A Global Meet “Knowledge in Handloom Weaving in India” featuring many eminent speakers and experts from Oxford University, NALSAR, Columbia University, IIT Delhi, Netherlands, Germany and Italy began today at one of India’s largest weaving-focused towns, Chirala in Andhra Pradesh informed Ravi Kumar Reddy of REEDS, a city based NGO in a press note issued today in Hyderabad, the joint capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The theme of the meet is “Rethinking Indian Industrialisation of Crafts”. It is organised in collaboration with Mr Mohan Rao of National Federation of Handlooms and Handicrafts, Prof Bijker of Maastricht University and Ineke Sluiter of Universiteit Leiden.
During the inaugural speech today, Padmabhushan Sri Rajiv Sethi, Asian Heritage Foundation, a not for profit organization servicing creative and cultural industries since 1996, expressed his concern over the shrinking creative spaces in formal pedagogy pertaining to handlooms industry.
He outlined the importance of life skills in handloom industry which cannot be measured by an y economic indices. He emphasized on textiles of making, doing and being as a living form of the art which converges as the true essence of handlooms.
The Padmabhushan Awardee Sri Rajiv Sethi called upon every person in the society to collectively revive India’s handlooms as they carry the tangible and intangible heritage of the nation.
Sri Sethi made to the young artisans in the handlooms to create a pressure group and collectively bargain for their stronger textile policy to keep the industry and art alive.
The 8 day Conference Cum Workshop called Chenetha Chethikala Sambaralu lined up many eminent speakers and experts like Uzramma of Malkha, Jaya Jaitly; Jagada Rajagopalan, Consultant; Amita Dhanda, NALSAR; Anique Hamelin, Classics and Ancient History, University of Amsterdam; Ashoke Chatterjee, Prabhat Education Foundation, Ahmedabad; BuYun Chen, Professor, Swarthmore College; Dorothy Ko, Professor of History and Women’s Studies, Barnard College, Columbia University; Ellen Harlizius-Kluck, Research Institute for the History of Technology and Science Deutches Museum, Munich; Rajeev Sethi, Asian Heritage Foundation; Sampat Mukhopadhyay, IIT Delhi; Subir Kumar Saha, IIT Delhi; Ulinka Rublack, Facujty of History, Cambridge University and others
It is organsied by Hyderabad based, NGO, REEDS–Rural Economic and Educational Development Society. It is a Not-for-Profit organization involved in formulating and implementing programs relating to various spheres of rural life. REEDS is a registered Society under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860..
The purpose of the conference is knowledge sharing, standardization and innovation of techniques, designs, motifs and repertoires.
The Workshop is led by scholars, academicians, weavers of outstanding expertise like Sri Mohan Rao, Sri Ravikumar Reddy from Reeds, Uzramma from Malkha, Mr. Bijker from Maastricht University, Padmabhushan Sri Rajiv Sethi, Smt. Anuradha Reddy from Dr. Reddy’s Foundation, Smt. Annapurna and Sri Mamidipudi Ravindra Vikram.
The Focus of the workshop is to exhibit the various types of looms, demonstrate the weaving techniques from various regions across the nation.
Another objective of the workshop, according to the organsiers is to exhibit the technology sharing through sessions where weavers interact with each other with scholars and designers to discuss the various techniques used across India in the knowledge sharing demonstrations.
The workshop is also aimed at activists and writers to document the history and also share the innovation techniques that have been developed for uplifting the industry.
The meet is the convergence of various experts, artisans, tradespersons who are involved in the handloom industry such as the spinners, dyers, sizers, warpers, embroiderers, tailors.
The handlooms provide livelihoods for 4.3 million families, making it the 2nd largest employer sector after Agriculture. The meet will provide a roadmap to transform the future of handloom weavers through innovations and network building.
The meet is organized by REEDs, a Hyderabad based NGO involved in formulating and implementing programs to various spheres of rural life. The industry has the potential to create over one million jobs with the lowest per capita investment for creation of such jobs, through building on existing skills and social capital.
The handloom industry employs thousands of people across the state. However, due to certain perceptions regarding handloom cloth, and the necessity of competing with power loom imitations, growth in the sector is severely hindered. For example, power loom designers can easily copy popular handloom designs and produce them in a cheaper fashion, as designs are not protected by copyright, eating into the demand for handloom cloth.
In order to improve 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 protected 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 designers taste. Handloom currently services many growing market niches; luxury, ethnic, semi-urban markets for sarees as well as green markets for sustainable goods. The meet is organised against this backdrop.
Many Scholars, artisans and other professionals involved in the textile industry are participating in order to better understand and promote futures and livelihoods in handloom weaving informed Ravi.
The meet will go on till 19th November.