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This village thanks Aamir, Kareena but. . .

Last updated on: April 26, 2011 09:35 IST

This village thanks Aamir, Kareena but. . .

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Shashikant Trivedi in New Delhi/Pranpur (Chanderi)

December 2010 for Kamlesh Koli's family in Pranpur brought fortune.

Bollywood celebrities Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor visited their small house to promote their film 3 Idiots.

A little support has raised hopes for Kamlesh who now visits Mumbai often.

Rajeshwari, his daughter, who served dinner to the star duo, now feels safer as she has a pucca house to live in, courtesy Amir Khan.

Randeep, another Chanderi sari weaver, and his family thank Aamir and Kareena for introducing them to the world. But sadly, other weavers are not so fortunate.

Most of them no longer weave saris and are looking for other jobs like rolling bidis.

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Image: The 3 Idiots poster

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This village thanks Aamir, Kareena but. . .

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An inaccessible banking system, paucity of funds, rising cost of silk and cotton and poor marketing links could not be addressed by Aamir's visit.

Weavers like Tikaram Koli, who quit sari weaving due to rising silk prices and progressing myopia, find themselves isolated.

"I am dependent on my daughters, who roll bidis and arrange funds for my medication and food. I have poor eyesight, I cannot weave saris anymore," he says.

His eldest daughter, Rajeshwari, will become a commerce graduate this year but spends hours rolling bidis. Her two younger sisters also assist her to make ends meet.

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Image: A weaver.
Photographs: Photograph: Sreeram Selvaraj
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This village thanks Aamir, Kareena but. . .

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A weaver in Pranpur earns about Rs 1,000 for a sari which he weaves for master weavers or a co-operative society. Most of the weavers cannot afford raw materials like silk and cotton.

A weaver needs the finest variety of China-made silk to weave a Chanderi sari. Since Indian silk is not durable and rough, it has no takers in Chanderi or Pranpur.

"Indian silk is thick in comparison to China-made silk," says Tikaram, adding, "I cannot afford China silk at Rs 3,200 per kg as against Rs 1,500 per kg last year."

On the other hand, weavers like Randeep, Kamlesh and Hukum Koli are planning to churn out more saris after their meeting with Aamir and Kareena.

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Image: A chanderi sari.

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This village thanks Aamir, Kareena but. . .

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"Aamir supported me in getting a marketing link in Mumbai. I often visit there and earn more now," says Kamlesh Koli.

In Pranpur, Chanderi and other nearby towns, the number of looms has dwindled to 4,000. 

There were 24 weavers' co-operative societies, of which four are closed and six are under liquidation process.

The Chanderi Bunkar Sahkari Samiti, the first co-operative society in Chanderi established in 1946, has closed due to financial constraints. Subsidy on equipment and interest subsidy on working capital was not of much help to weavers.

"Weavers even cannot afford Rs 50 per annum premium for health insurance scheme," says a government insider.

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Image: A chanderi sari.

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Central government has recently floated the Industrial Infrastructure Upgradation Scheme  for Chanderi and nearby areas like Pranpur, Fatehabad and Ramnagar.

However, weavers' issues are many more.

"Who will ensure jobs to our children if they stick to sari weaving? Who will ensure that raw material will feed our looms forever?" asks Ramesh Koli.

Under IIUS, government wants to create infrastructure through private players.

Yet, there was no taker for the tender floated some days ago for the purpose.

"We have floated a rebid for the project and hope to create necessary infrastructure for weavers of Chanderi," says IIUS managing director Mahesh Gulati.

The scheme may help weavers to a certain degree, if it is implemented in time. A prompt action plan is necessary before this village fades into oblivion.


Image: Chanderi saris.

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