National Handloom Day is celebrated on August 7 every year to remember the launch of the Swadeshi Movement in 1905. The movement strongly encouraged indigenous industries and the spirit of Swadeshi, which included handloom weavers as well. In 2015, the Government of India designated the day as National Handloom Day. Speaking on the occasion, Hon’ble PM had underlined, “Handlooms can be a tool to fight poverty, just as the Swadeshi movement was a tool in the struggle for freedom.”

The textile industry is one of the largest sources of employment generation in the country, with over 45 Mn people employed directly, including a large number of women and the rural population. As per the Fourth All India Handloom Census 2019-20, India has 35,22,512 handloom workers, out of which over 70% of weavers and allied workers are female. Similarly, out of the total 31.45 Lakh households involved in handloom activities, 88.7% of weaver households are in rural areas. Thus, the handloom sector is an important medium for empowering women and rural India.

India has always been known for its high-quality handloom, and as a result, its products were exported even in the 5th century BCE. Today, India’s textile products, including handlooms and handicrafts, are exported to over 100 countries, with USA, EU and UK accounting for approximately 47% of India’s textile and apparel exports. The handloom industry mainly exports fabrics, bed linen, table linen, toilet and kitchen linen, towels, curtains, cushions and pads, tapestries and upholstery's, carpets, floor coverings, etc. The major importing countries of Handloom products from India are USA, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Netherlands and UAE.

As per the Victoria and Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design, the earliest surviving Indian cotton threads date to around 4000 BC, and dyed fabrics from India are documented as far back as 2500 BC.The designs of Indian handlooms have been influenced by the geographic, availability of local resources, religious, and social customs of a region. Being a diverse country, India has a rich tradition of handlooms. 65 handloom products and 6 product logos are registered under the Geographical Indications of Goods Act, which was enacted for better protection. Different parts of India have distinct styles. Some of them are Bagh, Batik, Chanderi and Maheshwari of Madhya Pradesh; Baranasi Brocades, Zardozi, Chikankari of Uttar Pradesh; Baluchari, Tangail, Jamdani of West Bengal; Kasargod, Kannur, Kuthampully of Kerala; Pochampally, Gadwal of Telangana; Patola, Bhujodi, Ajrakh, Bandhej, Tangaliya, Mata Ni Pachedi, Ashavali, and Kutch and Kathiawar embroidery from Gujarat, and traditional designs from Assam and Manipur like the Phenek and Tongam. Some of the techniques used in Indian handloom are weaving, embroidery, dyeing, printing, etc.

Government’s Initiatives to Promote Indian Handlooms

Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, is implementing various schemes and campaigns, including Vocal for Local, for the welfare of handloom weavers and for increasing their income.

Some of the prominent central schemes are National Handloom Development Programme; Raw Material Supply Scheme; National Handicraft Development Programme; Comprehensive Handicrafts Cluster Development Scheme. Through these schemes, financial assistance is provided to eligible handloom and handicraft agencies / weavers /artisans for raw materials, procurement of upgraded looms & accessories, toolkits, solar lighting units, construction of work shed, product & design development, technical and common infrastructure, marketing of handloom products, concessional loans under weavers’ MUDRA scheme and social security etc. Schemes like One District One Product are also promoting handlooms. Additionally, the Ministry is organising skill upgradation programmes under Scheme for Capacity Building in Textile Sector (SAMARTH) scheme.

As of 2022, the Ministry of Textiles has provided financial assistance of INR 76.6 Cr to 91 Handloom Clusters. Under the Hatkargha Sambardhan Sahayata, the government bore 90% of the cost of looms and accessories of 1,109 weavers. Skill upgradation training was imparted to 2,107 handloom workers under the Handloom Clusters of the National Handloom Development Programme.  Assistance amounting to INR 18.49 Cr has been released for 141 marketing events, and INR 10.40 Cr has been released for various activities sanctioned to Mega Handloom Clusters under Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme. Similarly, 102.05 Lakh kg of yarn was supplied under the transport subsidy component, 73.79 Lakh kg of yarn was supplied under-price subsidy component, and a total of 175.84 Lakh kg of yarn was supplied under Raw Material Supply Scheme (RMSS).


The multipronged efforts to boost production and then demand in domestic and international markets are showing results.

As per the data issued by the Ministry of Textiles, India’s textile export is on the rise. India scaled its highest-ever exports tally at $44.4 Bn in Textiles and Apparel, including Handicrafts in FY 2021-22, indicating a substantial increase of 41% and 26% over corresponding figures in FY 2020-21 and FY 2019-20, respectively. It is expected that Indian textile exports will grow to $100 billion by 2030.

With the increase in demand for the textile and handlooms, the income of weaver households will improve, and the women, who form the backbone of the weaving community, will be empowered. Deliberating on this aspect in 1920, Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Revival of hand-spinning and hand-weaving will make the largest contribution to the economic and moral regeneration of India. If the millions are to be saved from starvation, they must be enabled to reintroduce spinning in their homes, and every village must repossess its own weaver.”

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