Telangana's Narayanpet was once home to many weavers and known for its exquisite silk sarees. But rising raw material cost and introduction of powerlooms changed that. Recently, there has been a resurgence as weavers are now aiming to be their own bosses.
This, thanks to intervention by Chitrika Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which works with the weavers.
"Narayanpet is a famous handloom cluster in Telangana and has an important place in weaving in the Deccan plateu. The weaving in Narayanpet is closely related to weaving in Karnataka and Maharashtra and it is known for very exquisite and interesting silk sarees and also a three-shuttle weave in the pallu," Switha, the founder of Chitrika tells TNM.
Chitrika set up two worksheds and set up ten handlooms in each of them. They also streamlined the weaving and the sale of the sarees.
"Whenever we go and start working in a new handloom or handicraft cluster, we collectivise them and form them into a legal business entity. Currently we work on producer companies, which are part of Companies Act, so it has a value system of cooperatives but at the same time, there is more transperancy and ethics under Companies Act," Switha says.
The weavers enroll themselves as members of the producer companies, and also become shareholders. From the members, a board of directors are elected, who form part of the governing structure.
"These producer companies have facilities to make profits, give it back to the companies, and in turn to the shareholders. Based on their work, their decision making powers are also determined. So it is completely managed by the weavers," Switha says.
This intervention has benefited the weavers, who say that their profits have increased and are looking forward to a brighter future. Chitrika hopes to work with 250 weavers in Narayanpet and at least double their income in the coming years, so that the weavers, who are mostly women, take the baton of reviving the existing Narayanpet clusters.
Watch the video below.