The government plans to facilitate loans at concessional interest rates for artisans and weavers belonging to the Scheduled Caste community, with Textiles and Social Justice ministries inking a pact in this regard today. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between The Development Commissioner (Handlooms) and National Scheduled Caste Finance and Development Corporation.
The two parties will also collaborate for capacity building including skill upgradation and economic development of Scheduled Caste (SC) weavers and their families and organise exhibitions, fairs for providing marketing assistance to enhance their earnings. According to the pact, they will promote production and marketing of high value quality handloom products at block level cluster in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Odisha, among others.
“This endeavour shall enable scheduled caste weavers to sharpen their skills for production and marketing of high value quality handloom products and better marketing linkages and therefore to have more income,” an official statement said.
The pact was signed in the presence of Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot here. The DC (Handlooms) and National Scheduled Caste Finance and Development Corporation come under the Ministry of Textiles and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, respectively.
“There was a time in India where ministers did not talk to each other and the conflict between ministers used to become front page news,” Irani said. The collaboration between the two ministries was proof of how various arms of the NDA government work in conjunction with each other, she added.
The Minister informed that from 1 April, 2017, Schedule Caste artisans and weavers are being provided 75 per cent subsidy on taking up courses from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and National Institute of Open Studies (NIOS), to extend quality education to those belonging to backward communities.
Handloom sector is a part of textile industry, the second largest economic activity after agriculture. There are around 44 lakh handloom weavers in the country out of which 3.90 lakh are scheduled caste weavers.