Khadi, handloom sectors looking up

Mass appeal: Khadi clothes are gaining popularity in Kerala. A file photo from Thiruvananthapuram.

Mass appeal: Khadi clothes are gaining popularity in Kerala. A file photo from Thiruvananthapuram.  

As the State celebrates Republic Day on Tuesday, khadi, symbol of the nation’s emancipation, and handlooms and other traditional industries are looking up. The efforts of the Industries Department to support and develop these industries seem to have paid off.

The attempts to revive the khadi and handloom industries have achieved the desired results mainly on account of a modernisation drive initiated by the government. A thorough revamping and revival package have put back on rails both industries, which were in the throes of crisis.

The drive began with the government making a call to Keralites to wear khadi and handloom clothes at least once a week. This call had the desired results and different sections of the society, including students and government employees, volunteered to wear such clothes.

The wages of khadi and handloom workers have been revised. The government contributed Rs.1 crore to the Khadi Workers Welfare Fund. After clearing the rebate arrears, a revival grant of Rs.75 crore was given to various institutions involved in khadi production and Rs.70 lakh each to the cooperative societies.

As many as 1,100 industrial units were set up with an investment of Rs.75 crore and a margin money grant of Rs.18.77 crore. Thus, employment opportunities were provided to 31,173 people in this sector. Infrastructure was developed at a cost of Rs.1 crore. This paved the way for improving the quality of the products.

The 712 registered khadi units, 320 cooperative societies and 9,180 individual units are now annually producing goods estimated at Rs.128.2 crore. This is being marketed at Rs.143.66 crore. Such support has helped the industry come out of the crisis and acquire the latest designs and techniques so that it can compete with the branded products flooding the market.

A similar attempt was made for the modernisation of the handloom industry too. Conscious moves were made for changing the attitude of the handloom workers and also thrust was laid on developing infrastructure. Considering the fact that the practices in the industry have become obsolete, the first step was to link it with the fashion industry. Balaramapuram in the capital and Kannur are the main handloom production centres. A centre of the National Institute of Fashion Technology was set up in Kannur at a cost of nearly Rs.70 crore. Similarly, steps were taken for diversification.

An intensive training programme was launched for handloom workers and that has helped them in value-addition and bringing out products that cater to the changing trends and fashions. Al these steps are expected to give a fresh lease of life to the industries that were on the verge of extinction.

N.J. Nair

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