Its budget time again, and again we go through the exercise that has been fruitless for the last 10 years, of trying to get the Government in Delhi to understand the importance of and to support the critical rural industry of cotton textile production. The affected communities are angry and despairing, the thinking public is mystified at this neglect. The present Minister of Textiles, any more than the last several, is unlikely to take an interest in the handloom sector, which really deserves its own ministry in recognition of the significance of the sector.
Policy making should be bottom-up, not top-down. Critical raw materials have to be made available at subsidized rates. The recent increase in cotton prices are compensated for by trader-entrepreneurs through slashing weaving wages in textile concentrations such as Chirala in Andhra Pradesh, resulting in a huge exodus from the industry by young weavers, loss of skills & further joblessness.
The 'Recommendations of the Steering Committee for Handlooms' set up by the Planning Commission in 2005 are still relevant today, and could form a rational basis for policy for this sector, a sector which still in 2011 provides the largest employment after agriculture in the country.
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