Hand weaving formed a part of socio-cultural tradition of the peoples of Manipur which has a rich cultural heritage. Handloom industry in the State, which has a legacy of unrivalled craftsmanship, is spread throughout the length and breadth of the State. It is a household cottage industry with decentralized set-up. In terms of employment generation, it is next only to agriculture for the womenfolk of the State. The traditional skill of handloom weaving is not only a status symbol for the women-folk, but it is an indispensable aspect of socio-economic life in Manipur.
The National Handloom Census, 1995-96 reported that Manipur has 4.62 lakh handloom workers (4.25 lakh weavers, 0.29 preparatory, 7,488 dyers & hired which is 2nd position among the top States of the country, 2.81 lakh looms which is 4th position among top States, consuming 12.196 lakh Kg. of yarn per month which is 7th position among top States and produced 96.07 lakh meters of handloom fabrics which is also 7th among top States of the country. About 70% of the total weavers are outside the Co-operative fold and the remaining 30% are under Co-operative fold and. Therefore, a large number of weavers are self earners.
n 2011-12, the Department of Commerce & Industries is envisaged to further broaden and intensify the development of the handloom industry and safe guard the health care of the weavers with impregnation of additional components of the existing programmes/projects while, at the same time, providing adequate funds for State share contribution required to be implemented in the Centrally Sponsored Schemes of the Ministry of Textiles.
Thrust Area for the year 2011-12:
(i) Health care of Weavers:
About 100% weavers are women who have generally been ignored in their health, perhaps, in most cases and instances. The Govt. of India has given more emphasis on this scheme for safeguarding the health of the weavers. The annual target for enrolment of the weavers under the scheme has gradually increased to 50, 000. Thus, the contribution of State share has to be taken care of.
(ii) Life Insurance & Education:
Most of the weavers are the bread earner of the family. Thus, the life of the weaver is too important for weaver family. The Govt. of India introduced the Mahatma Gandhi Bunkar Bima Yojana which is implemented through the LIC of India to provide enhanced insurance cover to the handloom weavers in the case of natural as well as accidental death and in cases of total or partial disability and also scholarship to the children of parents who are covered under the scheme. Thus, it is important to make necessary awareness, publicity, supervision, monitoring in all the procedures right from the enrolment to the settlement of claims so that the weavers and their family are not suffered unnecessary.
(iii) Handloom Development:
In view of the growing competitiveness in the textile industry both in the national and international markets, a growing need has been felt for adopting a focused yet flexible and holistic Cluster Approach in the sector to facilitate handloom weavers to meet the challenges of a globalize environment. Thus, it is to focus on formation of handloom weavers’ groups as a visible production group in a selected Handloom Clusters for becoming self –sustainable.
(iv) Market Promotion:
Merchandising and Marketing have been recognized as being central to the growth and development of the handloom industry. Domestic marketing is important for providing linkage between the producer and the consumer to promote for marketing and sales of handloom products both inside and outside State. Therefore, strengthening of State Level Handloom Organizations for improvement in the Marketing & Export of handloom items, organization festive fairs, exhibitions, etc would facilitate in the promotion of marketing of handloom products.