• #IWearHandloom says Smriti Irani, many others join in

    “I support Indian weavers, here’s my #IWearHandloom look,” Smriti Irani posted a picture of herself a wearing handloom saree on Twitter starting the #IWearHandloom campaign as an effort to bring focus to the handloom sector and the weavers who weave the assorted fabric that is a hit in the international market.

    ‪#‎IWearHandloom is a campaign to show support to a community which weaves the diverse fabric of our nation’s rich heritage and bring international fame to our nation. It is a tribute to women who contribute to 15% of cloth production in India and 95% of world handloom production, it is saying thank you for their hardwork and dedication for keeping our traditions alive,” wrote Irani on her Facebook page.

    Draped in a handwoven silk saree from Bihar, Irani also urged others to post their pictures as well as a sign of support to the industry that employs the second largest percentage of population in the country after agriculture.

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    Palki Upadhyay, who is the founder of an online handloom saree store- Reyva, thinks it is a great initiative. “For a prominent minister and a popular face otherwise to endorse the cause of handloom industry, it is definitely going to help.”  Palki also feels that the weavers are a big part of the handloom industry. “The weavers are very special both culturally and economically to the country. And if someone leads from the front like this and gives them the support that they need then it will go a long way. I mean it’s a very small initiative but it is going to inspire more women to buy handloom and to wear handloom.”

    However, there are some who have a different point of view. Anju Maudgal Kadam of the revolutionary 100 Saree Pact campaign thinks, “for now it is just a #hashtag.” She also questions, “I’d want to know how we are helping the weaver with this?”

    The hashtag is the first step, but we need a proper plan of how the ministry will go about making business better for the weavers. “The issues are complex. If we want the handloom sector to sustain itself, we must be willing to pay a fair price for the weaver’s creation. The weaver needs to access silk and cotton at a fair price on one end and reach the market at the other. Middlemen and “well meaning” people who promote handloom, often profit more than the weaver,” suggested Kadam about some of the shortcomings of the handloom industry.

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    The 100 Saree Pact was a similar social media campaign that became all the rage last year. It is about getting women to wear sarees as its popularity is getting diminished especially in the metro cities.

    “The approach has to have a 360 degree vision. Also, the fact remains, power looms ( that have their own challenges also ) produce more Sarees and more profits. It’s a question of economics and sustenance. Innovation, a fair market, finance, health benefits, everything comes into play….,” she added.

    Having said that, Kadam completely supports the effort as she has also posted her picture wearing a handloom saree on her social media accounts.

    Not just her many celebrities have come forward to support the textile minister and posted pictures wearing handloom online.

    What did you think of this campaign? Do share your thoughts in the comments section below.

    Feature Image Credit: Vagabomb.com

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