Weaving wheel stops spinning in Uttar Pradesh

      Weavers are exploring alternative opportunities to make both ends meet in Gorakhpur, the traditional weaving wheel having come to a halt. Once seen as the symbol of freedom struggle and Gandhian values of self-reliance, the traditional charkha, (spinning wheel), appears to have spun out of economic relevance for the weavers. The weavers are paid as little as Rupees 12 for four and a half kilogram of spun cotton, which is not enough for their needs. The women weavers are in a quandary, not possessing any other skill. "We get 12 rupees but what do you get in 12 rupees? We can't even buy medicines with that much of money. We do this because we have been doing it since our childhood and we do not know how to do anything else,' said Shaheedun Nisha, a weaver. The number of weavers has also come down sharply, as most have either migrated to cities for jobs or taken up some other work. "There were at least 1500-1600 weavers here. They were weaving but now the work has stopped, people have moved out. What would have they done? There is no income. The expenses have risen but our earnings had not, so people have mostly gone out of here," said, Azizul Haq, another weaver. The weavers have to rely on the moneylenders for the raw material or even loans to buy it, on high interests. Some land in perpetual debt. Also women workers continue to work in such a situation as most of them, are not allowed to work outside the vicinity of their houses. "They are suffering, because the income is inadequate. Most of the women are in 'purdah', they can't go out of the house to work. And moneylenders, exploit this, they take undue advantage of this. These women think that even if they earn 20 rupees they are earning something atleast," said Mohammed Aslam Ansari, coordinator, weavers committee. With automation running the industrial production, the weavers realise the limitations of their spinning wheel. The weavers also complain of government apathy, they say that they haven't had any help. The weavers also said that, the government had set up the Ram Sahai Commission to study the condition of Muslim weavers, in 1972, but the recommendations haven't been implemented.

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