- BB Paul, Director (North Zone),
Weavers´ Service Centre, Delhi,
Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.
Handloom weaving is largely decentralised and the weavers are mainly from the vulnerable and weaker sections of the society, who weave for their household needs and also contribute to the production in the textile sector, feels the author.
The handloom sector is one of the largest unorganised economic sectors after agriculture and constitutes an integral part of the rural and semi-rural livelihood. The sector has an advantage of being less capital intensive, minimal use of power, eco-friendly, flexibility of small production, openness to innovation and adaptability to market requirements. It is a natural productive asset and tradition at cottage level, which has sustained and grown by transfer of skill from one generation to other.
Handloom weaving is largely decentralised and the weavers are mainly from the vulnerable and weaker sections of the society, who weave for their household needs and also contribute to the production in the textile sector. The weavers of this industry, are keeping alive the traditional craft of different states. The level of artistry and intricacy achieved in the handloom fabrics is unparallel and certain weaves/designs are still beyond the scope of modern machines. Handloom sector can meet every need ranging from exquisite fabrics, which take months to weave, to popular items of mass production for daily use.
As per third handloom Census, conducted in 2009-10, more than 43 lakh people are engaged in weaving and allied activities, which was 65.5 lakh as per second census conducted during during 1995-96. Similarly, number of handlooms has also decreased from 38 lakh to 23.77 lakh. The main reason for declining trend of handlooms is low remuneration in the activity. Therefore, a focused approach to convert low-end looms into high end niche products is required, so that weavers get attractive wages.
Another approach may also be taken up vigorously to upgrade the looms and processes with appropriate technology so that production or efficiency may increase, quality of the product improve and ultimately wage of the weaver enhance. These two pronged approach will certainly help in increasing the remuneration of the weaver making the handloom profession more attractive.
There are three stages of processes in production of handloom fabrics, namely,
1. Pre-loom processes like winding, warping, beaming, sizing, drafting, denting, piecing, designing, graph making, design card punching, lacing of cards, harnessing of jacquard/dobby, dyeing of yarn, etc.
2. Loom process is the actual weaving practice on pit loom or frame loom or raised loom. The loom may be throw shuttle of fly shuttle. It may be fitted with jacquard or dobby or even ordinary plain loom with two treadle or multi-treadle and
3. Post-loom processes constitute value addition to the fabric like surface ornamentation through hand block printing, tie-dye of bandhej, embroidery, dyeing and calendaring, etc.
There is enough scope for introduction of appropriate technology in each of the above three stages of production in handloom sector. However, utmost care has to be taken in choosing the technology. Since handloom weaving is a manual process, no extra work load which will create quick fatigue resulting negative result, is acceptable to the weaver. Rather, in all interventions, drudgery has to be reduced with better quality of products and higher productivity. It should be user-friendly and ergonomic.
Over and above, the new technology must not be detrimental to the USP of the product and should not re