NALGONDA: B Shyam (47), a weaver at Koyalagudem village in Nalgonda district, 50 km away from Hyderabad, has been weaving silk and cotton (SICO) mix yarn for the past 27 years now.
While working along with his wife on a 50 m-long Sico on Sunday morning, he rues not owning a house despite working these many years.
Telangana's weavers who work for master weavers or for weaver co-operative societies allege that only their employers avail most of the government schemes, subsidies and profits.
"Blame it on low returns, my wife and I despite working all day long throughout the month, we are unable to build our home. We make a meager Rs 15,000 working for the master weaver which is far lesser than what we could have earned working separate jobs. I could have earned much more than working even as a watchman," he lamented. Shyam, however, does not see himself as a weaver in another five years.
It may be recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a statement in October 2016 saying that Khadi is not just for nation but also for fashion. However, Shyam added, "While a lot of glamour is attached with handloom clothing, working as a weaver, especially for a master weaver is far from being fancy."
When Express visited Koyalagudem on Sunday, where around 1,000 weavers work either for the master weavers or for the cooperative society of weavers, it came to light that most of these artisans stare at a bleak future while master weavers and cooperative societies are basking in profits.
However, some weavers claim that working for master weaver is better than a cooperative society. Another weaver in Pochampally, on the condition of anonymity, said, "The cooperative society works mostly for itself. They give memberships to only a selected few. They are exploiting us and that is the reason we are working for master weavers who pay us a little better."
On the other hand, cooperative societies maintain that it is the handloom parks which are making good profit.
Srimannarayana, president of Koyalagudem handloom weavers cooperative society, said, "It is only the handloom parks which are benefiting from government incentives. The societies are neglected as a result the weavers have to work for less money. Subsidies are given to capitalists to develop handloom parks. If that is passed to the societies, then the weavers would be at profit."
Kalpana Tadaka, a research scholar in Osmania University and convenor of Telangana handloom weavers forum, said: "Cooperative societies suffer from class and caste bias. Many times presidents and executive members of societies only accept those who belong to their own class or caste which defeats the purpose of a society. Moreover, the societies are also not in tune with latest designs. It is for this reason that many weavers work for master weavers, who are acclimatised to better designs, markets and pay better."