Trama e ordito di una crisi. Un articolo in inglese sulla lotta dei tessitori in India

Weft and warp of a crisis
Vivek S.
Aseem Shrivastava

Though more people in India are in the textile sector, than in any other of the economy, bar agriculture, hostile and indifferent government policies are giving it short shrift
Handloom weavers from all over the country are on a 72-hour hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi from today in protest against the government’s textile policy. The protest is led by Rastra Cheneta Jana Samakhya, the State Handloom Weavers’ Union of Andhra Pradesh. Weavers from Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh are participating in it.
Some of the most pressing issues of the handloom industry relate to budget allocation and policy-making. Hence the protest is timed to coincide with the winter session of Parliament. Its aim is to draw national attention to the long-standing problems of this industry before the Budget Session. Meagre budgets for handlooms year after year have not recognised the significance of this industry in providing productive livelihoods in rural areas.
More people in India are in the textile sector than in any other of the economy, bar agriculture. Approximately, one out of 12 households in India derives its primary income from it. And the survival of one out of 60 Indian households (according to the founding president of the National Handloom Weavers Union, Macherla Mohan Rao) depends on the viability of the handloom economy.


The Hindu DISCOLOURATION: Orienting the handloom industry towards the international economy is a wrong step by the government. Photo: R.M. Rajarathinam

Debt, intermediaries

However, thanks to indifferent, even hostile, policies by successive governments, handloom-weaving is in severe crisis today. In some States, the advent of intensified competition in the era of aggressive globalisation has forced scores of weavers to take their own lives. Even official estimates show that due to unbearable debt burdens, about a 1,000 weavers may have committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh alone since 2002. According to the National Handloom Census of 2009-10, close to 60 per cent of India’s weavers today fall below the poverty line, and 80 per cent face high debts, being at the mercy of intermediaries who also double up as moneylenders, controlling access to both markets and raw materials. These key inputs have become increasingly more expensive since the advent of globalisation in the 1980s.
From the colonial era, the handloom economy has had to face the consequences of State policies that have consistently promoted increasing mechanisation and automation. While the mill sector — in the throes of crippling debt — continues to find favour with governments ever willing to offer sops and subsidies (often in the name of scientific or technical advancement) to it, the handloom economy has consistently received third class treatment.
One metre out of every four of the country’s cloth is produced in the handloom economy, yet it gets just one rupee out of 20 spent by the government on the textile industry. Another way to comprehend the injustice is to remember that while one out of five people working in the textile sector as a whole is a handloom weaver, s/he gets just one government rupee for every Rs.20 allocated per worker in the mill sector (and even this is cornered by the captains of industry).
For reservation act
At the heart of the weavers’ demands is that the government redress the situation through the implementation of the Handloom Reservation Act, negated by blatant and illegal duplication of handlooms by powerlooms. They are also demanding their entitlement of higher allocation in the central budget and an assured, affordable supply of the key inputs of yarns and dyes.
The government has sought to address the weavers’ crisis by trying to orient the handloom industry towards the international economy. This is outrageous folly.
The truth is that the handloom economy is deeply rooted in local cultures, traditions and markets. To lose sight of this is to persist with the mindset that is the source of the handloom industry’s crisis. Such an outlook also betrays a poor understanding both of the unemployment in the country’s modern sectors as well as of the handloom economy’s capacity to meet the challenge of large-scale rural employment, if enlightened policies are followed.
Those protesting at Jantar Mantar from December 10 to 13 are there in the faith that the resolution of these issues lies in the strength of collective action by weavers from around the country.
(Vivek S. is a Hyderabad-based analyst. Aseem Shrivastava, a Delhi-based writer and economist, is the author, with Ashish Kothari, of Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India, Viking Penguin, New Delhi, 2012).

India a porte aperte

a cura di Pangaea TraveLab

In collaborazione con Alessandra Bianca L’Abate – tessitrice fiorentina, in India dal 1994, dove, ispirandosi alla filosofia gandhiana, opera nel commercio equo e solidale dei tessuti e non solo – abbiamo chiesto a quindici famiglie e/o organizzazioni socialmente attive di aprire le loro porte di casa entrando a fare parte della rete del Turismo Creativo. Le case pronte ad accogliervi sono dislocate in varie località del Sud India.
L’invito a sperimentare questa forma di turismo è rivolto a viaggiatori, di qualsiasi età, che abbiano un particolare affetto e curiosità per l’India accompagnati dal desiderio di scoprirla con occhi nuovi.

Chi lo chiama turismo consapevole, responsabile, etico, giusto…

noi abbiamo deciso di chiamarlo CREATIVE TOURISM (Turismo Creativo) rendendo onore alla scelta di favorire la comunicazione e scambio fra viaggiatori Italiani e Indiani socialmente attivi: contadini, pastori, artigiani tessili, artisti, comunità di persone diversamente abili.

Tutte le notizie sul sito di Pangaea TraveLab

da Bangalore

Ecco un articolo uscito su un gionale di Bangalore

Join hands with A Hundred Hands
By Anindita Mitra, Bangalore

A Hundred Hands, the not-for-profit group has quietly weaved itself into the cityscape. And today, they’re flagging off the second edition of The Handmade Collective. The aim of this bazaar is to bring back the joy of hand-made objects into our lives and, in the process, help craftspeople be commercially viable, says Mala Dhawan, founder trustee of A Hundred Hands.

“We want to bring back the whole joy of hand-made crafts to people. We try to get people to appreciate the process involved and draw them into the world of Indian arts and crafts. We work with artisan groups and small artists, helping them become commercially viable. We try to extend support at each phase, right from orders to sales. The aim is to cut out the middleman and do away with the whole notion of the ‘faceless’ artisan. Here, people get to meet artisans who’ve handcrafted the various objects, they get to hear their stories,” says Mala.

This year, the collective includes Venkat Shyam — an award-winning Gond painter specialising in wildlife, Bindia Thapar — a children’s illustrator working on environmentally sensitive topics, Aditi Babel — a book maker who’s broken the conventional structures of a book, Asha Ram — a traditional Mughal style wood carver, the sisters Manisha and Vaishali Gadekar of KEC Green Games who make traditional games for children, and last, but not the least, Alessandra L’Abate, an Italian weaver and textile activist who is a Gandhian, working for the cause of the weavers.

Alessandra started the Weavers’ Wheel network in Tamil Nadu with three communities of farmers. It works to make the weaving process sustainable and ethical — right from cotton farming, carding, spinning and natural dyeing to marketing. The network embraces the Gandhian ideals of sarvodaya — welfare for all, swadeshi — local production, distribution and consumption and shramadan — service to the community. Alessandra is bringing the fabric malkha to The Handmade Collective, the fabric now termed “freedom fabric”.

Khadi isn’t ethical,” she states outright. “If ethics imply fair conditions for the producers then khadi has failed. The Khadi Commission has fixed a price for the fabric and if the weavers and spinners have to adhere to that price point, they are left with a very small amount of money. Malkha is the freedom fabric. We are implementing the Gandhian principle outside the ambit of the government. Malkha is the result of technology being harnessed to the service of the rural community and we want people to take up this ethical fabric,” says Alessandra.

Malkha, for the uninitiated, is pure cotton made from raw cotton sourced locally. The technology used is modern, but the weaving principles are traditional and the process is energy efficient as it does away with unnecessary transportation and baling and unbaling of cotton by heavy machinery. The fabric has beautiful texture, is soft and keeps shape for a longer time. The fabric has found favour with responsible fashion designers, including big names like Tarun Tahiliani and Wendell Rodricks.

For the fabric to be sustainable, the weavers need regular orders, feels Alessandra, rather than sporadic efforts by designers who create one or two collections around the fabric and then leave. To this end, Alessandra and the Weavers’ Wheel network works with a group of Italian designers who wanted ethical fabric. “They give us regular orders in return for us marketing their designs in India. We have got some of their products, priced between Rs750 and Rs1,800, at the collective, too,” says Alessandra.

The Handmade Collective
11.30am to 7.30pm
4, Ashley Road,
Behind Hotel Ajanta
Off Brunton Road

Trame controvento … un filo per volta …

Un fresco saluto da Bangalore !!!

Siamo al quinto giorno del Nature Bazaar che presenta le opere artistiche, uniche, ed artigianali – oltre a svariate forme di arte (danza, musica, canto, rituali) – di 120 gruppi provenienti da tutta l’India e dal Bangladesh.

Questo messaggio per condividere con voi l’emozione e la gioia di questo momento in cui ci troviamo a contatto con artigiani tradizionali e con i loro meravigliosi variopinti manufatti tessili…. ikat, batik, broccati, spolinati. Tessuti con filati di seta, di lana, di cotone. Seta della nonviolenza (senza uccisione del baco), lana filata a mano sull’Himalaya, cotone coltivato dai contadini del Tamilnadu… un banchetto imbandito meravigliosamente per l’avida fame di storia, tradizione, innovazione della sottoscritta.

Nello stand di Weavers Wheel in cui mi danno una mano un paio di amici locali si alternano in questi giorni come ospiti di riguardo artisti ed artigiani, contadini e produttori di tinture naturali, tessitori tradizionali la cui arte è in pericolo.

Fra il pubblico abbiamo consumatori attenti ed intelligenti che amano ascoltare a partecipare alle Storie nascoste dietro ciascuno dei pezzi esposti. Risposta entusiasta verso il malkha (the freedom fabric) e la collezione di trame di Storia di Altra Qualità.

Nei cinque giorni passati sono finiti in un armadio privato i seguenti capi acquistati da altrettanti ammiratori: 6 abiti in malkha, 13 tippy dress, 3 golden kurtha,…
Ci aspettano altri cinque giorni. un caro saluto a tutti.

Alessandra Bianca L’Abate


Ecco la locandina della prossima mostra mercato alla quale saremo presenti comew rete Weavers Wheel.

Nel nostro stand saranno ospiti un coltivatore di indaco, un rappresentante dei contadini di cotone, un tessitore tradizionale.

Avremo prodotti in khadi e in malkha, alcuni capi disegnati da Altra Qualita’ per la linea “Trame di storie”.

Avremo prodotti e tessuti del Gandhi Rural Centre.

Il nostro stand sara’ a finco di quello di Porgai Sittilingi (le donne che hanno fatto i ricami dei capi di Altra Qualita’) e al team del malkha dell’Andhra Pradesh.

Non vediamo l’ora di riunirci tutti in questa occasione di festa mercato!!!

Il tema del bazaar e’ il naturale e l’ecologico quindi porteremo solo tinture vegetali e cotoni naturali non tinti… stiamo preparando alcune bandiere per la pace per essere presenti a distanza alla marcia Perugia-Assisi.


Il lavoro dei contadini di cotone di Adisil, Tamilnadu

Alcune immagini del progetto Adisil

Desidero condividere con voi queste foto che documentano il lavoro dei contadini di cotone di Adisil, Tamilnadu, che hanno saputo impegnarsi – con costanza e pazienza – nel percorso che ha portato – con fatica e gioia – alla conversione del loro batuffolo di cotone in filato e tessuto…

Avremo prossimamente il piacere di toccare, usare, apprezzare il tessuto ed il filato di Adisil anche in Italia nei banchetti di Weavers Wheel, Coop. Ravinala.


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