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Handloom weavers to be included in rural scheme

There is a move to include handloom weavers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). MGNREGS is a rural job scheme. Under the scheme, workers are given a standard wage in the range of Rs 159 to Rs 241 a day, for 100 days a year.

Even though weavers are not unskilled workers, they earn much less than what an unskilled worker does. But they have refused to give up on this profession only because of family tradition and the love for the art. However, economically the weavers belong to the bottom of the pyramid, and the average daily income for many of them often falls below the mandatory wage provided to unskilled workers under MGNREGS.

At present, only silk farming from the textile segment is covered under the scheme. The textile ministry, however, has been seeking extension of MGNREGS to the entire textile and garment sector. Such a move can help tackle labor shortage in the sector, especially in the more labor-intensive garment factories. Most importantly, even unskilled workers could be given proper training, which they can benefit from.

The handloom sector provides employment to 4.33 million people across 2.38 million handlooms in the country and accounts for 11 per cent of India’s textile production.