BANGALORE: The problems of weavers cannot be left to the government to sort out. Citizens have to come forward and fight for them, said Prasanna, a volunteer with the All India Federation of Handloom Weavers.
At a panel discussion on ‘Solidarity with Weavers’, organised ahead of a hunger strike by the Federation in Shimoga, Prasanna observed that India was trying to get ahead of China with powerlooms, but this was not an achievable goal because China began its powerlooms long ago.
“It is a false notion that Indian exports were driven by the spice trade -- it was actually by textiles. We can still do this because there is so much acreage dependent on cotton and we have the biggest legacy when it comes to handloom textiles,” Prasanna said.
Leo Saldanha of the Environment Support Group said handloom sector also needs to be looked at in terms of the ecosystem. “The handloom sector is organic and sustainable and will not damage our ecosystem in the long term,” he said.
At present, the government seems to be promoting the powerloom sector, but what it really needs to look at is supporting the industry so that it reaches people, said Vinay Srinivas of Alternative Law Forum. “It is not a subsidy-guzzling, sunset industry like the government makes it out to be,” he said.
To support the movement, people can buy handloom products and promote them among their friends. With more people buying handloom products, it is also likely to get cheaper.