Travails of Weavers
The book Textile under neoliberalism in India is an attempt to look at the dynamics governing weavers of Banaras and contextualising their position in the structure of production while exploring their relationship with politics, society and economic structure. According to the book, despite the warning from many economists, intellectuals and pro-people political parties, liberalisation was introduced in India. Opening of the market brought formidable competition to India’s textile industry in general and to the handloom sector in particular. Globalisation has affected different units of textile in different ways. Mills have their own problems. They are facing competition from powerlooms–cut in subsidies from government, non-availability of raw materials, apparel dumping, technologically poor machines having less efficiency, etc.
The writer maintains that unfortunately, most of the weavers have been compelled to switch over from the handlooms to the powerlooms. The rising costs and absence of government policy for craft protection in India has resulted in decline and the craftsmen’s shift to other professions. The mechanisation and increasing competition, in the context of neo-liberal and export-oriented economic policies in India and beyond, have had a cost for the weaver (julaha), the lowest unit in the whole production chain of textile sector. These changes have condemned the least capital intensive producing units to disappear, as exemplified by the crisis of the handloom industry in Varanasi, which affected weavers in and around the city. Most of the weavers today worked as a daily wager taking raw material from gaddidars. Their wage has gone down with the increase in working hour. The casualisation of work, shift to other jobs, low income, increased working hours and absence of holiday mark their transformation from independent artisan to a labourer.
Textile under Neoliberalism
By: Manjur Ali
Published by: Kalpaz-Publication
The weavers, who are the real stakeholders and take ownership of the weaving occupation, are into weaving more by compulsion than choice. Additionally, these poor weavers are cut off from the marker and are too unorganised to make any difference. They lack resources, access to market, credit and raw material and any form of organisations to have an effect on the market. The need is to create and promote structures that organise the weavers to collectively engage with the market, provide them with quality raw materials and other facilities. The book emphasises that such collectives would enhance the ability of weavers to access market information. Diversification into other products is taking place mostly into the powerloom products. Diversification by the handloom weavers is very limited and is mostly by compulsion and not by choice or any sustained market strategy.
In a nutshell, this book reflects upon the impact of international agencies and their policies on textile in the developing countries like India. India has variety of production technique under textile. It contains handloom, hosiery, powerlooms, computer embroidery nachine etc. Each of these got influenced by the change in policy since 1990s. The book focuses on the impact on handloom industry in the state of Uttar Pradesh. While doing that, a comparative analysis has been done with powerloom production, cotton and silk yarn-based handloom. This research delves upon the cottage industry of textile sector, It looks at the theoretical issues like de-skilling, re-skilling, displacement and production within the timeframe of 20 years of liberalisation.
By Ashok Kumar