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)