An Exhibition on Plural Ideas of Justice
The Power of the Loom in Times of Gloom and Doom by Maulika Hegde
In 2020, a few days before Handloom Day, the Indian Government scrapped the All India Handloom Board. A sector that has survived on the generosity of Swadeshi aesthetes and government sops then found itself in a scarier, more precarious position. The Board operated as a forum for stakeholders of the industry to interact directly with the government. Scrapping it meant that a chance to be heard got taken away.
For a weaver, the financial distress is currently insurmountable — there is a decline in demand and they are experiencing reduced income levels and a steep rise in debt. The cultural loss is incalculable – the loss of a craft takes place because the pay is unsustainable and there is a large-scale exodus towards better paying jobs.
Corporate benefactors have stepped in to set up portals which allow for consumers to deal directly with the handloom weavers with the guarantee of a fair price. The absence of a middleman is also empowering for the weaver, financially and creatively. Saree influencers on social media promote these fabrics that carry our heritage at no cost, thus significantly reducing marketing costs for the weaver. The digital age also carries the promise of collaboration and innovation, thus creating a parallel network for handloom weavers to tell their story.
(Disclaimer : The artwork in the exhibition represents the views and the work of artist alone)