The textile ministry has passed a consonance with government of India towards a systematic and a leaner government body structure for all India handloom and handicraft board, as a response to the current pandemic crisis. The resolution proposed by ministry of textiles will abolish the advisory body that has been provisioned to help government in formulation of the overall development programmes regarding the artistic and socio-economic perspectives.
The board of handicraft came to existence in 1952 by Pupul Jayakar, which was supervised and controlled by Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. The all India handloom board got constituted in the year of 23rd January,1992. The board consists of a chairperson, a co-chair person, vice chairperson 14 official members, 8 institutional members including Member Secretary, and 88 non-official members. The member of the board are selected at both the state and central levels.
The public policy campaigner and reviewer Narsimha Reddy has showed his concern against this resolution in one of his written statement, “India wants to forget Bharat. ‘Make in India’ becomes ‘Rake in India’, without traditional livelihoods,”. The former director at the National Institute of Design ‘Ashok Chatterjee’ has called this decision not only alarming but also unfathomable about the abrupt operation of boards without any consultation from its stakeholders.
The all India hand-loom and handicraft board has always existed as an official forum where the weavers and craftspeople can express their problems and views at a daily basis. After, agriculture hand-loom and handicraft sector is the second biggest employment source and has been an immense contribution in India’s GDP. There is an estimated range from 11 million artisans to over 200 million, of whom at least 4 million are weavers which is almost equivalent to the total direct employment in the IT sector.
The hand-loom weaver are going through a tough livelihood crisis due to the impact of corona virus pandemic and lock down on the families of weavers across India. The other primary reasons are due to the the impact of demonetization and GST imposition on hand-loom products. The fixed allocated budget for the handloom sector has been reducing annually over the years. The resolution reforms needs to address the huge changes taking place in the market as well as the current pandemic situation which has devastated the weaver’s lives tremendously. ‘Handmade in India’ has been widely acknowledged and largest existing craft source in the world which doesn’t only provide the second largest employment but also successfully provide livelihood to country’s cultural and creative industries that are globally acknowledged for their economic and social significance.
According to Jaya Jaitley, the resolustion has been a wiseful decision taken against all traditionally structured board body. She says there’s “no point renovating a dead object”, and continues: “It is best to be rid of it and create something new, effective, dynamic in tune with an Aatmanirbhar Bharat on a clean slate, with inputs from truly experienced and knowledgeable persons rather than use it for the patronage of favourites. It became a mere ritual just like many other meaningless rituals.”
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