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Carpet weavers and poverty crisis

A village name “Sarei Misrani” in Gopiganj Bhadhoi, situated 60 kms from Varanasi. The main occupation of this village once was agriculture and carpet/ rug weaving. Agricultural income was almost insufficient due to small agricultural lands and concentrated on weaving carpets for better income. Has population around 2300 with only 15-20% educated went to schools of them 10% have completed 10-12 standard. However, children go to school for primary education. Their yearly income is Rs. 6000-8000 in US dollars (136-182) that means monthly income is (12-15 US dollars). Whereas wheat floor price per kg is Rs.10, Rice Rs.10-12 per kg, Sugar- Rs.22 per kg. The income they have is too less for necessary survival. The income is from cattle milk, agriculture, and weaving.

I met Mr. Suresh Mani in this village and he along with his colleagues gave the information about village plight: 

 

Carpet weaving was once profitable to the weavers has reduced their income due to lack of demand of knotted and indo Nepal rugs. For the last 5-6 years the demand has dropped steeply caused by invasion of machine made carpets. One carpet of 12/60 or 9/54 quality  takes 6 months to weave. The wages is decided by the quality for example for 9/54 quality the wages is Rs.900-1000 per yard. Lack of demand has resulted to reduce wages and to work on contractor’s terms. The contractors are the intermediaries between the weavers and the exporters or wholesale buyers. Contractors enjoy their role in both circumstances during shortage or demand. Lack of demand and competitive market forced exporters and the traders to reduce wages, delay the wages, debiting for small-small mistakes.

 

Lack of demand has created extensive unemployment and discouraging weaving income that from 45-50 looms now has only 5-6 looms. Most of the technical master weavers have left to urban cities in search of jobs.  The weavers who left the villages to urban cities due to lack of other rural employment opportunities would mess up cities. Reaching urban cities only adds up urban poverty because they do not get the suitable jobs there too.          

Weaver showing his hut (click to enlarge)
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A carpet weaver from Bhagvanpur Chothar village showing his hut

Inside view of his house (click to enlarge)
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Inside veiw of his hut, cooks, sleeps and lives in same unfinished hut room

Village sarei misrani (click to enlarge)
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A village Sarei Misrani where humen and cattle live together

children in bhadhohi village(click to enlarge)
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Photo of Sarei Misrani children open to unhygenic living

Face covered woman, religion bound(click enlarge)
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Woman preparing vegitable leaves to cook. In front of cattle and its dung

Suresh Mani (Click to enlarge)
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Mr. Suresh Mani of Sarei Misrani Bhadhohi gave his views

What Mr. Suresh Mani and the villagers want to say about their plight:

 

  • Unemployment and insufficient income to sustain.
  • Serious electricity problem: They get electricity in the village only for 2-4 hours in 24 hours. This is unimaginable but true as other villages to claim the same problem. Weavers cannot weave more than 5-6 hours a day due to darkness in the weaving shed.
  • Improper housing facilities: Really, they live in dirty unhygienic condition you too can feel viewing the photos.

wrecked and damaged road
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Wrecked and damaged roads from gopiganj (Bhadhohi) to Sarei Misrani &other villages. never repaired

Weaver knotting gabbeh rug (click to enlarge)
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Wever knotting gabbeh carpet of 5/28 quality. They weave in small poor condition room unfit for work

oldman preparing to weave (click to enlarge)
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Working condition and the old man in bhadohi weaving center

Lal Chand yadav bhagnpur badhoi (Click to enlarge)
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Mr Lal Chand of Bhagvanpur Chothar Bhadhohi explains the plights

Warped loom for persian rugweaving(click enlarge)
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Warped loom in weaving shed&disastrous working conditionto weave.survival issue that forces them

woman weaving persian carpet(click to enlarge)
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Weaving shed and a woman weaving persian 9/54 carpet

Weaving sheds in villages are too small. Can see the picture even to stand is very difficult. Poverty does not let them even have to better working condition.

Working condition of a weaver(click to enlarge)
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Working condition is too bad not even enoughspace to sit . poverty prevents them having comfortable

Persian rug weaving(Click to enlarge)
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Partly woven persian rug on the rug

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Similar situation was explained by Mr. LalChand yadav of Bhagvanpur chothar in gopalganj, Bhadhohi (varanasi) which ahs population of 3000 and 10% are educated up to 10th, 30% middle school completed. Out of 500 looms only 25 looms are working. Major portion of weavers have left villages in search of jobs to Mumbai and cities. Position of roads and electricity is very bad and wrecked.

What I felt when visited the village:

 

  • Nirodh and other contraceptives have failed to take effect. Most of families have more than 2-3 children and half naked without proper food and dresses (see the photo of the village to understand more).
  • Illiteracy in the villages is too high they are unable to switch over to other profession.
  • Weaving rate is too low as there is no weaving union to control the wages. Cooperative houses and the weaving unions are must to get proper wages during lack of demand, however, at the end only demand and supply command.
  • Negligent attitude of the Government or bureaucratic red tapism you can feel seeing the wrecked and half-concreted roads. A village, which has 2-4 hours electricity, cannot come up and source their livelihood.
  • They live in very dirty atmosphere where animals and villagers live together. Many of the weavers live in one room in dirty condition. See the picture.
  • India has over one billion population, still lack of demand for carpets is because of improper research and marketing strategy, or major population cannot afford to buy a carpet. 80% of Indian rooms of the houses do not have rugs or carpets.
  • Lack of rural policies results villagers to flee to urban cities.
  • Poverty in such villages cannot be routed until systematized rural employment policies adopted by real researchers and the policy makers.
  • Absence of infrastructure and services to the villagers: Communicate ups and down and the market. They are master crafts men to know the market to proceed according to the market is important for them.
  • One of the villagers claimed once they got Rs.25000 to build a house but had to bribe 30% to the bureaucrat. Therefore, the corruption too plays role in poverty creation and elimination.
  • Introduction of subsidies .to bring the prices may become necessary if unemployment level grows to this level.  If not villages will be empty and the urban cities will become hell to live and breath.

 

Similar situation could be seen in the villages- Divarpur, Lohrakhas, Parvatpur, Joharpur, Jaikhaun, Sunkhari, Navalpur, Tikapur and Bhagwanpur.

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