September 5, 2020 1:25:42 pm
There have been only six meetings in the last 15 years of the All India Handloom Board, says Santosh Kumar Singh, Additional Development Commissioner (Handlooms). “As a result, the contribution of the Board for development and promotion of Handlooms has been insignificant. The focus is now on field officers who have done some exemplary job in reaching out to weavers and create links with district, state and Central Administration,” he says.
This was Singh’s written reply to The Indian Express. Last month, the government issued an order to dissolve the Board, which functioned under the Ministry of Textiles. The move has riled many who have invested decades in promoting the country’s handloom sector, since it was the only organisation with 88 non-institutional members, comprising weavers and artisans from all over India. So practically, it was the only forum where the government could get direct feedback from the stakeholders.
Singh writes: “It is in line with their vision of a leaner government machinery and the need for systematic rationalisation of government bodies. The various bodies and organisations under the Ministry are accordingly being examined and being retained or abolished based on their functional necessity. As a part of this ongoing exercise, the government abolished the All India Handloom Board on July 27, 2020.”
The All India Handloom Board was first constituted in the year 1992, and was reconstituted thereafter from time to time. It was last constituted in February 2016. Singh says that the decision to disband the board follows an assessment that it failed to impact policy making and became vehicle of unnecessary patronage with the emergence of a middleman culture that did not help the interests of weavers.
While the meetings of the Board have been few and far in between, the Ministry says that the Weaver Service Centres, State Handloom bodies and organisations have been instrumental in promoting Handloom thorough their initiatives and implementation of government policies. It adds that consultation with stakeholders – industry, e-commerce portals, designers, handloom entrepreneurs and organisations, and state bodies – takes place at various points of time through structured meetings held by Ministry of Textiles. “In the above backdrop, the All India Handloom Board had become redundant, and with a view to rationalise the structure of Handlooms, it was abolished,” says Singh.
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