standardised or homogenised.

“Variety and versatility are its strength. Each area in the country has its own variety of handlooms. It is part of our cultural heritage. We have literally dozens and dozens of loom models, each suited to the eco system of the region in which they exist,” they said.

They noted that the sub-committee formed by the Ministry to go into the details of this proposal does not have a representative of weavers, but has a representative of a power loom body. “We request you to drop the idea. Do strengthen this sector in a way befitting an industry providing skilled employment in the rural sector,” they added.

  • Union Textile Ministry accused of changing the definition of handloom sector

  • Prasanna and B. Syama Sundari write an open letter to

    Union Minister