Saturday, December 13, 2008

Naik Estate, ICICI Bank Lane, Beside Airport Lane, Begumpet, Hyderabad – 500016

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Strengthening traditional weavers and small farmers

Food and clothing is generally believed to reflect the culture and state of any civilization. Therefore, the nature of production and consumption of these two categories is crucial to assess the health of the society. The challenge is not to increase productive capacity through increasing technical excellence which in today’s parameters is only speed and quantity but to look at technical excellence which is human and environment friendly.

Given the current crisis in agriculture, there have been large-scale migrations of youth out of villages. This correlates to the rising number of migrant workers in construction work, which is emerging as the largest urban livelihood. A movement upwards is still possible for those with access to formal education in the urban economy. There is no place for upward mobility for the migrants with scarce resources. The task before society is to rejuvenate the rural economy by supporting small farmers and traditional weavers.

Handloom weaving, till now seen as a craft based, cottage industry still employs a large number of rural families, second only to agriculture. But the perception of the industry only as a traditional craft has masked the trajectory of a large number of weavers who have, over the last ten years used it to achieve a reasonable livelihood, and moved their next generation into mainstream livelihoods. While urban India struggles to manage a growing populations’ infrastructure needs, the vulnerability of a fast changing polarized society is still a challenge that neither policy nor the market has been able to address.

It is our belief that handloom offers a hope to our villages, if it can be established as a viable livelihood for the next generation which faces threat of large-scale migrations into urban slums.

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