Weavers to protest automation

Monday, Jan 06, 2014
The All India Federation of Handloom Organisation (AIFHO) will launch large-scale Satyagra resisting mechanisation of handlooms from January 15, said P Prasanna, convenor of Desi, an NGO, into production and sales of products made by khadi and village.

Speaking to the reporters here at the weekend, Prasanna said, as part of the satyagraha, the organisation had begun holding awareness meetings amongst weavers at their respective habitats from January 1. The organisation would launch a campaign, 'Banashankari Yatre', from January 15 and the indefinite strike from January 30, he said.

The 'Banashankari Yatre' would be launched in Gajendraghad of Gadag district on January 15 and will conclude at Badami in Bagalkot district on January 27. Here, a large number of handloom workers, social activists, environmentalist, writers, artists and other like-minded people would cross 200 kms on foot. This campaign would cover the villages having a high concentration of weavers and try to organise them, he said.

Later, on January 30, the indefinite strike would be launched at different places, Prasanna said adding, he and others would launch the agitation at Heggodu village in Sagar taluk of Shimoga district. Similar type of agitations would be launched simultaneously in other places, he said.

Prasanna said successive governments have neglected the handloom sector in the country. Instead of strengthening this sector, governments have tried to destroy handlooms by encouraging mechanisation. The governments, citing reasons like pitiable conditions of handloom weavers and the drudgery involved in hand-held process, were trying to promote the power looms.

India had 4.33 million handloom units employing 2.4 million people.

This was the highest number of handlooms in the entire world. Moreover, in India, the handlooms sector was dominated by women who consist of 78 per cent of the labour force. The percentage of other backward communities (OBC) and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (SCĂ´ST) engaged in this sector was 45.18 per cent and 28.25 per cent respectively, he said.

The major demands of the organisation are that a public statement be made that handlooms shall never be mechanised, that introduction of power looms into handloom clusters shall be stopped forthwith, the Handlooms (Reservation of Articles for Production) Act, 1985 shall be strictly implemented, non-reserved commodities shall be provided to power loom weavers in the handloom clusters, with a buy back arrangement and the delivery system for all handloom schemes shall be improved and that the erring officials should be punished.