A manually operated loom or handloom helps weavers to create the fabric by entwining threads. The handloom industry has created jobs for over 43 lakh weavers, which resonates in the comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme. It aims to ease the collectivization of handloom weavers and its services for procurement. Production, marketing, and accredit the handloom weavers to amplify their products’ competitiveness in the domestic and global market.
The handlooms are not new to India. It has been the backbone of many rural populations for their livelihood and has continued to be so. Since historical times it has been an age-old tradition of making cloth by spinning and weaving and forming a precious part of the generational legacy and epitome of rich heritage, art, and culture of diversity of India. The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was the one who foresaw its tremendous employment potential and a means to mitigate poverty in rural India. He repeatedly emphasized the importance of handloom and had a very passionate view of the role of the handloom industry in India. In one of his letters, Gandhi Ji mentions,” The handloom weaving is in dying condition and handlooms ought not to be allowed to perish.” He says that handloom defines the pulse of India by empowering a vast section of society constituting a rural population.
Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a far-sighted visionary man have realized the importance of the handloom industry and a firm believer in making in India has emphasized the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, by pledging the use of indigenous goods with local material to revive the economy. The government has been announcing various measures for a long time to revive the handloom sector. The declaration of Handloom Day by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has boosted the handloom industry. Handloom, majorly being a rural-based sector, is spread out in small fragments and clusters across India. So the policies must be framed exclusively for such a vibrant and structured sector of the textile industry.
The formulation of a comprehensive handloom cluster development scheme has been made by merging all the major schemes, namely Integrated Handloom Development Schemes (IHDS), Diversified Handloom Development Scheme (DHDS), and Marketing and Export Promotion Scheme (MEPS).
This scheme aims to support weavers and follow the need-based approach, including various self-help groups, NGOs,etc. by providing raw materials, technology upgradation, creating a permanent infrastructure, setting up of weavers service centers (WSC) and Indian Institutes of Handloom Technology (IIHTs), developing web portals for marketing and advertising of handloom products, etc.
The Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme (CHDS) has been launched to target the development of mega handloom clusters in precisely identifiable terrestrial locations incorporating at least 15,000 handlooms with the government of India.
The Indian government is following a practice of promoting and encouraging the handloom sector through various policies and programmes. With the growing competition in the textile industry, a growing need has been felt to adopt a holistic approach in the handloom sector to meet the challenges of a global environment. A comprehensive handloom development scheme is an attempt by the government to facilitate the sustainable development of the handloom industry.
1. Cluster Projects at Block Level:
2. Providing Assistance in Handloom Marketing:
The development and promotion of the marketing channels in the domestic market and the export market is the main objective of handloom marketing assistance. It also aims to bring about the linkage between marketing channels in a holistic and integrated manner.
Following are the components of Handloom Marketing Assistance:
3. Concessional Credit to the Weavers:
The objective of a comprehensive handloom cluster development scheme is to provide credit to handloom weavers at concessional interest rates. The government provides marginal money assistance of Rs.4200 per weaver, 3% of interest subsidy, and credit guarantee through the credit guarantee fund trust for micro and small enterprises (CGTMSE).
Our Hon’ble Union finance minister has announced a loan to the handloom sector at the rate of 6% interest. Financial assistance to individual weavers has been increased from Rs. 7000 to Rs. 35000. Such weavers who belong to above the poverty line can also avail of this assistance if they contribute 25% in the funding requirement, which can be credited directly to the bank account of the weaver to procure the required material of their own choice.
The concessional credit scheme includes:
4. Creating a Handloom Census:
In order to have an updated data on the handloom sector, the comprehensive Handloom Cluster Scheme aims to create a third party handloom census and data validation regarding the number of handloom weavers, number of handlooms, number of handlooms working in commercial and domestic use, etc. and there will be an issuance of Identity cards to the handloom and allied weavers.
5. Setting up Handloom Institutions:
Various steps have been taken to strengthen handloom institutions to produce graduates with better employment and to create skills to serve the handloom sector. A new Indian Institute of Handloom Technology (IIHT) has been set up for conducting diploma courses in handloom and textile technology. The Union textile minister has laid the foundation of an Integrated Textile Office Complex at IIHT, Varanasi. These efforts will contribute to higher productivity and better livelihoods for weavers and enable them to reap the benefits of government schemes.
The implementation of the Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme aims to develop the Mega Handloom Clusters, having at least 15,000 looms per cluster with the share of government of India up to Rs. 40 crore in 5 years.
The comprehensive handloom cluster development scheme is set to be implemented in eight mega handloom clusters, i.e., Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Murshidabad (West Bengal), Prakasam and Guntur districts (Andhra Pradesh), Godda (Jharkhand), Bhagalpur (Bihar), Virudhanagar (Tamil Nadu), Sivasagar (Asam) and Trichy (Tamil Nadu). This scheme’s objective is to provide the need-based funding for various requirements like technology upgradation, product development, fixing up of Common Facility Centre (CFC), setting up of value addition center, a dye house, and corpus fund for yarn house.
Various projects, like setting up a garment unit, skill spinning unit, automatic skill Reeling unit, etc., are functional under the Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme. The scheme provides the development of handloom, sector, and common infrastructure in a viable format in the cluster.
Through this scheme, those cooperative societies which are not functioning well have been allowed to improve their performance by utilizing the assistance given by this scheme as it provides financial assistance for procuring the raw materials, design innovations, loan at concessional rates, purchase of looms and accessories and skill upgradation which are helpful in the development of handloom weavers and handloom industry as a whole.
Development Commissioner shall be the nodal agency of a comprehensive handloom cluster development scheme, which will primarily be responsible for holding and disbursement funds to the identified implementing agencies (IAs) and keep an eye upon the project. The nodal agency will identify the implementing agencies which shall constitute the institutions of central and state governments, NABARD, semi-government institutions, non-government organizations (NGOs) to undertake this scheme and enter into contracts and make arrangements to implement the schemes in various selected sectors.
The duties of the implementing agency will include identifying the cluster development agent, communicate and interact with National Resource Agency for the training of the cluster development officer, implement the projects within the given time limit and submit the proposal to the nodal agency for their approval. The time frame for completing the cluster project is four years. The release of funds to the cluster development agency will be released in annual installments to the implementing agency.
The state government is empowered to make provisions for the allotment of land free of cost or at a subsidized rate to the cluster for providing with the construction of common facility centers, etc. The state government shall make all endeavors to assist available under the comprehensive handloom cluster scheme to optimize the benefit to the handloom industry. The state government is also empowered to provide legal status to the consortium, which has been developed by the clusters.
India’s government is trying very hard to give due recognition to the handloom industry by promoting the traditional skills and capabilities by skills-building and encouragement given to the handloom weavers through the comprehensive handloom cluster development scheme. The ministry of textiles has undertaken this initiative under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make the development process participative and inclusive, in line with the” make in India” initiative and this scheme will bring us one more step closer to the initiative of Modi government towards ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat.’
The government of India was looking forward towards the development of the handloom industry and upliftment of weavers and formulated the scheme keeping in mind the four broad components, i.e., infrastructure development, providing direct online assistance to artisans through their bank accounts, linking up the market with the private sector participation and development of design and training through various schemes.
The ministry has initiated various actions for supporting budding entrepreneurs and encourages them to take up the handicraft or handloom industry on a commercial scale and to avail credits from MUDRA bank. In addition to this, an action plan has been prepared by the ministry of textiles and the ministry of tourism to exploit tourism’s potential in marketing the handicrafts products.
The Indian government has also launched the ‘India Handloom’ brand for promoting handlooms products of high value with zero defect and zero effect (environment friendly) and assuring the consumers about the quality and genuineness of the product. One of the most important aims of the Modi government is to encourage the use of e-commerce by selling their products online and getting direct benefit transfer under Jan Dhan Yojana.
The government’s efforts in linking handloom with trending fashion and tourism and expanding the market by developing the mega handloom clusters is a commendable step towards fulfilling the objectives and vision of our Prime Minister Modi.
There have been plenty of initiatives by the Government of India. As an Aatmnirbhar Sena, we render full-time aid and support to the promising entrepreneurs to take up the handloom industry as their latest venture because of its reach and importance in the Indian economy.