Handloom weavers protest in Varanasi against Chinese imitations flooding Indian markets

November 6th, 2008 - 9:38 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh

Varanasi , Nov 6 (ANI): Scores of handloom weavers took to streets on Thursday in Varanasi , famous for its world renowned Banarasi sarees, against the cheap quality Chinese imitation products flooding the market.

The Banarasi saree, named after Varanasi ‘’s old name, Banaras , is the city’’s most famous export item.

The Banarasi saree that became popular during the Mughal era, is a cottage industry for millions of people around Varanasi .

The Banarsi saree industry has also been adversely affected due to the import of cheap Chinese fabric, official reports say.

Powerloom owners have been producing cheap imitation products at various places, helped by computer-assisted copying of designs. According to protestors cheap imitation products are doing roaring business while highly skilled weavers who produce the original product suffer.

When weavers had less work, some women weavers shifted to zardozi but there too their livelihood prospects were dimmed by the import of a Chinese machine.

The weavers lamenting loss in business due to imitations of the Banarasi sarees being sold at less prices, said they were forced to take to streets to make their pleas heard to the authorities.

Earlier we used to do good business in Banarasi sarees, but slowly it started falling, because of the Chinese sarees which are being sold at lesser price than our sarees. Banarasi sarees require more labour, money and expensive raw material, but people are selling imitation of Banarasi sarees in cheap quality Chinese material, so our business is being affected badly. After facing lot of hardship we have today decided to take to streets as for how long can we go on living in penury? said Razia Begum, a protester.

The weavers also want the government to award patent to the Banarasi sarees, in order to save them from cheap imitations.

The weavers also sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh with their list of demands.

The business has seen a major slump in last few years, forcing many weavers to adopt alternative livelihood like working as construction worker, or pulling rickshaw or migrating to other cities in search of work.

According to data available through Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working with the weavers, the number of people employed in the once thriving industry has reduced from around 700,000 people to 250, 000 people only. (ANI)

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