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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.

  • 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

Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

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representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)