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HomeIndiaGovt marks National Handloom Day just days after scrapping handloom, handicrafts boards

Govt marks National Handloom Day just days after scrapping handloom, handicrafts boards

The textile ministry scrapped the two boards to create a 'leaner government machinery'. Activists however say it removed a platform where stakeholders could advise the govt on policy.

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New Delhi: Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani Friday took to Twitter to mark the sixth National Handloom Day and urged people to be ‘vocal for handmade’, and support local weavers and artisans. 

This comes just days after the textile ministry scrapped the All India Handicrafts Board on 3 August, and the All India Handloom Board a few days before that on 27 July.

“With the vision of ‘Minimum Government and Maximum Governance’, a leaner Government Machinery and the need for systematic rationalisation of Government bodies, the Government of India has abolished All India Handloom Board with effect from the date of issue of this resolution,” the government notification read. The notification abolishing the handicrafts board says exactly the same.

Both the boards were advisory bodies created to help the government in formulating overall development programmes in the relevant sectors, “keeping in view socio-economic cultural and artistic perspective”.

Talking to ThePrint, Sanjay Rastogi, development commissioner for handlooms who issued the notice, said, “This was simply an advisory board, which hadn’t met for the last six to seven years. We are having a fact sheet prepared regarding the board and will be sharing the information regarding the same.”

He added that a draft textile policy was in the works.

Meanwhile, Irani posted pictures of her home with a tweet that read: “Handloom can enrich our daily lives and surroundings in many ways; from clothing to furnishing to Masks in Covid times to wall hanging. Bring home handmade in India!”

Irani also organised a virtual programme, which saw the presence of Textile Ministry Secretary Ravi Capoor and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, said a PIB statement.

Various functions were organised across the country as well as at the campuses of the National Institutes of Fashion Technology (NIFT) to mark the day, the statement added.

7 August was chosen as the National Handloom Day to commemorate the Swadeshi Movement, which was launched on this day in 1905. 

The objective is to generate awareness about the handloom industry among the people and its contribution to socio-economic development.

Also read: Handlooms silent, no Bohag Bihu sale: Assam textile hub Sualkuchi fights to survive Covid

‘Draft textile policy under progress’

Talking to ThePrint, Rastogi added that his department is trying to reach out to stakeholders to churn out ideas in the interest of weavers.

“After the last meeting the board had in 2014, we are trying to get all industry stakeholders on board to come together to ideate and form channels, which work the best in the interest of the weavers of the country.

“A draft textile policy is also under work. Once it is finalised at the ministry level, we will have a meeting with the various stakeholders across the country and incorporate their suggestions in this policy,” he added.

Criticism over abolishing the boards

When the boards were abolished, several activists had reacted in disappointment. 

Calling it a “worrying move”, activist Laila Taybji, in her Facebook post, had written: ”All these years on, it remained one of the official forums, however watered down, where voices and views of weavers and craftspeople could be expressed directly. One place where the representatives of the sector were present in considerable numbers, and were actually empowered to advise the government in policy and sectoral spending.” 

Public policy reviewer Dr. D. Narasimha Reddy wrote: “Expenditure on this (handloom) Board is hardly Rs 1,00,000 per year. One would wonder what made the managers of ‘Minimum Government and Maximum Governance’ programme to pick up to reduce their expenditure, where no expenditure has been happening.”

Also read: Smriti Irani’s wish for her epitaph shows she is a rare politician who can laugh at herself


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