The state of Karnataka’s handloom industry

3 years on, demonetisation continues to haunt weavers

Hanumanthappa Palemari displaying a long panna blouse material that is used for saris, at Guledgudda in Bagalkot district.  

A good three years after demonetisation, the traditional weavers of Ilkal are yet to recover from its aftershock. They say that even now, business is down by about 40%.

“Though we have recovered from the initial impact of demonetisation, the market is yet to pick up,” says Vijaykumar Guled of the 147-year-old P.K. Guled Sarees, the oldest surviving master weavers in Ilkal, trading in handloom products. They are trying to reach out to global buyers through Internet marketing, in the hope of balancing this loss.

Another master weaver, Nagaraj Seetharam Sarode of the 106-year-old S.P. Sarode Saree House says: “Business is down by nearly 40% even after more than three years.” According to him, business came down post demonetisation as visitors to the weaving town drastically reduced. “A large number of people from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and surrounding regions of Ilkal would come here to buy granite. Given the fame of Ilkal saris, they would also come into the town looking for our produce,” he said, adding that crackdown on quarrying has further affected their business.

The market for Ilkal saris has also remained restricted to its traditional base of Maharashtra and a few big cities in India, despite receiving the Geographical Indication tag. While a few like Mr. Guled market the saris online and continue to send products to big cities, master weavers like Mr. Sarode have stopped sending saris to showrooms in big cities that work on credit system.

“Our margins are so low, we cannot sustain by giving credit and with high raw material cost, we need cash flow too. I have stopped sending my products to big centres,” said Mr. Sarode.

Weavers like Shamanna Bandi, Hussein Sab Annapur, and Mahadevappa Mallappa Kvatakundi, who are all dependent on master weavers for sustenance, echoed similar feelings. “Many powerlooms also, unable to pay salaries or procure raw materials, closed after demonetisation. There is no guarantee that they will start again,” Mr. Bandi said.

Officials in the Department of Handlooms and Textiles acknowledged that demonetisation has had its effect on the handloom sector. “However, business has not been affected for cooperative societies and the weavers associated with it,” said an official.

(This is the fourth in a series on the handloom sector in Karnataka.)

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 5:45:36 PM |

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