From For­est and Farm to Fash­ion!

ex­plores the ef­forts of the Maharashtra State Hand­looms Cor­po­ra­tion (MSHC) which have spanned tra­di­tion, tech­nol­ogy, tech­nique and de­sign, and aim to bring the weaves and weavers of Vi­darbha into na­tional and in­ter­na­tional spot­light.


Maharashtra has long been at the cross­roads be­tween North and South In­dia. The state is syn­ony­mous with a pro­gres­sive out­look man­i­fest in dif­fer­ent facets of its agri­cul­ture, in­dus­try, man­u­fac­tur­ing and ser­vices sec­tors and a rich cul­tural her­itage show­cased in a spec­trum of arts, lit­er­a­ture, ar­chi­tec­ture as well as tex­tiles. MAHARASHTRA STATE HAND­LOOMS COR­PO­RA­TION (MSHC) Maharashtra has a her­itage of hand wo­ven tex­tiles tra­di­tion­ally wo­ven in dif­fer­ent towns and vil­lages across the state. The MSHC was es­tab­lished in Nag­pur in 1971 by the Govern­ment of Maharashtra with the so­cio-eco­nomic ob­jec­tive of pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment to hand­loom weavers of the state.

The pri­mary ob­jec­tive of the Cor­po­ra­tion is to en­sure the over­all wel­fare and growth of hand­loom ar­ti­sans and weavers. It as­sists hand­loom ar­ti­sans and weavers in en­hanc­ing their skills and

im­prov­ing their liveli­hoods through a gamut of ini­tia­tives. It sup­plies raw ma­te­rial, helps in dif­fer­ent tex­tile pro­cesses, un­der­takes pro­ject fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies, im­parts train­ing and buys fin­ished prod­ucts. HAND­LOOMS ARE A CHAN­NEL FOR FU­ELLING GROWTH “The aim of MSHC is to pre­serve our hand­looms. There is a grow­ing in­ter­est in hand­looms, or­ganic and cus­tom-made tex­tiles all over the world. With Maharashtra mak­ing huge progress in all ar­eas, its tex­tile in­dus­try has also wit­nessed in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion. Dur­ing this process, there has been a growth of power loom and mill units. How­ever, the tra­di­tion of hand­looms and, as a con­se­quence, the liveli­hood of hand­loom weavers has been ad­versely af­fected. Yet, hand­looms are niche prod­ucts and also an art, and the liveli­hood of the hand­loom weavers and ar­ti­sans needs to be sup­ported,” says Richa Bagla, IAS, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, MSHC.

To ad­dress this sit­u­a­tion, MSHC has taken up sev­eral ini­tia­tives, namely, im­prov­ing the tex­ture of tex­tiles, bring­ing in new colours, new colour com­bi­na­tions, value ad­di­tion through ad­di­tional de­sign el­e­ments such as print­ing, and pro­vid­ing mar­ket­ing sup­port. “MSHC is work­ing to­wards the preser­va­tion and pro­mo­tion of the re­gion’s cul­tural rich­ness through hand­looms. Nur­tur­ing hand­looms, in turn, nur­tures a chain of cen­turies-old ac­tiv­i­ties re­lated to it. MSHC is also work­ing at mak­ing tra­di­tional hand­looms more con­tem­po­rary, cre­at­ing an aware­ness of cot­ton and silk tex­tiles that are nat­u­ral prod­ucts and work­ing to­wards sus­tain­abil­ity, es­pe­cially in yarn and silk. We are work­ing with well-known de­sign­ers to cre­ate a con­tem­po­rary range. De­sign­ers and hand­loom con­nois­seurs have given us valu­able tech­ni­cal and de­sign in­puts which the weavers have in­cor­po­rated,” says Ms Bagla.

GOVERN­MENT GUIDE­LINES The ef­forts and ini­tia­tives of MSHC are in keep­ing with the guide­lines of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi who has pro­posed a 5F for­mula—farm, fi­bre, fab­ric, fash­ion and for­eign (ex­ports)—to help cot­ton pro­duc­ing farm­ers and the tex­tile in­dus­try. Mr Deven­dra Fad­navis, Maharashtra Chief Min­is­ter, who has also ini­ti­ated pol­icy re­forms to re­vive tex­tile in­dus­tries and, thus, the ru­ral econ­omy, has also ex­pressed the same views. He has said that tex­tiles—dis­missed as a ‘dy­ing in­dus­try’—have the po­ten­tial to off­set un­rest within the agri­cul­ture sec­tor, which has al­most 55 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion re­ly­ing on it for liveli­hood. The state govern­ment is tak­ing steps to pro­mote the tex­tile in­dus­try as the se­cond largest sec­tor that would help in the de­vel­op­ment of the ru­ral econ­omy. To­wards this end, the Tex­tile Depart­ment of the Govern­ment of Maharashtra has been en­cour­ag­ing lo­cal yarn spin­ning and weav­ing, and de­vel­op­ing a spec­trum of tex­tiles and ap­parel.

All im­ages cour­tesy: Maharashtra State Hand­looms Cor­po­ra­tion (MSHC)

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