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Handloom Industry. Image source:
  • 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 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 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 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.



Photo by febri sym on Unsplash

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