Friday, January 28, 2011

Its budget time again, and again we go through the exercise that has been fruitless for the last 10 years, of trying to get the Government in Delhi to understand the importance of and to support the critical rural industry of cotton textile production. The affected communities are angry and despairing, the thinking public is mystified at this neglect. The present Minister of Textiles, any more than the last several, is unlikely to take an interest in the handloom sector, which really deserves its own ministry in recognition of the significance of the sector.

Policy making should be bottom-up, not top-down. Critical raw materials have to be made available at subsidized rates. The recent increase in cotton prices are compensated for by trader-entrepreneurs through slashing weaving wages in textile concentrations such as Chirala in Andhra Pradesh, resulting in a huge exodus from the industry by young weavers, loss of skills & further joblessness.

The 'Recommendations of the Steering Committee for Handlooms' set up by the Planning Commission in 2005 are still relevant today, and could form a rational basis for policy for this sector, a sector which still in 2011 provides the largest employment after agriculture in the country.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Here is a picture of Khadu Chitrakar from the recent Pune show Malkha & Crafts. The Chitrakars tell their own versions of the Ramayana and other stories, with delightful additions & improvisations.

The Pune show was the first time Malkha Marketing Trust organized an exhibition themselves... a lot of work, too much, and we probably will not do it again. It's so much simpler to participate in sales organized by others, particularly the Nature Bazars by Dastkar, where we invariably get good sales without having to worry about publicity, security, setting up stalls, drinking water, etc etc.

At the Pune show we had just a few stalls - Weavers' Wheel selling malkha and khadi garments, Jugaad, with patchwork from Karm Marg, Neev soaps and Karnataka jewellery and bags from Banjara and shepherd communities, patt paintings from Bengal, besides of course the malkha stall.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sutanu's print designs of swans and butterflies are still going strong. It's amazing what a difference a new colour scheme makes, and also amazing how much variety is possible in Kalamkari block printing. Here is one of the new colour schemes for the swan print, which we hope will be available at the Pune show this month.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Six students from the Amsterdam Institute of Fashion are in India on a 4 month exchange programme with the Pearl Academy of Fashion, New Delhi, "to explore the rich Indian culture as well as the country's versatile crafts & textile industry". They visited the malkha stall at the Dastkar Nature Bazaar, the malkha office in Hyderabad and the malkha production centre in Mahbubnagar.

They have "combined their new knowledge with the Dutch way of conceptual thinking and developed two different fashion collections, Freedom to freedom and Coloured by culture" These collections, they say, are "produced in an ethical way using the organic resources of NGOs", including the Malkha Marketing Trust.

The collections are to be presented at the residence of the Ambassador of the Netherlands in New Delhi on January 12, 2011. The students may be contacted through their e-mail