By Prerna Mishra: Handicrafts and handloom sector, a major driver of economic and social growth which employs over 11 million artisans, craftpersons and weavers etc, is all set to get a big boost from the West Bengal government.
The state government of West Bengal is looking to expedite the implementation of all state and central schemes in order to promote handicraft and handloom sector comprising more than 12 lakh artisans and weavers. The sector occupies second position after agriculture in providing livelihood to the people.
As per the Handloom Census 2010, the state accounts for over 5.5 lakh handicraft artisans and 6.65 lakh handloom weavers. The sectors primarily belong to economically and socially weaker sections of the society in the interior of the country.
In attempts to provide artisans and weavers a level paying field with other sectors and providing a unique identity, the West Bengal government has also started an initiative to provide photo identity cards for artisans and weavers. Financial lending from banks has also been extended through artisans credit cards and weavers credit cards.
Other facilities being given to artisans and weavers include health care facilities and insurance for themselves and maximum three dependents for nominal premium under Rajiv Gandhi Shilpa Swastha Bima Yojana Scheme.
So far, West Bengal government has developed 27 clusters, while 16 clusters were underway and another 51 projects are in queue.
Furthermore, Commerce and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma had recently invited support from corporate sector and others via new technologies in order to empower the artisans engaged in handloom and handicraft sector. He addressed the same while inaugurating 'Hastkala Conclave' held recently in the national capital.
During the exhibition, which acted as a introductory and beneficiary platform for the corporates and the workers, the Textile Ministry invited more than 400 corporates and industrial houses to extend support handloom and handicraft sectors wherein over 350 of them, including IDBI Bank, Hindustan Fibre, Metro Hospitals and ITC, have expressed their inclination towards the move.