As India Celebrates Its National Handloom Day, Weavers Stare At A Bleak Future
Every year on August 7, National Handloom Day is celebrated in India. On this day, the government and other organizations honor the weaving community for their immeasurable contribution to the country’s socio-economic development. This day also reaffirms India’s commitment to protecting its handloom heritage and empowering weavers and workers with greater opportunities to ensure livelihoods.
The Government of India in 2015 decided to designate August 7 every year as National Handloom Day. On August 7, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first National Handloom Day in Chennai.
The roots behind this day lie in India’s freedom struggle. It was on this day in 1905 that the Swadeshi Movement was launched. The movement came as a response to the plans of brutal partition of Bengal under the supervision of Lord Curzon.
A big meeting was held at the Calcutta Townhall, and the Swadeshi Movement’s formal proclamation was made. People were urged to boycott goods like the Manchester cloth and Liverpool salt.
Stalwarts like Rabindranath Tagore, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Ajit Singh, Syed Haider Raza led the movement in different parts of Bengal. School and college students were the most active participants in the movement. Even housewives joined the movement.
The movement was largely successful, and foreign imports were reduced between 1905 and 1908. However, people who participated in the movement were met with hostile action from the British government.
Condition of the Weavers
Although National Handloom Day is being celebrated with fervor on social media, with politicians across the spectrum wishing the country, a lot hasn’t changed for the weaving community.
The Fourth All India Handloom Census (2019-20) revealed 31.45 lakh handloom weaver households in the country. Many public welfare schemes have been rolled out to provide a social safety net to help with training, upskilling, health, getting a market for their products, health insurance, and more; awareness is alarmingly low. The report also stated that 65 percent of households had less than 5,000 a month. The pandemic has added to the woes of the dwindling textile industry. With markets closed to sell their products, many weavers have been forced to leave their legacy.