Grassroots Reachout & Networking in India on Trade & Economics (GRANITE)
Rajasthan Fifth Outreach Meeting
Jalore District, Rajasthan, September 28, 2005
CUTS Centre for Consumer Action, Research & Training (CUTS-CART) convened the fifth Outreach Meeting under the GRANITE Project in an active association with Sankalp, a local non-governmental organisation (NGO), at the Shakti Dharamshala, Tehsil (an administrative set up in a district) Ahore, District Jalore, Rajasthan, on September 28, 2005. This was the third meeting, which primarily focused on Textile & Handloom Sector.
The participants of the meeting represented the groups of handloom weavers, representatives from the local civil society organisations (CSOs), teachers, members of the local panchayati raj (local self-governance) institution, members of self-help groups (SHGs) and community leaders. The participants were 110 in number and 75 percent of the total participation consisted of females.
The prime objectives of the meeting were:
- to gather existing perceptions at the grassroots with regard to the issues related to agriculture sector in purview of the globalisation and the World Trade Organisation (WTO);
- to identify the anti-poor impact of the existing policies; and
- to assemble all the stakeholders to a common platform whereby they could share their present livelihood concerns.
Jalore district is surrounded by Barmer district on the Northwest, Sirohi district on the Southeast, Pali district on the Northeast and Banaskantha district of Gujarat on the Southwestern part of Rajasthan. The total area of the district is 10,640-sq. km. (3.11 percent of the State). The district is composed of two sub-divisions viz. Jalore and Bhinmal, covering five tehsils viz. Ahore, Jalore, Bhinmal, Raniwara and Sanchore, which covers seven-blocks/panchayat samitis (administrative unit over a cluster of villages).
The climate of the district is very dry with large extreme of temperature and low rainfall. The average maximum and minimum temperature in the district are 40.9 and 4 degree Celsius respectively. Average annual rainfall in the region is 41.9mm.
The number of large and medium scale running units are two, small scale units is 2,550, industrial areas are four and main existing industries are – butter, cement, engineering and machinery manufacturing, granite slabs and tiles, handloom cloth, leather juties, oil mills, marble stone cutting and polishing, mustard seed crushing, skimmed milk and powder.
According to Rajasthan Human Development Report (HDR) 2002, the district is ranked twenty-ninth in the state, the total inhabited villages are 665, blocks are seven and towns (class I to IV) are only three in the district. The average land holding (hectare) 1995/96 is 6.03 percent and the net sown area (1998/99) is 62.2 percent, where as the gross irrigated area (1998/99) is 37.2 percent. The total employment in farm sector is 84.6 percent and agriculture labour is 13.6 percent. The percentage of employment of farmers, hunters, fishermen, loggers and related works is 84.4 percent.
Ahore is the tehsil headquarter in Jalore District. Handloom and leather juti work is prevalent here. Major population of the tehsil especially the backward class community’s livelihood is depended upon handlooms and leather juti work. Agriculture sector is not so much prevalent here due to low level of ground water and uncertainty of rainwater.
Highlights of the Discussion
Madan Giri Goswami, CUTS Centre for Human Development (CUTS-CHD), Chittorgarh briefed the objectives of the Outreach Meeting to the participants.
R K Sharma, CUTS, Jaipur instigated the aims and objectives of GRANITE project. He also explained reasons for identifying the agriculture, textile and handlooms sectors under the project. He appreciated overwhelming response of the female by participating in large number in the meeting.
Jagdish Chandra Rathore, Women & Child Development Project Officer presented his views on issues related to handlooms.
Shashi Kanwar, Member, District Council appreciated CUTS’ endeavour in organising outreach meetings in various parts of the country and expressed her belief that such events will certainly be helpful in improving the living standard of the handloom weavers and juti making families.
Voice from the grassroots
Key Issues Emerged from the discussion:
- Due to present trend of development, our traditional sources of income are dead. We used to make Juties, but now the fashion of hand made Juti is over. New electric machines have come to make these Juties.
- The females do the embroidery work on clothes and merchants from other parts of the state come here to purchase these. These merchants are making high profits of their hard work and skills.
- The closing of income through traditional handlooms and handicraft work, there is no other option remaining with us except looking for another source of income.
- Due to lack of adequate information, we are not able to access an appropriate market and get satisfactory return of our hard work. We are also completely unaware of the changes taking place in the national and international market. Now, the handlooms have not much strength to survive.
- Rassi and Dari making work is being done in nearby villages and these products are receiving good response from the market.
- We are not aware of any policy of the government, which has been formulated to ensure avavibility of leather and other raw materials at subsidised price. Though the government has provided machines, but not made any suitable arrangements for sufficient raw material.
- Five persons are able to make a bedsheet in a day for which they get only Rs 20/- per head.
- The loaning systems are too complicated and are very discouraging for the weavers. Banking institutions do not support/assist in opening bank accounts for SHGs. The level of literacy is also very low. Bank accounts are also very less. When there is no saving then what to do with the bank accounts. The cooperative societies are also very corrupt.
- Mungfali, moth, bajra, jeera, gwanr are the main crops cultivated in this area. The agriculture is mainly depended upon the rainwater.
- The market slum is since last five to six years. The cotton fibre has also become very costly.
- The dearth of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the district is another reason of their backward situation. If more NGOs unite to work then the situation can get better.
- We get good profit only when we sell our product to an individual customer. In bulk selling the rates goes very low.
- We had never heard about World Trade Organisation (WTO), Agreement on Textile & Clothing (ATC), Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) and globalisation etc.
- The handloom community also lacks in professional unity. Few persons from handloom community are in Delhi but they do not provide for their community residing in villages.
- The District Industry Centre (DIC) is also not functioning actively.
- It would be better if some persons from outside establish industrial units in their area so that their livelihood could be ensured.