Weavers, designers, academics have committed to publishing the innovations in the handloom sector in India. Legal experts will help construct new protection mechanisms to save creativity.
The NALSAR Law University, Hyderabad, has offered to create a special group, work with weavers and write a new law that will highlight their concerns to strengthen the struggling handloom industry, according to Professor Amita Dhanda.
About 300 weavers from India shared the platform with academia at a Global Meet on “Rethinking Indian Industrialisation of Crafts” at Chirala in Andhra Pradesh, according to Ravi Kumar Reddy of REEDS, a Hyderabad-based NGO that conducted the event.
A khadi products exhibition was conducted by the Registry of Sarees (TRS), which showcased Khadi products of the last 200 years. TRS organizes seminars and experiential textile trails to grant knowledge-sharing among sari lovers.
The concert between November 13-19 also features “A discussion on “Knowledge in Handloom Weaving in India” with eminent speakers and experts from Oxford University, NALSAR, Columbia University, IIT Delhi, Netherlands, Germany, and Italy.
Weavers from Thailand, Taiwan, China, and Lavos show their weaving technologies and how their industry was doing. Weavers from Kutch explained about their specialized embroidery skills while those from Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, and Sikkim shared their weaving techniques. A couple of Weavers from Jammu Kashmir gave insights into Carpet Weaving.
The handlooms give livelihoods for 4.3 million families, making it the second largest employer after agriculture. The industry has the potential to make over one million jobs with the lowest per capita investment for the creation of such jobs, through building on existing skills and social capital.
However, due to few perceptions regarding handloom cloth, and the necessity of competing with power loom imitations, growth in the sector is severely hampered, experts pointed out at the discussions.
For instance, power loom designers can easily copy popular handloom designs and produce them for a cheaper price, as designs are not protected by copyright, eating into the demand for handloom cloth, they pointed out.
To enhance the situation of handloom weavers, it is crucial to improve market and production infrastructure, capacitate weavers and designers to innovate deep craft skills and provide access to credit and financial support. Designs have to be safeguarded under the intellectual property regime.
The system of production can be re-engineered such that the creativity of the weaver can co-exist with the demands of production to the designer’s taste. Handloom presently services many growing market niches; luxury, ethnic, semi-urban markets for sarees as well as green markets for sustainable goods. The meet has been conducted against this backdrop in collaboration with Mohan Rao of National Federation of Handlooms and Handicrafts, Prof Bijker of Maastricht University and Ineke Sluiter of Universiteit Leiden