Ancient to contemporary—The saga of Indian handloom sector

Kumar, Vivek ; Kumari, Pratishtha ; Yadav, Pooja ; Kumar, Madan


Handloom industry is among the oldest industries in India, dating back to Saraswati-Indus Civilization, and various archaeological findings and ancient texts manifest its existence. The handloom sector is the second largest employment provider after agriculture, and accounts for nearly 15% of the cloth production in India. The uniqueness and versatility in weaves and designs of textiles from various regions of the country illustrate the rich tradition of India. Indian textiles gained prominence during ancient and medieval times; however, the colonial period destroyed the handloom industry and weavers. Britishers strategically broke the handloom industry by exporting raw material from India and selling finished textile products back to India, which consequently affected the Indian economy. The significance of the Indian handloom was recognized later and became a huge part of the freedom struggle, thus establishing the Swadeshi Movement in 1905 for revival of the Indian Handloom. In this paper, the journey of the Indian handlooms, the current scenario, the challenges, and the policy measures implemented to revamp the sector have been discussed.




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