Textiles and handicrafts have been traditional cornerstones of our heritage which were popular across the globe. Bharat needs to rediscover the past glory despite the biting competition from mechanised forms of production and multiple pressures of MNC-driven globalisation
Bharat’s textile industry has come a long way. Three main items – handicrafts, textiles and traditional items – have been India’s forte for centuries. In fact, cotton textiles are what attracted the European to Bharat with Marco Polo having praised our textiles in his travelogues by writing about its high quality. Since time immemorial, the variety of products such as embroidered bedspreads, wall hangings and quilts of wild silk on cotton or jute from India had been popular in China, South-East Asia and Europe.
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The entire textile policy can be re-worked to fit in with the new ideas of the PM. No major financial incentives are required but sector–wise treatment is advisable to
Presently, with the industry employing around six crore people, it is the second-largest employment generating sector after agriculture.
Bharat is the largest cotton and jute producer in the world and second largest textile fibre producer in the world with about 10 million tonnes of fibre production in 2015-16; it has the 2nd largest textile manufacturing capacity globally and has 5% share in global textiles and apparel trade.
Thanks to the recent initiatives, today major global garment and apparel brands have started their operations in Bharat. Besides, one area which is receiving enormous attention from all sides is of “technical textiles”, which involves making products such as synthetic geo-textiles, polyolefin woven sacks, architectural membranes, artificial turfs, medical gloves etc.
Under the Make in India scheme, the Government of India has now launched components like- Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks (SITP), Integrated Processing Development Scheme (IPDS), Integrated Skill Development Scheme (ISDS)- of a bold and dynamic strategy to strengthen textile production and encourage this industry to cater to the domestic and international markets efficiently.
As a result of these initiatives, new opportunities are anticipated owing to fresh changes in consumer preferences in which mainly the consumption of man-made fibre is poised to grow much more in future. Bharat has good scope to take advantage of this trend as it already has the second largest installed spindle capacity in the world with more than 50 million spindles in 2014-15. Besides, experts feel that country’s spinning sector is highly advanced and competent globally in terms of price, quality and standards.
However, the main emphasis under Make in India, some feel, should be to reinvigorate the traditional items where Indian craftsmen & skilled weavers who had no match anywhere in the world. Be it silk from Kanchipuram, Mysore or Varanasi or the handlooms from Bengal, Gujarat or other parts – the global market has been benign in compliments to the Master artisans. Even though Bharat has the world”s highest installed weaving capacity with more than 4.9 million looms (including 2.4 million handlooms) in 2014-15, yet, this part of the industry continues to languish over the past several years.
Here too, it is expected that the Make in India programme will bring about a difference as now efforts are being made, as per Ministry sources, to “restore the past glory” of the cottage-based traditional sectors like handlooms and handicrafts through “an integrated approach covering the entire value chain”. Handicrafts are where Bharat has excelled and continues to retain a clear edge in the world market, with its crafts persons widely recognised for their immense skills. The crafts of Bharat are diverse, rich in history and have long been seen as a means of relating to the rich sources of Hindu religion. The craft of each state in Bharat reflect the extensive hold of the religious faith of its people despite the influence of different empires.
Then there are numerous varieties of homemade jewellery. The one big advantage of handcrafted jewellery is that the customer gets to sit with the jeweller to decide upon the design and pattern of the jewellery. Different popular styles are the reputed Kundan Jewellery or the Jadau Jewellery in Gujarat and Rajasthan or the more commonly seen gold jewellery. Gold jewellery never goes out of fashion and is user-friendly and adds to the beauty of the wearer. Some buyers prefer the Pachchikam jewellery, a very old form of jewellery, which needs immense creativity. This
jewellery originated in Gujarat and Kutch.
Truly, Make in India could secure wonderful results for the millions of workers and millions of others who depend on them for their daily livelihood by attracting global attention to the richness in such crafts and traditional items as well. Preserving and rebuilding this form of art and cultural heritage of Bharat, despite the biting competition from mechanised forms of production and multiple pressures of an MNC-driven globalisation.
(The writer is a Delhi-based columnist)