Discussion on ‘Revival of Handlooms Sector in Bihar’

Bihar Young Thinkers Forum organised its Fifth Thinkers’ Meet on the occasion of National Handlooms Day with eminent experts & personalities on the theme ‘Revival of Handlooms Sector in Bihar’. In light of the precarious situation of handlooms as well as the immense potential latent in the textile industry in Bihar, the Forum brought together experts, artisans, and administrators to enlighten the audience the way forward for the revival.

First Guest Speaker was Dr. N Vijaya Lakshmi, IAS (Principal Secretary, Govt. of Bihar), who began her insightful presentation on the Revival of Bihar Textile Industry by reminiscing memories back to her days as a DM and her relation with handlooms & handicrafts. She remarked that textiles are so important that even the names of places have become synonymous with the locally-produced textiles. Delving deeper into the past, Dr. Lakshmi illustrated the Jajmani relationships and the self-reliance of villages in terms of clothing. Referring to the colonial era, she highlighted the detrimental role of the British Raj in destroying the textile sector. Further, Dr. Lakshmi eulogised the role of Khadi in uniting the nation in the Freedom Movement. She pointed out that the market size of the textile industry in India is one of the world’s largest industries.

Talking specifically about the Bihar scenario, she presented a S.W.O.T. Analysis of the textiles industry. Presenting her vision before the audience, she asserted that the main strengths are raw material availability, low production costs, and the existing pool of skilled workers. She reiterated the need to improve the fragmented value-chain, market accessibility, updated technologies & innovation. She also highlighted that the opportunities include synchronised support by Union and State government, increased demand in national & international markets, and availability of e-commerce platforms. Citing the small size of operations, obsolete technologies, and unorganised sector being one of the biggest hurdles, she called for standardisation and need to work on these areas to emerge as a leader in the textile industry. Dr. Lakshmi also highlighted the scope for ‘women empowerment through handlooms’ by enabling leadership and enterprising attitude, backed by various schemes of the government.

Her suggestions included the creation of Handloom Development Policy and Handloom Development Corporation, brand promotion, intensive stylisation, technology & capital infusion, and revival of extinct handlooms of Bihar (including Bavan Booti, Gaya Gamcha Saree, etc). She also called for public-private partnerships in this sector with increased State Patronage and Export Promotion. Hailing handloom clothes, she said that it is not only a piece of clothing, but also an emotion, and timeless art.

The Second Guest of the event, Sh. Hindol Sen Gupta began his address by illustrating his years of experience working on the handloom sector. He stated that in his experience, nothing in all the galaxy of luxury brands world matches that of the Indian treasure of textiles and handlooms. He expressed concern that the Geographical Indication (GI) tagging is not done enough and that every state/region is unique. Sh. Gupta also said that the need of the hour is to launch ‘Incredible India GI’ campaign on the lines of the Incredible India campaign and sell our story better. He also said that a big domestic consumer base is fundamental to celebrate the magic of Mithila’s work, and before the world buys our story, we need to value our textiles and handlooms.

Sh. Gupta also said that we have not done enough to make our textiles story aspirational for the world to accept our products. He promised that Invest India is at the service of the State, and called for the joining hands to create a report of the magical Bihar textiles and immense potential latent in the industry. Sh. Gupta expressed hope that this will usher in an era of revival of textile industries in India. He also stated that Khadi is the biggest FMCG brand in the industry due to the immense efforts of Hon’ble PM. Asking the people present to take inspiration from PM and resolve to make our nation a global leader in the textiles sector.

Some artists, experts, and entrepreneurs including Naquib Ansari, Archana Singh, Ujjwal Kumar, Chandana Dutt, Shamimuddin Ansari, Usha Jha, Iqbal Ansari and Babar Ansari also shared their views, issues, and experiences on working on the ground related to textiles, especially in the pandemic situation. They also made various suggestions for uplifting the status of textile industries and empowering skilled workers. The event ended on a positive note with the slogan ‘Vocal for Local’ and the roadmap laid down for the revival of Handlooms and Textiles in Bihar.

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