Why call weavers artisans, and not artists, asks Shyam Benegal

National Handloom Awards 2012-13, instituted by Desi Dharma Samsthe, a popular brand which aims to felicitate individuals and organisations striving to promote the handloom sector, were presented to five artists here on Sunday.

Film maker Shyam Benegal, who presented the awards, wondered why handloom weavers were called artisans, not artists, even though a lot of art was involved in weaving. “Is it just because they do not stand in front of the canvas that they are called artisans? Why this discrimination,” he said and called upon people to promote traditional weaving.

The awards, which carry a purse of Rs 50,000, a Gandhi plaque and a citation, were given to Sangappa Basappa Mante from Kodekal in Yadgir district, Shivshankar Eshwarappa Mudalagi from Bagalkot district, Jagada Rajappa from Hyderabad, and M V Chandrasekar and U Ravikiran, both from Bengaluru.

Mante, an octogenarian who has been in the handloom field for decades, urged the government to come support the industry so that it could sustain itself in the days to come.

Former Director General and Inspector General of Police Ajai Kumar Singh was present on the occasion.

Signature campaign

Handloom weavers from across Karnataka have launched an online signature campaign at ‘http:bit.do/foth’ by writing an open letter to the prime minister seeking the better enforcement of the Handloom Reservation Act 1985.

“Sir, are you sure what you are wearing is handwoven? We are not sure. We have checked and found that nearly 70 per cent of what is being sold as khadi and handloom in the country is imitation fabric produced by the powerloom.

“Thus, the money that you, the Indian consumer, pays does not reach the handloom weaver. We feel cheated and helpless. But sir, you are not helpless. You have a law that empowers you to punish the guilty. That law is called the Handloom Reservation Act 1985....” the letter reads.

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