Encouraging textile industry in India

To mark National Handloom Day, a session on breathing new life into India's textile industries and reversing the fortunes of indigenous weavers was webcasted live on August 7. The live session was a part of the 'In Conversation' with the 'Mystic series', which also saw Sadhguru, founder, 'Isha Foundation', in an absorbing conversation with Smriti Irani, Union Minister of Textiles and Minister of Women and Child Development. It was moderated by Lavina Baldota, a patron of arts and crafts, who has been tirelessly working with the weavers to create exquisite hand-crafted textiles.

"I am not against machines, I am not against industrialisation, but what is done with human hands has a certain aesthetic, has a certain beauty, uniqueness and above all is a human expression," said Sadhguru.

Smriti Irani talked about the disconnection between handloom products, the youth and modern markets. She said that the Textile Ministry has started talking with big commercial brands like 'BIBA' and 'Arvind Mills' to promote handmade weaves.

"We are appealing to people in the commercial segment to source their cloth directly from the weavers, bringing about a synergy that was long absent," said the minister.

Sadhguru spoke about the need to encourage the Indian textile industry by introducing handloom products in schools, tourism circuits and aviation industry. He also made a strong pitch for school uniforms to be made from handmade weaves of the state.

"It is a crime to wrap a child in a poly-fiber. You do that to dead fish, not to living children. Especially a child's body is very vulnerable to this, as their physical and psychological well being is impacted by poly-fiber entering into their system," said the founder.

The conversation generated an in-depth look at challenges facing the handloom industry and dwelt on solutions for this ancient trade of India. Sadhguru welcomed the government's recent move to introduce barrier-free trade for agricultural produce, which will encourage more farmers to plant yarn yielding tree crops.

"All of us know the struggles that the Indian farmer has been going through for a variety of reasons, but one fundamental reason is because farmers are completely invested in growing monoculture agriculture and perishable items. By 2030, if 30% of the land is dedicated to fibre cultivation, it would be a huge relief to the farmer because now he has a product, which is not perishable where there is more opportunity to market it in a lucrative way," Sadhguru explained.

To mark the National Handloom Day, the Textile Ministry also unveiled its plans to develop 10 craft and handloom villages across the country. The government hopes to attract tourists to these villages to popularise the products and help people discover the rich legacy of Indian weavers.

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