“Our problem being to form the future, we can only form it on the materials of the past; we must use our heredity, instead of denying it.” - T.S. Eliot
India has a rich tradition of handloom weaving since time immemorial with the earliest evidences going back to the Indus Valley civilization. Earned the title of Heritage craft for it has survived the test of time, battling the industrial revolution worldwide.
The Handloom Sector occupies a distinctive place in our country. It plays a vital role in the country's economy. Second largest only after agriculture, one of the largest economic activities providing direct employment to all weavers and allied workers. Below are few numerical that will give you an idea of the scale of handloom sector in our country.
31.45 lakhs, the total number of households in India engaged in handloom activities (weaving and allied activities). A 1.13% increase in the numbers from last year.
25,45,312, the total number involved in proper weaving activities. Out of which 22.5 lakhs (or 88.7%) weaver households are located in rural areas while 2.8 lakhs (or 11.3%) are in urban areas, with nearly 72% of handloom weavers being female.
Income: Majority (66.3%) of the weaver households earn less than Rs.5,000/- per month. That only helps them support for all essential needs in the family. 'Comfort' is a word of luxury for them.
Areas of operation: Across India, 28.2 lakhs handlooms were reported in the Fourth All-India Handloom Census, out of which 25.2 lakhs were in rural areas and 2.9 were located in urban areas. Handlooms are mostly locted in handloom weaver households (95.6%) which clearly signify that weaving on handlooms is primarily a household based activity.
The largest yarn type used by handloom weavers in India is Cotton, at a 67.2%.
Types of products: Out of all, approximately 22.9% of households are involved in weaving Sarees. 7.97 lakhs of household weave products such as Shawls, Mekhla chadder, Loi, Stole, Scraf and Muffler, which is approximately 26.7% of all. 19.5% weave products such as angavastram, dhoti, sarong and lungi. Products such as towel, napkin, duster, and gamcha are woven by approximately 16.5% of such households. Durries, rugs, and mats are woven by 3.5% of handloom worker households. Dress material (kurtas, salwar, etc.), suiting, shirting, long cloth are woven by 3.2% (or approximately 0.95 lakhs) handloom worker households. All other products are being produced by 7.7% of all handloom worker households.
Level of Education: Out of all Handloom workers, 23.2% never attended School, only 18% have reached Primary, 13% attended High school, even much less 3.6% have actually graduated. Hence we can say education in this sector is lagging far behind as compared to other sectors in our country.
Fortunately, there is an increase in the number of individual involved in this sector thanks to social medias for assisting the sector in gaining popularity among the end consumers, the weavers are now willing to continue the traditions and teach this heritage craft to their youngster as well.
Reference: All India Handloom Census