The Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee in his address after presenting the National Awards, Shilp Guru Awards and Sant Kabir Awards to weavers and artisans for the year 2011 in New Delhi on Tuesday said that an intensive and collective step at multiple levels needs to be taken to safeguard the future of handicrafts and handlooms sectors.
Speaking about the challenges faced by weavers and craftpersons, he said that the products in this sector remain vulnerable to competition from cheaper imports and machine made substitutes. These factors need to be addressed urgently, systematically and comprehensively and they must be given more attention towards development of capacity, skills, designs and infrastructure.
These (measures) could include, for example, facilitation of easier access of these sectors to credit from banks and other financial institutions and the promotion of the products of these sectors in domestic and foreign markets.
Minister of State Independent charge for Textiles, Santosh Gangwar informed about the various scheme being run by the Textiles Ministry in 12th Five Year Plan for handloom and handicrafts.
Main thrust of these schemes is to provide momentum through training and capacity building by integrating technology with craft and weaving techniques, which will lead to value addition in the craft as well as handloom products.
The Minister also informed of approval of two mega clusters at Guntur and Prakasam in Andhra Pradesh and Godda in Jharkhan. These clusters are in addition to previously sanctioned four mega clusters.
In addition, The Ministry is supporting setting up of Raw Material Bank to facilitate easy and regular availability of certified raw material to artisans. Efforts are being done to broaden existing marketing infrastructure so that the artisans and weavers continue to get opportunities to sell their products throughout the year without having to face the patches of lean demand.
While, the Textiles Secretary, Zohra Chatterjee emphasized the need to popularize traditional products among the youth. She said that 'Setu Yozna' of associating designers with handloom and handicraft cluster is bringing good results.
The scheme of Shilp Guru, Sant Kabir and National Awards for Master Weavers and Master Craftpersons is jointly implemented by the office of the Development Commissioner (handicrafts) and Development Commissioner (Handlooms).
The handlooms sector plays a vital role in Indian economy, between 2010 and the present, there has been a growth of 34 percent in exports from the handlooms sector and 126 percent in the exports from the handicrafts sector. There are 24 lakh handlooms, providing employment to about 44 lakh persons and handicrafts sector provides employment to about 70 lakh persons. The textile sector provides largest employment opportunities next to agriculture.
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