The handloom industry is one of India's oldest industries. Egypt was the first place where Indian handlooms were discovered. Dyed and cotton garments were later discovered in the Indus Valley Civilization -Mohenjo Daro. The traditional handloom style is one of the oldest types and has been described in Vedic literature. Indian weaving styles have a long history that predates imperialism and colonisation. Handwoven natural materials such as jute, cotton, khadi, and silk were used.
Although the sector was reduced to ashes during colonial authority, it saw a massive resurgence after independence during the planning era. Today, the industry employs around 10 million people and accounts for more than 23% of the total textile output in the country.
India produces 5% of its fabric through the organised sector, 20% through the handloom sector, 15% through the knitting sector, and 60% through the decentralised power loom sector.
The decentralised power loom sector is critical to the Indian textile industry's survival. India has around 19.42 lakh power looms, which weave nearly 19,000 million metres of fabric and employ more than 7 million people. The business today manufactures a wide range of fabrics, including grey, printed fabric, coloured fabric, cotton fabric, and diverse blends of cotton, synthetic, and other fibres. The country exports commodities worth Rs. 44,000 million to countries such as the United States, France, Germany, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, and Italy.
Although the expansion of the power loom sector was modest at first, it has now begun to accelerate. The number of shuttle-less looms has nearly doubled to nearly 50,000, with approximately 35,000 of these looms functioning in the decentralised sector.
Reason for the Transmission of Indian Garment Industry from Handloom to power loom
Despite the fact that handloom weaving is practised in several states across the country, including Bengal, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and parts of Uttar Pradesh, the handloom sector in India faces an uncertain future, with little government support and a lack of reform efforts.
It is worth mentioning that power looms have grown substantially in India for the reasons listed below.
1. Indian consumers are constantly price-conscious: Power looms began producing precise and similar replicas of handloom products at a fraction of the price. Unlike the handloom industry, which is always in the short run, they had a solid handle on their production in terms of variety, a super-fast manufacturing process, and endless alternatives in terms of colours, quality, and materials, allowing them to transition from the short run to the long run quickly. Indian consumers, who are constantly price-conscious, readily embraced this move.
This resulted in a fall in demand for handloom items and a significant increase in demand for power loom products. Unlike Europeans and Americans, Indians are always looking for a better deal rather than superior quality and workmanship.
2. The use of crop yielded fabrics in Handloom: Local natural fibres such as cotton, linen, and silk are used in the handloom industry. With the severe change in weather in the Indian subcontinent, and cotton and silk production being reduced over the last few decades owing to drought and flood. Power looms, which use a combination of synthetic and natural fibres, and bulk imports of natural fibres such as cotton from China and linen from Europe, on the other hand, were unaffected by the paucity of raw materials in India.
The power loom industry is critical to the Indian textile industry. Today, the handloom market in India is one of the most elastic in the country, with an unpredictable and never-ending shift in equilibrium, always sliding to a new low number due to the following reasons:
Close replacements are available in the form of power loom goods.
Handloom products are now seen as aesthetic, non-functional luxury items that are no longer required.
The elasticity of demand has increased as the time horizon has increased, as consumers have switched totally to alternatives or now purchase handloom only on rare occasions.
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