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India Needs To Return to The Handloom Bandwagon: Here is Why!

The British had ruined the cottage industries of India, and they remained dead even after the invaders had left the country

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Handloom Industry. Image source: www.power2sme.com
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  • India has always boasted of a rich heritage of producing handloom apparels
  • During the rule of monarchs, like the Mughals, these weavers and artisans were greatly rewarded for their genius and artistry
  • With the advent of British, this changed and the cottage industries received a huge blow

India has been the treasure trove of raw materials for as long as history can remember. The rich and fertile lands of India were the primary producers of all kinds of spices and the people were expert in the art of agriculture. Not only that, they could produce magnificent paintings with natural colors which they extracted from the flowers, fruits and even spices. Different parts of India were known for their own distinct culture and art. Though dissimilar according to their place of origin, they had certain noticeable similarities as well.

Dhaka was famous for its muslin, Orissa for Ikat, West Bengal for Baluchuri, Madhya Pradesh for Chanderi and Maheshwari , Andhra Pradesh for Pomchampally and Bihar for tussar silk. The exceptional prowess of India in this particular field drew many foreign invaders to India.

A silk loom in Varanasi, India. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
A silk loom in Varanasi, India. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

When the British invaded India and set up colonies, they bought all the raw materials they could from India and sent it to Britain. The Indian market was flooded with cheap British goods, in exchange. The Drainage of Wealth began and indigenous Indian cottage industries faced a terrible downfall.

The artisans and workers were not appreciated like the olden days any more. Instead they were tortured and they had to produce whatever the foreign government asked them to. A deplorable state of the economy of India was inevitable.

Even after the British left India and India became independent, we were not entirely been able to get over the Company Raj. Industrial revolution, which was brought into India by the British, adversely affected the cottage industries of India. Mass produced industrial goods were far cheaper than hand-loom products thus people would always buy them. The living conditions of the talented weavers and artists of India is continuing to deteriorate.

A weaver making a saree in Bishnupur, West Bengal. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
A weaver making a saree in Bishnupur, West Bengal. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

However, today, numerous foreign countries, including that of Europe, appreciate the beauty of handmade garments and therefore the demand for them in the market is gradually increasing. The Ministry of Textiles of the Indian Government has taken a novel initiative by promoting the Khadi industry under the label of “Indian Handloom Brand” (IHB). 

A weaver in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
A weaver in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

IKEA is also playing an instrumental role in emancipation of Indian cottage industries by joining hands with many of such small Indian companies. So, there is still hope that the indigenous handloom industries of India will be able to reaffirm its position in the world market.

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at newsGram.

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  • codesandcodd

    At last something good is happening … After reading this article I am happy and at peace …

  • codesandcodd

    This is the only way forward

  • Aparna Gupta

    Handloom industry in India plays a very crucial role in providing employment and is a unique identity of India.

  • AJ Krish

    Reviving the Indian Handloom, will not only create many new job opportunities but also create a sense of pride in engaging in an indigenous art.

SHARE
  • codesandcodd

    At last something good is happening … After reading this article I am happy and at peace …

  • codesandcodd

    This is the only way forward

  • Aparna Gupta

    Handloom industry in India plays a very crucial role in providing employment and is a unique identity of India.

  • AJ Krish

    Reviving the Indian Handloom, will not only create many new job opportunities but also create a sense of pride in engaging in an indigenous art.

Next Story

Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

The trial has been ongoing since 2013

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Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India.
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India. VOA

When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.

The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.

“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”

“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.

Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women

and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.

Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.

“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”

But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.

“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.

Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.

Students Combat Human Trafficking
Students Combat Human Trafficking, flickr

‘Unpardonable’

Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.

“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.

“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”

The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.

“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.

India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.

“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.

“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”

Silencing Victims
Silencing Victims, pixabay

The future

Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.

“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”

The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.

Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.

Also read: Imagining Panun Kashmir: Dissent And Detente in South Asia

“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)