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CHAPTER V

HANDLOOM INDUSTRY OF BEGUMPUR CENTRE

Begumpur is famous for its handloom products for a considerable

period of time. It is a handloom centre about 23 kilometres away

from Calcutta and is situated in the south-east corner of the

district of Hooghly in West Bengal. The centre is linked by

Howrah-Bardhaman Chord section of Eastern Railway and by three

national high ways. The nearest town is Serampur (sub-divisional

head office) which is 12 kilometres off the centre. it is a

growing area with high density of population. It is not devoid of

the facilities of modern livelihood. Benefits of electric supply

were made available to this area more than twenty five years ago.

Serampur, Chanditala, and Uttarpara are neighbouring buisness

centres with which the centre is linked by roads transport.

HISTORY :

Handloom industry first grew in Begumpur village and then spread

gradually to the neighbouring villages. The history of Begumpur

is traced in the following lines.

In his book 'Hooghly Zellar Itihaas 0 Banga Saraaj* (The history

of Hooghly district and Bengali Society) (1968 edition), Sudhir

Kumar Mitra has revealed an ancient history of this village in

course of discussion of the origin of the name of 'Begumpur’. He

writes that according to one school of opinion it was named

Begumpur during the time of the Pathans. As per Sultan

Giasuddin’s order Hazrat Sahsufi attacked this area and


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established muslim glory after defeating the small landlords in

battle and in course of time the name of this place became

Begumpur. He also writes that according to another school, during

the regin of king Akbar when the 'Peer' family of Furfura Sarif

came from Delhi to Furfura seven hundred muslim families came to

Furfara with them. Subsequently a few of these families settled

in the area and the place was named Begumpur. Any one opinion may

be true, but the fact isvthat the village and its handloom

industry is at least 200-250 years old. During the British reign

this area was ruled by 'zamindar* families of the neighbourhood

but whoever might be the ruler there was not much difference in

the occupation or economic conditions of the people.

TERRITORIAL COVERAGE :

Though Begumpur village Is the hub of handloom in the area it is

not concentrated in the village only. Some neighbouring villages

of Chanditala Block 1 and II and of Singur Block also contribute

to 'Begumpur handloom’. The geographical area of Chanditala Block


-I Is approximately 92.16 Sq.K.H.,Chanditala Block II is 81.7

Sq.K.H.and Singur Block is 174.7 Sq. K.H. About 40* of the area

of Chanditala Block I, 40* of Chanditala Block II and 20* of the

area of Singur Block come under the perview of the handloom


Gharana of Begumpur. Ghanrana or Arang (as the term goes in local

usage) signifies a particular type of handloom product relating

to some area. Besides Begumpur, the handloom products of the


weavers of the neighbouring villages go by the name of Begumpur

Arang or Begumpur handloom. Following is the list of villages


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< with population) which contribute to Begumpur handloom

TABLE NO. 5 . 1

Vi 1lages under Begumpur hand loom centre

SI. Name of villages Sub-division Block Populatii


No. (1981 cen

1. . Begumpur Serampur Chanditala II 7,007

2. Kharsarai t? ft
4,424

3. Choto Tajpur tt t» 1,355

4. Madhabpur tf ft
2,709

5. Baksha if tt
4,497

6. Sanka tt tt
959

7. Tisha tt ft
2,997

8. Kapasharia tr ff
3,359

9. Sahana 9t It
1,302

10. Pairagacha tf ff
3,871

11. Janai tf tt
8,729

12. Bara Tajpur (Purba) n ff


4,794

13. Panchghara tf tf
4,778

14. Adan tt tt
3,089

15. Jaikrishnapur ft tt
3,143

16. Nai ty tf tf
4,652

17. Gangadharpur tt
Chanditala I 5,830

18. Kumrogore tt ff
n. a.

19. Hozaghata ft ft
n. a.

20. Jangalpara ft tf
5,687

contd
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....contd.

21. Manirampur n n n. a.

22. Haripur tr n n.a.

23. Krishnarampur tt tv n. a.

24. Moshat ti tv n.a.

25. Balarambati tt Singur n. a.

26. Hirzapur-Bankipur ft ff n. a.

27. Bora v» t» n. a.

Note: n.a. means not available.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AREA :

4016 of Chanditala Block I and 40% of Chanditala Block II of

Serampur Sub-division and 20% of Singur Block of Chandannagar

Sub-division, as mentioned above, comes under the perview of

Begumpur hand loom area.

The demographic characteristics of the three blocks can be

ascertained from the following table :

TABLE NO. 5.2

Demographic characteristics of three blocks


under Begumpur centre

SI Chanditala Chandital a Singur


No Particulars Block I Block II Block

1. Area (Sq.K.M.) 92. 16 81.7 174.7

2. Total Population 1,23,543 1,35,305 2, 19,714


(as per 1981 census)

a) Hale 62,796 70,497 1,15,480

b) Female 60,547 64,808 1,04,234

c) Scheduled Caste 22,265 16,374 11,568


(fami 1ies)
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....contd.

d) Scheduled Tribes 359 491 610


(families)

3. Total No. of families 20,042 26,499 43,943

4. Density of population 1,338 1,656 1,258


(per Sq.K.M.>

5. Literacy 44.37* 52% 51.5*

6. Maximum people Industry,


depend on Agriculture Service & Agricul-
Trade ture

Source : Annual plan 1990-91, Hooghly District Rural


1 Development Agency, West Bengal, Integrated Rural
Development Programme, P.66..

Chanditala Biock I is a predominantly agricultural area. There is

no big industrial unit in this block. A few small scale

manufacturing units have been established. Besides Government

machinery 6 (six) Commercial banks and 41 Co-operative societies

have been operating in this block. Due to the proximity of this

area to Calcutta which ensures supply of raw materials and

marketing there is a scope of prosperity of household industries

which is already developed in this block.

Chanditala Block II’s average distance from Calcutta is 20 k.m.

There are three important roads passing through the Block e.g.

Old Benaras Road, Delhi Road and Durgapur Express Highway. There

are some semi Government agencies like Commercial banks (six),

Co-operative societies (thirty) etc. which are doing very fine

job for the development of the area. It is being observed for

some time past that agriculture activity in this Block is

gradually diminishing and the people of this area have become

less dependent on agriculture and agricultural wage earnings.


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There are only 3,600 (approx.) small and marginal farmers in this

block. It has also been noticed that some local people have been

diverted towards allied agriculture scheme like house dairy,

poultry etc. and as Calcutta is nearer to the block and Mother

Dairy is within the block area these schemes are found to have

been very feasible in this area. Damodar Milk Union has recently

adopted four villages in the area having concentration of milk

growers. Some area of the block though do not fall within the
area of any municipality but have developed all the character-

-istics of the urban area as a result of which there has been a

rapid industrial outgrowth surrounding these areas and the most

of the people of this area are now deriving their livelihood

from industry, service and trade. Again there are some big

industrial set up like Dankuni Coal Complex, Mother Dairy, Bengal


Beverages, Grand Steel Co. etc. which are doing very large

industrial base work in the area.

Singur Block is situated in Chandannagar sub-division. It Is well

communicated with Calcutta, Tarakeswar and Bardhaman through

Delhi Road. Singur Block is very much developed in agriculture

particularly in production of Rice, Potato, Jute and various

types of fruits. In industry also the Block has potentiality,

because it is very near to Delhi Road. There is a Rural Electric


Co-operative society situated at Singur which suplies power in

the area. There are good number of cold storages which adds to

the infrastructure of the block. There are some cottage

Industries also. Under I.R.D.P. small scale industries like

weaving, nylon rope making, wool knitting etc. have developed.


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There is a proposal for setting up an Industrial Estate in Singur

block- There are three commercial banks and 28 co-operative

societies in the area.

As already pointed out the entire areas of Chanditala Block 1 and

Block II and Singur Block do not form the handloom area of

Begumpur. Only the villages (as shown in table no.5.1) where

cluster of weavers are large constitute the handloom area of

Begumpur. The people of this area are attached tohandloom

industry through successive generations.

FEATURES OF BEGUMPUR HANDLOOM INDUSTRY :

The features of the handloom Industry of the area can be

described under the following rubrics :

1. Types of looms

2. Number of looms

3. Average number of looms owned per family


4. Types of workers

5. Products

6. Production volume

7. Working days / hours

8. Employment volume
9. Income level

10. Slack season and peak season

11. Continuation of Mahajani business over generations like the

weavers

12. Weavers' Co-operative Societies of Begumpur centre.


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1. Types of looms :

All the looms used by the weavers of this area are fly shuttle

frame looms. The weavers call it locally 'Thak-thaki Tant’. These

are traditional looms used over a long period of time. Dobby and

Jackard are attached to these looms fpr creation of various

designs. Mainly dobby which is attached for small designs are

used by the weavers of this area. The skilled artisans of this

area create large designs (which are usually made through Jackard
in other centres) by using Dobby only. On an average five sarees

per week or 20 sarees per month are woven by a weaver on these

looms. Pit looms or any other type of looms are not used by the

weavers of this area.

2. Number of looms :

There are approximately 7000 looms under Begumur handloom area

engaged in producing mainly sarees. About 1500 looms (21%

approx. ) are under Co-operative fold and rest 7916 are under

private ownership.

3. Average number of looms owned per family :

Approximately two looms are owned on an average by each of the

weaving families. This overall average, however, does not

indicate that each and every weaving family has its own loom, as
five out of twentyfive families of this area under our study have

no loom of their own.

It has been noticed that at least in three families one loom or

two are not working i.e. they remain idle for want of working
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capital and manpower or they are out of order. Such idle looms

have been excluded for the purpose of computing the average

ownership.

4. Types of workers :

It is estimated that one loom can employ 2.5 persons directly

with handloom activity. The direct workers are the weavers

themselves who actually do the weaving work and the persons who

are engaged in doing pre weaving or preparatory job and post

weaving or finishing job.

The indirect workers are suppliers of raw materials, merchants,

traders. godown-keepers, carriers, labourers etc. The indirect

employment per loom has been estimated at another 2.5 persons per

loom. That means a handloom provides 5 persons to earn their

livelihood. Therefore in Begumpur handloom area about 17,500

persons are directly and again 17,500 persons are indirectly i.e.

35,000 in total are dependent on handloom.

Now the weavers are again classified under the following

categories :-

1) Independent weavers,

2) Weavers working on own looms under mahajans or master

weavers,

3) Weavers working under own looms under co-operative

societies,

4) Loomless-weavers working :
a) under weavers possessing extra looms,
b) under co-operative societies.

In contrast to Dhaniakhali handloom centre existence of loom-less

weavers is one of the important features of this centre.


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5. Products of Begumpur handloom » :

Specialities of Begumpur hand loom products are as follows

a) Begumpur hand loom produces mainly cotton sarees decorated

with artificial silk. No dhoti or other handloom products such as

napkin, chaddar, handkerchief, etc. are produced here.

b) The count of the yarn of these sarees is usually 80 x 80.

About 90% of the sarees of Begumpur handloom are of this type.

c) Begumpur handloom is of traditional dobby designs. Dobby

border 'Begum bahar* facinates many now-a-days.

d) The sarees are coloured and lustrous. The variety of

colours and design entices a buyer.

e) The prices are cheap. Of course it varies according to

design, colour and texture.

f) As the prices are within the means of the lower and

middle class group the sarees of Begumpur handloom are used by

these people.

The sarees of Begumpur ’Arang’ or 'Gharana11 are quite distinct

for its characteristics mentioned above. Any expert in handloom

or even an ordinary consumer by experience will be able to

distinguish a piece of Begumpur saree from the sarees of any

other 'Gharana*.

6. Production volume :
There is no data available for total production volume for the

centre. We have seen that the main item of production is saree.

We also know that approximately 7,000 looms are in operation in


the centre. Assuming 20 sarees are woven per loom per month the

* Tapan kumar pan, Begumpurer Tant Silpa: Ekti Samiksha (Handloom


industry of Begumpur: A Survey)f Boidagdha,Vol.7,No.4, p.224.
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estimated production of hand loom sarees in the centre is as

follows :-

7,000 looms x 20 sarees p.m. = 1,40,000 sarees per month.

7,000 looms x 20 sarees p.m. x 12 = 16,80,000 sarees per year.

7. Working days / hours :

Though the weavers of this area claim that they get job round

the year excepting 5-6 festive days, and work from morning till

night, it has been estimated that on an average a weaver can work

on loom for 300 days in a year and 8 hours a day.

Once beaming of yarn is done the weaver can weave for say one

month at a streach and has to stop for 3-4 days for re-beaming.

Thus a loom remains idle for 40-50 days in a year. Over and

above it may remain idle for some times for minor repairs,

attachment of dobby or jackard etc.

Apparantly we see that a weaver is working from morning till

night but the nature of the work demands rest to avoid monotony

and fatigue. Work at home and work at the factory are also

different in respect of performance. When a weaver is weaving at

his own loom he works leisurely and in a easy going manner as he

has none to account for his work. He goes to the market for daily

necessities of life, attends guests and friends, goes out to

dispose off his produce, takeB rest after meals etc. The picture

is different in case of loom-less weaver who works at others loom

for wage, but here working hours are fixed. Any way, it has been

observed that on an average a weaver can work for 8 (eight) hours

a day. Therefore, a weaver can work for 2,400 hours(300 x 8 hrs.)

in a year.
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8. Employment volume :

It has already been discussed that one loom can employ 2.5

persons directly and 2.5 persons indirect 1y.There are about 7,000

looms in the Begumpur handloom area. Therefore, total 35,000

persons (17,500 persons directly and 17,500 persons indirectly)

are engaged in handloom activity in the area in various

capacities such as, weavers, persons engaged in pre and post

weaving activities, merchants, traders, mahajans, etc.

The break up of the estimation of employment may be given as

follows :-
No.of Persons

Weavers .. .. .. 7,000

Persons engaged in Pre lc post weaving


activities .. .. .. 10,500

Indirect employment .. .. 17,500

TOTAL 35,OOO

9. Income level :

Even though weavers are manufacturers and owners of looms they

are actually wage earning artisans under mahajans, or master

weavers. Wages varies according to the skill of the weaver and

texture, design and quality of a saree.

An ordinary saree requires more than a day to be completed. On an

average 5 sarees (ordinary) can be woven per week. But in the

case of designed sarees 3 pieces on an average can be woven per

week. So the daily earnings of the weavers become very low to

support a family.

As the weavers do not keep any record of their income or


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expenditure it is very difficult to know the exact monthly income

from weaving. They generally get remuneration for weaving in

piece rate system. So income varies from person to person,

depending upon individual’s ability, health, age or skill and the

working condition of his tool.

Since handloom industry is that type of industry where variety in

output is common rather than rare, there are varieties of piece

rates in wages and variations in earnings of the weavers concern­

ed. The weavers of quality sarees earn more per saree than the

weavers of plain and coarse variety, but as the output of quality

sarees are low in comparison with the output of coarse sarees

total monthly income is not considerably high in case of produc­

tion of quality sarees. So it is very difficult to calculate the

average income of the weavers and even if an average is calcula­

ted it is of very limited significance.

Again, there are certain working expenses which are borne by the

weavers, such as repair and replacement cost of tools and

accessories, purchase of sago for preparing starching agent for

warp dressing, lighting of the work place etc. Therefore, to

arrive at the actual income these expenses - should be deducted

from their gross earnings. In other industries working expenses

are usually borne by the manufacturers as an element of cost of


the product but in the handloom industry under study these

expenses are imposed upon the weavers who work as the wage-
earning producers, but not as entrepreneur - manufacturers.

'However, it is difficult to estimate the sum of all these

expenses to get the working expenses. The actual loom itself


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lasts long. Only the healds, shuttles and some other minor

accessories and tools need regular replacement or repair. But the

weaver is not in a position to give even the approximate figure

for such expenses, as he does not maintain any record of it. The

amount spent on the starching agent Is certainly not exorbitant.

It does not seem reasonable to make too much allowance for the

cost of lighting as a purely working expense, since the whole or

some part of it, would have been incurred as a necessary item of

household expenditure, as if the weaving had not been carried on

in the home.*(l)

'Just as there are factors liable to reduce gross earnings f rom

the wages , so there are means by which earnings couldi be

increased. A domestic system of manufacture gives ■any

opportunities for the workers to indulge in embezzlement.’(2) The

weavers get supplies of raw material from mahajans/masterweavers

and Co-operative societies with allowance for normal waste.

'There are a number of ways by which a handloom weaver may

economise on the use of materials. Raw materials thus saved

become his own. The savings of yarn may be made in several ways.

The yarn may be replaced by yarn of slightly inferior quality. A

part of the breadth of warp can be taken away by putting them in

coarser reeds. Weft yarn can be saved by reducing the number of


picks and such-like malpractices. It is obviously impossible to

(1) P.C.Mahapatra, Economics of Cotton HandJoom Industry in India


(1986), p. 152.
(2) Ibid.
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estimate the extent to which these practices are carried on in

cotton weaving and to what extent the weaver is able to increase

his earnings by embezzlement.’(3)

'The prevailing piece rates of wages in the industry may more

appropriately be termed as "conversion charges", i.e. the charges

paid to the weavers for converting the raw materials into pieces

of fabrics. * (4) Actual earnings from weaving can only be obtained

after making necessary adjustments of the above deductions and


additions to the conversion charges.

The difficulty of knowing actual income of the weavers under

study does not end here. They themselves are the most unreliable

source. There is a tendency among the weavers to under estimate

their income to gain public sympathy. So the information had to

be checked and rechecked from other sources available. Contacts

were made with other weavers, mahajans and co-operative societies

for this purpose.

The following tables will show the earnings of different types of

weavers in Begumpur area.

<3) Ibid. p.153.

(4) ibid.
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Table No.5.3
Average Monthly per loom earnings# of an independent weaver
in Begumpur centre

Fabric Description Count Length Width Border Av. Monthly


mont- per loon
h1y earning
prod­
ucti­
on Brisk iSlac]
seas-!seas­
on i on

Metres Inches Nos. Rs. Rs.

Saree Grey Plain 80 x 80 5 47 plain 20 375 375


border

Saree Medium 80 x 80 5 47 Design 20 600 550


dobby desi­
gn

Saree Major dobby 80 x 80 5 47 Design 20 700 650


design with
Check
Source : Field survey. * at 1991 price level

TABLE NO. 5.4


Average Monthly wage-income* of a weaver working under Mahajan /
master-weaver in Begumpur centre

Fabric Description Count Length Width Border Wages Av. Monthly


plain/ per mon­ wage-
design piece thly income
pro­ per
duc­ 1 OOffl
tion

Metres Inches Rs. Nos. Rs.

Saree Grey plain 80x80 5 47 Plain 18 20 360

Saree Medium 80x80 5 47 Design 26 20 520


dobby
design

Saree Major dobby 80x80 5 47 Design 29 20 580


design

Source : Field survey. * at 1991 price level.


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TABLE NO. 5.5

Average Monthly wage-income* of a loomless weaver working under


weaver possessing extra looms for employing outsiders in Begumpur

Fabric Description Count Length Width Border Wages Av. Monthly


plain per mon­ wage-
design piece thly income
pro­ per
duc­ 1 oom
tion

Saree Grey Plain 80x80 5 47 Plain 16 20 320

Saree Medium 80x80 5 47 Design 24 20 480


dobby
design

Saree Hajor dobby 80x80 5 47 Design 26 20 520


design

Source : Field survey. * at 1991 price level.

TABLE NO. 5.6

Average Monthly wage-income* of a weaver working under primary


weavers' Co-operative society in Begumpur

Fabric Description Count Length Width Border Wages Av. Monthly


plain/ per mon­ wage-
design piece thly income
pro­ per
duc­ 1 oom
tion

Hetres Inches Rs . Nos. Rs.

Saree Grey plain 80x80 5 47 P lain 19 20 380

Saree Medium 80x80 5 47 Design 28 20 560


dobby
design

Saree Major dobby 80x80 5 47 Design 32 20 640


design

Source : Field survey * at 1991 price level


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Table No. 5.3 shows that there is very little fluctuation of

income in brisk and slack season. The weavers working under

aahajan/master-weaver, weavers possessing extra looms and co­

operative societies cannot feel the difference as the employers

provide them with work all the year round. In Begumpur centre

Independent weaver are marginally better than the other types

of weavers in respect of monthly income from weaving as is evid­

ent from Table Nos.5.3, 5.4, 5.5 and 5.6.

In addition to the handloom activity, some of the households

derive a part of their income from other sources. In our sample

out of 25 families, 21 families (8496) have no other source of

income. They depend solely on weaving cotton yarn. 4 families

among loom-less weavers sometimes try to find out other sources

of income by vending nuts near cinema houses, and doing such


other small trades. One of them has a small stationery shop and

another has a small black-smith shop. But the income from such

activities appears to be very low. Majority of families have no

other sources of income than weaving.

TABLE NO.5.7

Sources of income of weavers* families in Begumpur centre

Source of income No.of families Percentage

Income from weaving only 21 84

Income from weaving & other sources 4 16

Total 25 100

Source : Field survey.


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Causes of low income of weavers :

It has already been mentioned that income varies from person to

person according to the individual’s health, age, skill and the

working condition of his tool etc. But in general, the average

weavers’ income is low. In spite of hard labour he can only

manage to earn such income as is not even sufficient to meet the

basic needs of their livelihood. Following are the causes of low

income of the weavers of Begumpur centre :

I) Low rate of wages :

The prevailing rates of wages for weaving in Begumpur area

is very low. (vide table No.5.9 ) and there is little possibility

of increasing the same in near future. The mahajans, weavers’ co­

operative societies or weavers employing loom-less weavers are

not in a position to raise the rate of wages as it will increase

the cost of production.

ii) Competition from mill and power loom sectors :

A fabric produced in a mill or in power loom is much less

costlier than the same produced in hand loom owing to the benefits

of scale of production. Even assuming that consumers have prefer­

ence for handloom products they will certainly not agree to pay

much higher price for it. So chances of increasing wages which

will ultimately enhance the cost of production is remote.

iii) Production of coarse variety :

Most of the weavers in Begumpur area produce 80 x 80 count

sarees of plain and cheap variety. Naturally the rates of wages

for such weaving are lower in comparison with those of other


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centres where finer varieties are produced. Thus the income of

the weavers of Begumpur centre is also low.

iv) Use of age-old technology and low output :

Production in the old type of handloom is obviously low.

So any sincere effort to raise income working on such looms is

bound to fall flat as production cannot be increased

sufficiently.

As a result of low and irregular income and some other

difficulties of the weaving work itself many weavers want to

leave this job and join some other, where they can earn a better

living. This study expected to reveal whether the weavers of

Begumpur really liked to work on looms or they were attached

helplessly to the occupation. 24 out of 25 families answered

negatively i.e. they did not like the work and were attached to
that as they got no other alternative. The cause of their

dislikings are

i) This occupation cannot provide two square meals a day;

ii) No regular income can be earned - income depends upon work

order and the health of the weaver;

iii) Work of weaving requires patience and skill;

iv) Long hours of work at a stretch is required.

So they repent of being a weaver in handloom industry. Recent

problems of the industry have made them more pessimistic and no

one likes to induct the youngsters to this industry. But

virtually no measure have they taken to help the new generation

to acquire new skill which might help them to enter into new

occupation. In fact, they have no capaicty to do anything towards


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this end. Of course 2/3 graduates have been found in these

families. Their guardians intended to divert them to other jobs

but finding no other openings in these days of unemployment they

have returned to weaving again.

Comparison of income of the weavers with other local artisans :

The comparable skill possessed by carpenter and jweller of the

locality, it appears, is marginally better off than the weavers.

The daily wage rate of carpenter is Rs.60 and that of jweller is

Rs. 45-50. It is presumed that neither of these two categories

gets regular employment. Assuming 20 days work in a month a


carpenter earns Rs.1,200 and a jweller earns Rs.900-1,000 per

month. It is pointless to compare the income of the weavers with

that of the agricultural labours because there is large

difference between them in terms of skill.

10. Slack Season and Peak Season :

Seasonal fluctuations in sales were noticed in Begumpur

centre. Generally sales touch the peak point prior to 'Durga

Puja' and 'Kali Puja” festivals (Months - September, October and

November).

A dull season or slack season usually follows the peak season

and lasts for about two or three months.

An independent weaver who sometimes shoulders the responsibility


of disposing off his product and the weavers working under

primary weavers' co-operative societies can realise the difference


of slack and peak seasons. But the weavers who work under

mahajans / masterweavers cannot experience the difference because


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they get work throughout the year. It is the mahajan who

accumulates a huge stock for meeting the peak season demand keeps

the weavers busy throught the year by giving work order regularly.

11. Continuation of mahajani business over generations like the

weavers :

It has been noticed here that the weavers are engaged in handloom

weaving through generations. The younger members of a weaver’s

family become weavers by providing day-to-day assistance to the

elders in weaving activity.

There are small and big mahajans in Begumpur area depending upon

the volume of business conducted.

Mahajans are found to be engaged in their traditional business

through generations like the weavers. It is a common picture here

that the son of a mahajan is supplying yarn to the son of a

weaver and the weaver’s son is supplying finished product to the

mahajan’s son as their fathers did. A family friendship and

relationship also found to be developed among them.

12. Co-operative Societies of Begumpur :

There are about 15 weavers’ co-operative societies* in

Begumpur. The total number of members of these societies is 850.

* Names of co-operative societies :


Under Chanditala Block II : Janai Weavers* Co-operative Society
Ltd., Kharsarat Hadhyam Para TSS Ltd., Begumpur Hand loom Co­
operative society Ltd.,Kharsarai TSS Ltd., Begumpur Mahila TSS
Ltd., Chototajpur TSS Ltd., Chanditala II TTSS Ltd. (Uttar Adan)
Begumpur Anchal TSS Ltd., Kharsarai Uttarpara Bayan Silpa SS
Ltd., Kharsarai Dakshinpara TSS Ltd., Sanka Deshapria TSS Ltd.,
Bora-Begumpur TSS Ltd., Chototajpur SBS Ltd. (inactive).
Under Chanditala Block I : Chanditala Block I primary WCS Ltd.,
Jangalpara TSS Lid., Dakshin Gangadharpur TSS Ltd., Gangadharpur
ATSS (inactive). £ Source: Serampore Handloom Development
Office 1
-257-

The value of the clothes produced by these societies is about one

crore rupees. We have already pointed out in piont no.2 above

that only 21% of the looms of this centre are under co-operative

fold. The Government’s object is to bring all the artisans under

co-operative umbrella. The Apex society (TANTUJA), the Handloom

and Power loom Development Corporation (TANTUSHREE) and Handloom

House ( a central Government institution ) are helping these

primary societies by purchasing their products. These societies

are supplying necessary cotton yarn and artificial silk yarn to

their members for production and relieving them thereby of the

hazards of collecting yarn from mahajans. These societies usually

purchase yarn from the local market. They sometimes get it from

'Tantuja’,'Tantushree*, etc. The member-weavers get remuneration

at a fair rate for their weaving work. Actually they get Rs. 2-3

higher than the wage rates paid by the mahajan in private sector.

One thing is to be noticed that the exploitation in respect of

remuneration has been reduced since the mahajans are now

compelled to pay wage-rates closer to that paid by the societies.

There is a good number of weavers who have no loom of their own

in Begumpur centre. The Government of West Bengal has built up a

co-operative society at Uttar Adan under the initiative of the

Panchayet Samity of Chanditala Block II with the object of

emancipating the loom-less weavers from the exploitation of the

mahajans and helping them to settle down to a self-dependent

livelihood. There is a provision for employment of 100 loom-less

weavers in the society.


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Inspite of all these measures taken by the Government to organise

the weavers of this centre under co-operative fold a large number

of weavers in Begumpur area are outside the co-operative fold and

most of them are not interested to become members of the weavers

co-operative societies, nor any further initiative among the

weavers to organise new such societies are evident . The causes

are enumerated below :

i- Ignorance of the weavers : The weavers are ignorant about

the benefits of co-operatives. Due to this ignorance they have


even now remained unorganised and are being exploited in the

hands of mahajans.

2. Lack of interest among the members : The members of

weavers’ co-operative societies do not take much interest in the

affairs of the society which they are supposed to do. Everybody’s

business turns into nobody’s business here.

3. Aversion for change : For a long period of time the

weavers have been working under mahajans. Their fathers and

forefathers also did the same. Now they are accustomed to this

'Mahajani system’ and are afraid of changing from the traditional

habit. Again, they have doubts in their minds whether the co­

operatives will provide them with employments throughout the year.

4. Help in case of emergency: In case of emergency (such as,


sudden sickness, marriage, any other ceremony) the mahajans help

the weavers financially and thus assist them to tide over the
difficulties. The weavers have a fear in their mind that if they
become members of the co-operative socieities the help during
-259-

emergency might not be available to them as they are getting now.

5. Nominal weavers’ Co-operative societies : Mahajans to gain

from and resist the co-operativisation of weavers have in few

cases set up fake societies that exist only in papers as well as

have organised the weavers working under them into co-operative

societies. These societies are supervised by the mahajans

themselves. So the governmental help through such societies

reaches the mahajans instead of the weavers for whom it is

intended. Of course, the ignorance and lack of co-operative


education of the weavers are the causes of such deprivation.

6. Dual role of the office bearers of the societies : Some of

the office bearers of the societies play dual role of master-


weaver or Mahajans on the one hand and office bearers of the

societies on the other, jeopardising the mission of co-operative

societies thereby.

7. Rigid rules and regulations : Co-operative societies are

run by some rules and regulations rather than informal practices

with which mahajans and weavers are usually accustomed. Rules

regarding obtaining loan and its repayment, procuring yarns from

apex society, maintaining books of accounts, etc., are sometimes

rigid. The rigidity of rules keeps the weavers away from co­

operative societies.

8. Delay in payment of sale proceeds by Government

Institutions: Owing to dearth of capital of the apex society and


Government Institutions, such as Tantuja, Tantushree, Manjusha,

Hand loom House etc., they do not pay cash immediately for the
-260-

goods sold to them by the co-operatives'and make delay in payment


for 6 to 9 months or more.

9. Lack of Working Capital : A11 the societies in Begumpur

area are suffering from the scarcity of working capital. Bank

loans, loan from NABARD (Reserve Bank Scheme) etc. fall far

short of their requirements. The situation is further accentuated

by the long delay in receiving sales proceeds from the apex

society. So they require the help of 'mahajans’ for carrying on


their work.

10. Government Institutions do not accept the output regularly:

The Government institutions which are the major purchasers of

the products of the weavers’ co-operatives do not take the

products regularly. As a result of such irregular acceptance the

societies accumulate huge stock which ultimately leads to

stoppage of production till stock-clearance and receipt of the

turnover money.

11. Dearth of efficient managerial personnel : Suitable persons

do not want to come to a village to work as managers of these

societies at a low rate of salary. Again persons with managerial

abilities are also not available locally. So the efficient

management of these societies has always been a problem.

12. Weakness and Irregularities of the socieities : The

societies are the breeding grounds of disputes among the members.

Besides, want of interest to collect loan from banks, apathy to

pay Government loan, absence of proper recording of accounts,

absence of regular audit, Irregularity in holding general


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meetings, lack of co-ordination among the members are common

among many of the societies. These are the positive hinderances

to their successful working and popularity.

13. Political reasons : People having affinity with different

political parties would not come under the same co-operative

societies.

14. Other reasons : The bureaucrats of the Government

entrusted to look after these socieities reportedly harass the

weaver members in sanctioning loans, grants, financial help,

etc. It is also reported that sometimes malpractices are carried

on by the organisers of some primary weavers' co-operatives by

showing fake sales and thereby obtaining Government rebate.

If the above difficulties are removed and proper arrangements are

made for re-organisation of primary weavers' societies by

amalgamating many weak and small societies into a few moderately

large societies, efficient management, greater co-ordination

between primary and apex co-operative society, strengthening loan

facilities from co-operative banks and NABARD scheme, setting up

of branch office of apex society in Begumpur area for supply of

yarn, collection of handloom products and making payment of

prices, regular inspection, uninterrupted work, supply of loom

and accessories free of cost, annual prizes for better production,

medical help and leave, bonus, provident fund and just and

equitable salary, etc., these societies may prove to be successful

organisations and more weavers may be attracted under co-operative

umbre11a.
-262-

PROBLEMS OF HANDLOOM INDUSTRY OF BEGUMPUR CENTRE

Most of the important studies made from time to time, both at

government and individual initiatives, on different aspects of

handloom weaving in West Bengal reveal that the problems faced by

the handloom weavers in general include insufficient capital,

difficulty in procuring raw materials, particularly yarn, a weak

infrastructural base for marketing and distribution which is now

under the absolute control of mahajans, insistance on age old

methods and tools without any technological improvement, low and

unstable income, lack of provision for emergencies and continual

indebtedness.

Begumpur centre faces more or less the same problems indicated

above.

Concentration is given mainly on three basic problems of

(i) Finance,(2) Production and (3) Marketing of handloom products

of Begumpur centre within the frame work of this thesis.

It is believed that if these basic problems are solved other

allied problems will automatically be removed and the economic

condition and standard of living of the persons behind the loom

will be improved.

Ill FINANCE

The scarcity of finance in the handloom industry in Begumpur


centre is one of the most crucial problems. This scarcity leads

to use of age old technique of production, inability to procure

yarn and other raw materials, inefficient planning for output and
-263-

marketing etc. The effects of all these are low productivity,

high cost of production and low level of income of the weavers.

This low level of income again repeats the chain and weavers can

never come out of the vicious circle. Their income is so poor that

they cannot set aside a portion of their income as reserve for

repair and replacement of their equipment, construction and repair

of their house-cum-work place and expenses for occasional social

functions like marriage, religious festivals and other household

ceremonies. Such expenses, generally incurred at long intervals

are met by loans (supposed to be repaid) mainly from mahajans and

master-weavers. The independent weavers manage to meet the day to

day expenditure from their own earnings in the brisk seasons, but

during slack seasons they are forced to give up their

independence and depend upon the mahajans and master-weavers. The

weavers who work under mahajans get necessary raw materials and

also cash money as advance (against production) to defray their


day to day household expenditure. Though there is a distinction

between loans and advances here in this study no such difference

in made and both the terms are treated as financial help.

To set up a loom and work on it a weaver requires two types of

capital - (i) Fixed Capital and (2) Current Capital or Working

Capital.

(i) Fixed Capital : Fixed capitals are those which are permanent

in nature. Once they are made no early replacement of them is


necessary. The work-place, loom, dobby, reel, bobbin, drum etc.

constitute fixed capital in handloom industry. To set up a loom


-264-

approximately four thousand rupees are required. The break-up of

the expenditure is as follows : (at 1991 price level)

i) Frame of the loom (according to the quality of wood)

Rs.2,000 to Rs.2,500.

ii) Other equipment, such as dobby, reel, bobbin, drum etc.

Rs.1,500 (approx.).

Most of the weavers have their own looms which they have got by

inheritance. Of course there are loom-less weavers also in the

area.

Weaving of plain or designed sarees decides the number of

equipment to be attached with the main frame. In case of plain

saree the number of equipment is less than in case of designed

sarees.

(2) Current Capital or Working Capital : The scarcity of Working

Capital is the main obstacle in the development of the industry.

Working Capital is required for purchasing yarn, dyeing them,

coating them with glue, winding them in bobbins,druming and

beaming and other pre-weaving activities.

Beaming is done in such a way that 26, 28, 30, 32 and even 36

pairs of sarees can be woven at a stretch. In manufacturing

vocabulary this can be referred to as a single production run.

This means total quantity of yarn (warp and weft) for such number

of pairs has to be collected at a time. This requires a lot of

money, the amount varying according to type and quality of the

sarees.
-265-

Following is an estimate of the cost of yarn (as per

December,1991 yarn prices) for beaming of 29 pairs of designed

80 x 80 coloured sarees Rs. p.

80s yarn 54 Knots < 'Boras') coloured = 1,105.75

60s " 10 1* coloured = 165.33


n * 6 » washed white = 99. 19
n B 2 n =
English colour 37.05

80/2 " 6 » washed white = 132.00

80/2 " 1/2 n Haroon = 12.25

2/120 Artificial Silk (Maj light)


4 seer © Rs.148 per seer = 592.00

Artificial Silk 3.5 seer = 483.00

Working Capital for' buying warp yarn 2,626.57

source: field survey.


note : 1 Seer = 0.93310 kilogram; Seer, an old measuring unit,
is still in use here.
These are the cost of warp yarn only which is necessary for

beaming. Purchasing of weft yarn, which is also required for

weaving, involves additional cost. It Is estimated to be Rs.800

for the same number of pairs. It can be collected by instalments

as per requirement as the weaving work progresses.

Over and above, the cost of yarn itself there is the cost of

winding the yarn in the beam. For ordinary sarees, having no

design, wages for winding is usually Rs.3 per pair and for

designed sarees it Is Rs.4 per pair.


-266-

Therefore total working capital required for 29 pairs of designed

80 x 80 sarees are

For Warp Yarn Rs. 2,626.57


For Weft Yarn Rs. 800.00

For Beaming (29 x Rs.4) Rs. 116.00

TOTAL Rs. 3,542.57

Most of the weavers of Begumpur centre cannot afford to collect

the initial working capital themselves and hence depend upon

local mahajans. Even if any one can manage to collect this

initial working capital he cannot wait for monetary return till

the completion of one production run. During the period (normally

2 months) of a production run the weaver requires money for

for meeting his household expenses. He can procure the cash money

to meet these purposes by taking out a number of sarees before

the completion of a production run and selling them. Usually as

soon as 2/3 sarees are woven out the weaver tries to sell them.

He has two alternative ways to sell his product : (1) He can sell

it to a retailer or wholesaler in the market,and (2) He can hand

it over to the mahajan. Sale to a retailer or wholesaler will

not fetch immediate cash money, rather he has to wait till

the retailer/wholesaler sells it and pays him back.

If he avails of the second alternative he will get immediate cash

from the mahajan to meet his day to day family expenses. In

addition he will get yarn for weaving. The mahajan will pay
him in this manner till the completion of one production run.
-267-

Most of the weavers who avail of this alternative invariably

get into the clutch of the mahajans and become totally bound up
with him and it is difficult on their part to get out of this
ViciflHS firipfilp; Sr in FR&lity these weavers are nothing but

daily labourers under the mahajans.

In the context of provision of working capital the local yarn

dealers also play a vital role by supplying the weaver with the

initial yarn required, on a short term credit of normally one

month only. But as a production run takes normally 2 months to be

completed, he finds it difficult to pay the yarn dealer in full.

Even then a good number of weavers, mahajans and co-operative

societies avail the credit facilities offered by the dealers.

During emergency (e.g. sickness, marriage, death or 'sradh*

eeremoney etc.) the weavers go to the mahajans for loans. Though

interests are not charged directly on these loans (as it is done

by a money-lender), in reality the loans are more exacting for

the weavers than interests on loans charged by a private money

lender. The mahajans know that without the weavers their trade

will not flourish. The weavers also think that mahajans supply

them with their bread and help them in earning their livelhood.

Besides, the mahajans are generally regarded as their family

friends since they have been supplying the weavers with working
capitals through successive generations. This good relationship

is one of the causes of dependence of the weavers upon mahajans.

The general weavers of Begumpur centre cannot avail the

institutional loans (loan from Bank etc.) due to the lending


- 268 -

policies and procedural formalities of the institutions. The

banks generally grant loans for some specific purposes to those

who have the capacity to pay off. The banks require surety or

guarantor or mortgage of any fixed asset. The majority of poor

weavers cannot avail of the facility having no property to

mortgage and no one to stand as surety for them. Being

illiterate the weavers avoid the formalities like filling up of

forms, signing the contracts etc. with the banks.

Thus the weavers depend upon the mahajans as their first and last

resort for their working capital. This dependence upon the

mahajans indirectly leads to the perpetual and never-ending

exploitation of the poor weavers.

Supply of working capital in co-operative fold :

The government pays more attention in supplying working capital

to those weavers who are under the co-operative societies.

At present the sources of working capital of primary weavers' co­

operatives are :

1) National Bank for Agricultural & Rural Development C NABARD )

ii) State Co-operative Banks

iii) Central / District Co-operative Banks

iv) Nationalised Commercial Banks

v) National Co-operative Development Corporation ( N.C.D.C.)

vi) Gramin Banks.

The Reserve Bank's Scheme of handloom finance operated by the

National Bank for Agricultural arid Rural Development ( NABARD )

provides refinancing facilities to State Co-operative Banks for


-269-

financing, procurement and marketing of cloth by apex / regional

weaver societies and on behalf of Central Co-operative Banks for

financing production and marketing activities of primary weavers*


societies. (5)

Begumpur weavers have not derived expected benefit out of this

scheme because of the sole reason that the movement of forming

weavers* co-operatives itself has not found much favour with the
handloom weavers of Begumpur.

Nationalised Commercial Banks have not come forward with credit

because of the poor performance of the co-operatives of Begumpur

barring only a few cases in which loans were sanctioned on the

basis of reliability.

The co-operatives of Begumpur are unable to derive any benefit

from N C D C because it has not reached their doors.

There being no Gramin Bank in the area the question of getting

credit from it does not arise at all.

What have been discussed in respect of sources and method of

supply of working capital to weavers may be neatly summarised in

the form of a chart as follows:

(5) Dr.P.D. Qjha, Finance for the Cotton Textile. Industry


Problems and Prospects, Reserve Bank of India Bulletin ,May 1987,
p. £37*
- 270 -

Fund Flow Structure

Institutional Finance Mahajan/Master weaver

Individual
A1location Reserve Bank of Commercial weaver
in central & India scheme Banks
I
state budgets I
I
N A B A R D
Directorate I
I

of Handloom State co-op­


& Textiles erative Bank Individual Primary
weaver societies
District Handloom
Dev.office

Primary Central/ District Apex society


societies co-operative
Bank

Primary societies

* source : Abanti Kundut Pattern of Organisation in the Handloom


Industry in West BengalTp.34.

From the foregoing discussion as also from the chart it is

evident that the various credit schemes introduced for helping

weavers’ co-operatives have not met with much success in Begumpur

with the result that the co-operative society already set up have

not gained much strength and vigour and the individual weavers of

co-operative fold and of independent category have still remained

dependent to a large extent on the mahajans.

In summing up the above discussion on the problem of finance and

credit, we can say that the handloom industry in Begumpur centre


requires three types of finance, such as, long term capital,
-271 -

medium term capital and short term capital. To establish work

-shed and purchase of equipment (loom, dobby, jackard etc.) long

term capital is required. Medium term capital is essential for

repair and replacement of equipment and short term capital is

needed for the purchase of raw materials and payment of wages.

Capital investment is imperative for smooth running of the

industry whether it is run by mahajans or the co-operatives.

The industry is preoccupied with the problem of procuring finance

although total capital investment is not so considerable as in

medium and large scale industries. The commercial banks are not at

all keen on providing loans to the handloom weavers or the

societies because the amount of loan sought for by the industry

will not act as a booster for the bank to a great extent and the

borrowers of bank loans are usually found to be disinclined to

pay off their loans. They also feel reluctant to apply for loans

from these banks because of procedural difficulties. They also

experience difficulties in procuring a guarantor, and assets to

be mortgaged for the said purpose are also not at all adequate to

meet the needs. So the weavers outside co-operative fold depend

mainly upon mahajans who are looked upon as the necessary evils

of the industry. However, the primary co-operative societies

obtain loans from various sources of institutional finance such

as district handloom development office. NABARD scheme of Reserve

Bank of India, Commercial banks etc.

We can conclude that the main financial problems of Begumpur

handloom are
-272-

(1) The scarcity of working capital

(2) Dependence on mahajans for working capital as well as for


employment

(3) Aversion to and inadequacy of institutional loans to

meet the scarcity of working capital both for private

and co-operative sectors.

To verify the truthfulness of the problems we resorted to

emperical tests. In this centre 25 weavers’fami 1ies were randomly

selected and we asked them few questions regarding financial

problem. The result of the test is summarised in the following

table.
TABLE NO.5.8

Financial problems of Begumpur hand loom weavers.

Total Survey Population 25

Responses of No .of families

SI.No. Problems Yes No Indifferent/


1gnorant

i. Scarcity of working capital 16 9 -


( 64 ) ( 36 )

2. Dependence on mahajans for 19 6 -


working capital ( 76 ) < 24 )

3. Aversion to institutional 20 3 2
loan ( 80 ) < 12 ) < 8 )

4. Low income 25 " -


<100 )

Source : Field Survey-


Note : Figures in the parentheses indicate percentage.

1. Not being able to collect working capital for weaving the

weavers go to the mahajans to work under them. Another


-273-

alternatlve is to join the co-operative society.In our sample out

of 25 families 16 families (64%) work under mahajans owing to

inability of collecting working capital themselves. 9 families

(36%) are in a position to arrange such capital either

independently or through co-operative societies in the form of

yarn and other inputs.

2. As pointed out In 1 above weavers depend upon mahajanB not

being able to collect working capital. The co-operative societies

also cannot provide working capital to the member-weavers round

the year and so the weavers shuttle between mahajans and co-oper­

ative societies for their employment and earnings. At the time of

making the survey 3 such families are found to come back from

co-operative societies to mahajans resulting into rise in the

number of familities who were dependent on mahajans.

3. As stated earlier, weavers working under mahajans have

aversion to institutional loan as they get the same from mahajans

easily without any procedural formalities which are associated

with any kind of institutional loan. Weavers working independently

or working under co-operatives also have aversion to Institutional

loan for the same reasons. The responses of our sample families

identify that 80% of them have aversion, 12 actually availed

of the institutional loans and 8% are ignorant of the same.

4. Our observation about the low level of income of the weavers'

families is testified by the result of the survey where 100%

claimed that their income is low.


-274-

121 PRODUCTION

1. Participation of the family members in the production and

other activities incidental to production :

We have noticed that handloom is a product which is more

household than industrial. Though we call it handloom industry,

in reality the house of every weaver is a factory and almost

every member of the weavers' family is the worker. So its nature

and mode of production differs from those of the large,medium and

even the small scale industries.

In almost all the cases where loom is owned by the weaver, other

members of the family help in weaving activities. Mainly male

members are engaged in weaving and female members are engaged in

household activities. Children aged 7/8 years, female members and

old persons help in pre-weaving preparatory job. Sometimes female

members also weave on looms in the absence of the male members.

When a male member goes to the market or he is ill his wife

sometimes works on the loom. In those families where grown up

boys and girls are available, they weave on the loom to help the

family to earn more. But the family members of the loom-less

weavers who go to weave at others' loom, cannot help them as in

the case of loom-owners. It is important to note that the family

members who are engaged in pre-weaving preparatory job do not get

separate wages for their work. Only the male adult member who
weaves get wages for his weaving. The work for the other members

of the family goes unaccounted.


-275-
2. Training for skill acquisition :

All the weavers who are engaged in production of handloom

cloth in the centre, receive traditional training from their

elderly family members. As they grow up in the atmosphere of

weaving in home industry they are automatically attracted to

weaving from their early childhood and through their day-to-day

activity and assistance to weaving work they learn weaving without

much difficulty and without any cost for joining any institution

for specialised training. When they reach the age of fourteen or

fifteen they are able to take up weaving independently, as they

can learn the art by trial and error method.

3. Stages of production and cost* ;

It will not be out of place to mention the stages of production

and cost at different stages.

1) Processing and sizing : The cost of sizing per knot of fine

count of yarn has been found to be Rs.i.25, whereas it has been


Rs.i.75 to 2.00 per knot in case of medium and coarse yarn.

2) Winding ■% The women and infants are found to be engaged in

winding. If it becomes necessary to employ outside workers for

winding,the charges on an average will amount to Re.0.90 per knot.

3) Drumming (Warping) and Beaming : The cost of Drumming and

Beaming for plain border sarees varies from Rs.2.50 to 3.00 per
pair and the corresponding figure for Naksa (designed) border

sarees varies from Rs.3.00 to 5.00 per pair. In case of Katki

design on the body of the saree the cost is higher (Rs.8 per pair).

* Tapan kumar pan, Begumpurer Tant Silpa: Ekti Samiksha <Handloom


industry of Begumpur: A Survey), Boidagdha, Vol.7, No.4,Pp.219-221.
-276-

4) Denting and drafting :

The cost of denting and drafting of 24 pairs of plain border

sarees is about Rs.20 and the cost of those for designed sarees

is Rs.25 to 40 according to the variation in design.

5) Looming : Looming means making the loom ready for weaving.

In local vocabulary it is termed as 'Tant Khatano'. This work is

usually done by the weaver himself and hence no wages is required

to be paid for the same. But as the work takes normally one day

the wages of the weaver for a day may be considered as

remuneration for looming. After the completion of pre-weaving

activities the work of weaving starts. In private sector no

separate pre-weaving expenses are given to the weavers. The

wages include all the above mentioned pre-weaving costs.

Therefore, the cost of a fabric in private sector can be

obtained by adding cost of yarn to the wages of weaving. Of

course, in co-operative sector such expenses are allowed.


277-

The following are the wages of one piece of saree of different

counts :
TABLE NO.5.9.

Wage rates for weaving in Begumpur centre

Types of saree Count Wage rates


Rs.

Ordinary Grey Saree 60 X 80 n - 14

Ordinary Grey Saree 80 X 80 16 - 19


9
Ordinary Striped saree 60 X 80 16 - 20

Plain Coloured Saree 80 X 80 18 - 23

Striped Coloured Saree 80 X 80 23 - 28

White (fine) Saree 80 X 80 24 - 29

Medium dobby design Saree 80 X 80 24 - 28

Katki (Tie & Dye) Saree 80 X 80 26 - 31

Major dobby design Saree 80 X 80 26 - 32

Source : Field survey. * at 1991 price level.

4. Cost of raw material and its proportion to total cost j

Begumpur being the centre of weaving 'Cotton Saree’ the basic raw

material used in the production of such sarees is cotton yarn.

The brand of yarn used by the local weavers are Laxmi-Saraswati,

Bhagawati, Kothari, Thaigalraj, Super, Madurai, Pioneer and yarn

from Bauria Mill (West Bengal). Other items of raw materials are

artificial silk, sizing materials, dyes etc. The cost of raw

material constitutes a considerable part of the total cost of

production (Table Nos.5.10 & 10A). It is very difficult to general

-ise the proportion of cost of raw material to total cost of


-278-

production. It varies with the type, design and texture of the

saree and also with the variation of prices of yarn. The fact

finding committee, 1974, however, had arrived at some broad

conclusions, on the basis of which it can be said that the cost

of raw material, namely that of yarn, varies from 50 to 80 per

cent of the total cost of production depending upon the fabric

woven. Raw material or yarn being the prime factor of handloom

production the prosperity of the industry depends upon the

availability of yarn at a reasonable price, in adequate quantity


and as per required quality-

Cost structure of a woven saree (coloured) of standard size of 80

x 80 counts under co-operative fold and under mahajan may be

guessed from the following two tables :

TABLE NO.5.10

Cost structure* of one piece of saree of different designs under


co-operative fold in Begumpur centre

Elements of Cost Grey Plain Coloured Coloured


Bordered medium major
saree designed designed
saree saree
<80 x 80) <80 x 80) <80 x 80)

Rs. % Rs. % Rs. %

i. Cost of yarn 60.00 71 60.00 65 60.00 62


2. Wages 20.00 24 28.00 30 32.00 33
3. Other expenses 5.00 5 5.00 5 5.00 5

Cost of production 85.00 100 93.00 100 97.00 100

Source : Field survey. * at 1991 prices.


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TABLE NO.5.10 A

Cost structure* of one piece of saree of different designs under


a mahajan in Begurapur centre

Elements of Cost Grey Plain Co 1oured Coloured


Bordered medium major
saree designed designed
saree saree
<80 x 80) <80 x 80) <80 x 80)

Rs. * Rs. * Rs. *

1. Cost of yarn 59.00 77 59.00 69 59.00 67


2. Wages 18.00 23 26.00 31 29.00 33
3. Other expenses

Cost of production 77.00 100 85.00 100 88.00 100

Source : Field survey. * at 1991 prices.

The Tables reveal that while the cost of raw material (yarn)

varies between 62* to 71* In co-operative sector it varies

between 67* to 77* in private sector but the proportion is high

in both the sectors. The proportion of wages is lesser than that

of cost of yarn in both the sectors. Though other expenses are

not paid separately and the wages are inclusive of the expenses,

wage-rates in private sector are Rs.2-3 less than those of the

co-operative sector.

Cost of yarn and wages are two main components of the cost of

production of cotton handloom fabrics. The proportions of these

elements in the cost of production cannot be expected to conform

to any uniform standard in the case of the handloom products

where heterogeneity of products is the rule. These proportions

vary from one type of fabric to another, from one range of

counts of yarn to another and from one type of design to another.


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5. Problem of rising prices of yarn :

The problem of short supply of yarn as mentioned earlier (in

Chapter IV ) Is a problem of handloom industry of West Bengal

as a whole. It is not a local problem of Begumpur handloom only.

Handloom industry uses yarn made in mills, not made by spinning

wheel or charkha. Thus the industry is dependent solely upon the

mills which produce yarn. But the composite mills supply yarn to
the handloom industry out of the surplus yarn, only after their

own consumption. Such surplus being very insignificant within

West Bengal the required quantity of yarn by handloom industry is

not available. The spinning mills also are able to supply a part

of their production to the handloom sector. So to bridge the gap

between the production of yarn and its requirement West Bengal

imports about 8094 of its requirement from southern and western

states of India. This hardship of short supply of yarn is also

shared by Begumpur handloom industry along with the other centres

of the states.

Begumpur handloom industry is also affected adversely by the

rising prices of yarn. The price behaviour of the yarn

destabilises the ratio between the inputs.

There had been even more than 123% of increase in the prices of

certain variety of yarn during 1986 and 1992 as will be

evident from the following Table. The following table shows the
increase In the rates of different kinds of yarn in the local

market of Begumpur area.


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TABLE NO. 5.11

Rising trend in prices of yarn in 1 ocal retail market of Begumpur

Yarn 1986 1987 1990 1992


variety
Rate Rate % at Rate % of Rate % of
per per increase per increase per increase
bund 1e bundle■ over'86 bundle over '86 bund 1e over'86
Rs. Rs. Rs. Rs.

40s white 91 95 4.4 130 42.8 160 75.8

60s white 110 120 9.0 180 63.6 195 77.2

80s white 150 160 6.6 250 66.6 310 106.6

2/120 white 150 155 3.3 265 76.6 335 123.3

source: field survey, 1 bundle-2.27 Kgs. or Bibs.

Different counts of yarns are used for weaving in Begumpur

hand loom. The Common counts are 40s, 60s and 80s. Increase in the

number of counts means the quality of yarn becoming finer. The

numbers 2/60, 2/80, 2/120 etc. denote twisted yarns and are used

to weave the border of a saree. Again yarn may be divided into

warp yarn and weft yarn - warp representing the yarn used for

the length of a cloth and weft for the width of it. A bundle of

yarn weighing 5 lbs of 40, 60 and 80 counts consist of 10, 15 and

20 knots (called 'mora* in local vocabulary) respectively.

Information at hand reveal the prices of warp, weft and twisted

yarns (white, not coloured) of 80 count in retail market in the

area. The upward tendency of the prices of yarn can also be

realised from the following table :


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TABLE NO.5.12
Prices of i knot (mora) of yarn (white) of 80 count
In retail market of Begumpur in different years

Yarn variety August March January


1987 1988 1992
Rs. Rs. Rs.

Warp yarn 9 11 16.50

Weft yarn 7 10 11.37

Twisted yarn (2/80 count) 17 19 26.00

Source: Field survey.

The prices of coloured yarn varies according to the colour of the

yarn. In case of fast colour the cost is high and it is lesser in

case of not-so fast colour. For example, the cost of dyeing one

bundle of yarn (weighing 5 lbs.) is Rs.60 - 90 in case of fast

colour and Rs.35 - 60 in case of not-so-fast colour.

The following table will indicate the trend of prices of

different counts of yarns supplied by Apex Co-operative body

(Tantuja) to the weavers’ Co-operatives of Begumpur.

TABLE NO. 5.13

Rates per bundle (weight - 2.27 Kgs. or 5 lbs) of yarns supplied


by Tantuja to the Weavers’ Co-operative Societies of Begumpur.

Months Cotton yarns Art.silk


40s 60s 2/60 80 2/80 2/120

Aug’87 - - 118.40 174.80 147.40 163.95

Sept.’87 - - 118.40 174.80 - 163.95

Dec.*87 - 120.45 134.95 166.00 163.40 -

Jan.* 88 - 120.45 - 181.55 - 173.80

May*88 108.05 163.15 170.15 - 205.85 -

Oct.’91 140.00 193.50 180.00 241- 223.50 293.00


259

Source : Field Survey


-283-

It is to be noted that the prices of yarn supplied by apex co­

operative body are not less, even sometimes higher than those of

the local market price- But it matters little to the society as

Tantuja takes the products from these societies at prices

commensurate with higher prices of yarn.

in Begumpur centre out of 25 weaver families in our sample, 20

families emphasised on the problem of rising prices of yarn. In

the remaining 5 families most of the weavers were loom-less and

wage-earners who worked under some mahajans or co-operative

societies. They need not to purchase yarn from the market. So

they felt little difference in their earnings by the rise of the

yarn-prices. But 80ft of the families of our sample were adversely

affected by the rise in the prices of yarn. The mahajans could

not increase the price proportionately because higher prices of

cotton sarees would push the customer to mill or synthetic saree

market. To maintain the market stability the mahajans resort to

the strategy of wage cut. Without the strategy of wage-cut the

mahajans cannot maintain a reasonable margin of profit. So the

weavers working under mahajans get lower wages and the

Independent weavers who purchase yarn themselves from the market

have to pay higher cost of yarn.

When asked about the causes of this increase in prices, most of

the weavers of the sample said that they were not aware of the

cause. But one or two of them said that they read in the

newspaper that Central Government was exporting yarn to other


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countries and as a result there was a shortage in the supply of

yarn and prices were increasing. But the weavers admitted that

they felt no difficulty in getting the yarn from the market.

This does not prove that there is no shortage of yarn supply in

the country. Figures relating to demand and production of yarn,

from a macro point of view, indicate that there is an actual

shortage of supply.

6- Mode of yarn procurement :

The mode of supply of yarn in Begumpur centre may be discussed

under two headings : (1) Supply of yarn to the weavers outside

the co-operative fold and (2) Supply of yarn to the co-operative

societies.

<1) Supply <pf yarn to the weavers outside the co-operative fold :

Weavers outside the co-operative fold are large in number

being about 75 to 80 per cent of the total number of weavers

here. Yarns are purchased by the weavers from the local market or

are collected from mahajans. Those who have less capital collect

yarn from mahajans. Mahajans supply yarn on condition that the

weavers would sell the cloth only to them when it is ready. Here

mahajans exploit the weavers twice - they fix prices of yarn at a

higher level and receive ready product at lower rate. Of course,

the situation has somewhat changed for the better now. Previously

mahajans used to charge higher prices for yarns supplied by them

to the weavers. But now weavers are aware of the current market

prices of yarns, naturally they object if prices charged are

higher than retail market prices. So mahajans now-a-days cannot

charge unduly higher prices of yarn as before. What they usually


285
- -

do to-day is that they purchase in bulk from the market at

wholesale price and sell the same to the weavers at prevailing

retail price or slightly higher than that. If weavers purchase

yarn direct from the market they get it at retail price. Of

course, there are very few weavers who can afford to purchase

yarn from the market on wholesale basis. Thus, the mahajans have

survived as an institution and have so long been tolerable to the

weavers.

Sometimes mahajans supply both warp yarns and weft yarns but

sometimes warp yarns are supplied by mahajans and weft yarns are

purchased from the local market by weavers themselves. But in

both the cases cloth is sold to the mahajan only.

Those weavers who are financially a bit well-off and can afford

to purchase yarn from the market, purchase both warp and weft

yarns Independently, but having no other alternative they have to

sell the cloth to mahajans.

Mahajans collect yarns from local market and supply them to

weavers. Local traders get yarns from Burrabazar of Calcutta.

They purchase from Burrabazar on wholesale prices in lots and

sell in the local market at retail prices. If any weaver wants to

bring small quantity of yarn from Calcutta it will cost him more.

So it Is not worthy to make retail purchase of yarn from Calcutta.

In Begumpur handloom centre supply of yarn for handloom weaving

to the weavers outside co-operative fold is made in the following


three ways :-
i) Advance of yarn to weavers,

ii) Own capital system, and

iii) Price adjustment system.


- 286 -

i) Advance of yarn to weavers : In this system mahajans supply

yarn to the weavers in advance- The weavers have nothing to do in

this respect. They are not required to spend anything for

obtaining the yarn. So they need not to worry about its market

price. The weavers here are just like labourers or wage earners.

They may have looms of their own but mahajans supply yarns and

get the yarns woven by the weavers and pay remuneration according

to count, design and quality of the woven stuff. Thus having

owned looms of their own and possessing skill of weaving they

become mere labourers or wage-earners in the industry. This

system is applicable to the weavers who are too poor to pay for

yarns.

il) Own capital system : In this system a weaver purchases yarn

from the market or procures it from mahajans by paying for it out

of his own capital. Increase in the price of yarn hits the

artisan directly in this system. In these days of rising prices

of yarn they are very much anxious and their sufferings have

increased considerably. Any way, after procuring yarn by their

own capital the weavers weave sarees in their own looms and sell

It to the mahajans or In the local market. As they collect yarn

with their own capital they have the liberty of selling the

product to any mahajan whoever gives them better price. But for
regular sale throughout the year the artisan-weavers generally

supply their products to one or two specific mahajans who receive


their product all the time. This system is beneficial to the

weavers when the sale price of saree is high or demand is more.


-287-

iii> Price adjustment system * : In this system of supplying yarn

the artisan-weaver gets yarn from the mahajan on an advance

basis at a price to be settled by the mahajan. In general the

price of yarn is charged slightly higher than the retail market

price of yarn. This higher price is charged due to carring and

storage cost incurred by the mahajan.


Mahajans supply yarns for 28, 29, 30, 32, 35 or 38 pairs of

sarees at a time and get them woven by the weavers and make lump

sum payments as and when instalments of woven products are

delivered. The cost of yarn and the lump-sum payments in

instalments are adjusted at the time of final settlement. In this

system cloth is woven under the instruction of mahajans and as

per design required by them. The yarn may of course, be purchased

by the weaver from the market. In such cases the purchase price

of yarn is adjusted against contract price. A live example will


help to illustrate the system.

A mahajan supplied yarn to a weaver in Begumpur in January,1992,

for weaving 29 pairs of sarees. The details of the supply of

yarns and their prices are as followst-

* Foot note : f Locally this system is known by nDaam Dharati9


system. "Daam" means price and ”Dharatirr stands for 'to be taken
or to be calculated'. Therefore, nDaam Dharatin means the price of
the product to be calculated at a pre-agreed rate that includes
wages to be paid and the price of the yarn supplied at the time
of agreement.J
-288-
Warp yarn 80s :yarn 54 knots (moras), co1oured ... Rs. 1105.75

60s ft
10 ft
9 co1oured • • • 165.33

60s ft 6 ft
f washed 99. 19

60s ft
2 ft
t English icolour 37.05

80/2 tv
6 n
9 washed • • • 132.00

80/2 ft 1/2 n
9 maroon • • • 12.25

120/2 tv
Artificial silk (majlight) 4 seer
Rs.148.00 per seer » • • 592.00
It
Artificial silk 3. 5 seer • ■ * 483.00

Weft yarn 80s ;yarn 61 knots (moras), coloured


© Rs. 13.13 per knot • ■ • 800.93

TOTAL ... 3427.50

source : field survey.


note : 1 seer = 0.93310 kilogram; old measuring unit (seer) is
still used here.

The weaver had woven the sarees one by one in approximately

3 months and supplied them to the mahajan in 10 instalments

during the period. As the weaver went on suppling the sarees, the

mahajan also gave him some money each time depending upon the

number of sarees supplied. An account was maintained by the

mahajan for the supply of yarn and gradual payment. The mahajan

accepted all the 29 pairs or 58 pieces of sarees at the rate of

Rs. 75.00 per piece or at Rs.4350.00. The summary of the accounts

thus stood as follows:-


Rs.P.
Contract price for 58 pieces (58 x Rs.75) ... 4350.00
Less Cost of yarn supplied ... 3427.50

922.50
Less Total amount received from mahajan in instalments 825.00

Amount received from mahajan at the time of


final settlement 97.50
-289-

Therefore, It may be said in a nutshell that the yarn which is

the basic raw material in handloom weaving, may be collected by a

weaver in the private sector either by direct purchase from the

local market or from mahajan in the form of advance. Another

system of procuring yarn is to get a part of the yarn from


mahajan and to purchase the other part from the market. The loom­
less weavers who work under mahajans / master-weavers collect

yarn from them only.

(2) Supply of yarn to the primary weavers1 co-operative societies:

From the survey of the co-operative societies In the area it

is observed that the weavers of co-operative fold get the supply

of yarn from two sources, namely, (i) Apex co-operative society

(TANTUJA) and (2) Open market (local market).

The major source of supply of yarn to these societies is the apex

co-operative society or Tantuja. Tantuja is often unable to meet

the requirements of yarn of these societies and they have to


procure the same from the private merchants of yarn at Begumpur.

The co-operative societies supply yarn to the weavers who are the

members of the societies.

The following illustration shows the supply of yarn by a primary


co-operative society to its member weaver and the variance of

prices if the same would have been supplied by a mahajan


-290-

TABLE NO. 5.14

Comparative cost of yarn supplied to the weavers by primary

co-operative society and mahajan in Begurapur centre

Description of the product :


32 pairs or 64 pieces of sarees
Design : " Ara Katki Naksha ", 1/2 colour i.e. warp =
grey, weft = coloured,
Length : 5 metres, Width : 47" ( 1.2 metres )
Border breadth : 2" Counts: 80 x 80 .

From co-op. From


society mahajan

Warp yarn : Rs. P. Rs. P.

80s warp yarn, grey, 70 knots (moras)


@ 660 per 10 lb. 1,172.50 1,172.50

60s warp yarn, coloured, 6 knots (moras)


@ 496 per 10 lb. + dyeing charges Rs.15 114.19 114.19

2/120 Rayon (artificial silk) 340 Tola


8 Rs.670 per 375 Tola + dyeing charges
Rs. 75. 682.46 682.46

Weft yarn :

80s weft yarn, coloured 72 knots (moras)


Q Rs.660 per 10 lbs + dying charges
Rs.40. 1,332.00 963.00

448 pcs."Katki" yarn © Rs.3 per piece 1,344.00 1,344.00

4,645.15 4,276.15

source : field survey.


note r Jn 60s count yarn 10 lb.= 40 knots,
In 60s ” ”10 lb. = 30 knots.

From the Table it can be said that excepting in case of weft yarn

there is no difference in prices between the two suppliers. The

price differential that is noticed in case of weft yarn is


-291-

illusory because the weavers of co-operative fold use the same

yarn as weft and warp yarn while weavers producing for the

mahajans use two different yarns for warp and weft, lower priced

one for the weft- Consequently, consumer gets a better quality

saree from the co-operative fold than those from the mahajans.

Among other items of raw materials dyes are important. There are
three big and ten small dye houses in Begumpur handloom centre,

all run by private ownership. Grey yarns of different mills are

brought to Begumpur and are dyed in these dye houses. About 25

to 30 families are engaged in this occupation here. Most of them

are muslims.

The expenditure for dying varies with the variation of colour

ranging from Rs.35 to Rs.90 per bundle of 5 lbs. Sulpher dyes

cost Rs.35 ~ Rs.60 per 5 lbs, while vat dyes cost Rs.60 - Rs.90

per 5 lbs.'The cost of sulpher dyes is comparatively low,but they

dye the fabrics in dull colours. For this reason, they are mainly

used for dyeing in dark colours.* (6)

Owing to economic reasons the looms and accessories are not

replaced timely and weavers of this centre carry on production

with the .worn out looms and accessories. The results are

obviously low output and comparatively high cost of production.

(6) P.T.Bukayev, Genera] Technology of Cotton Manufacture, Mir


Publishers,1984, Moscow,p.175.
-292-

The main problems of production of this centre are

(1) Rising prices of yarn,

(2) Inadequacy of supply of yarn at fair prices and exploitation

of mahajans in supplying the same.

(3) High cost of production,

(4) Low output, and

(5) Worn out looms and accessories.

TABLE NO.5.15

Production problems of handloom fabrics


in Begumpur handloom centre

Total Survey population : 25

SI Problems Responses of No.of families

No. Yes No Indifferent/


Ignorant

1. Awareness about rising 20 - 5


prices of yarn (80) (20)

2. Inadequacy of supply of 11 - 14
yarn at fair prices (44) (56)

3. High cost of production 5 - 20


(20) (80)

4. Low output 15 5 5
(60) (20) (20)

5. Worn out looms and accessories 20 5 -


<80) (20)

Source : Field survey.


Note : Figures in parentheses indicate percentage.

<i) In Begumpur centre out of 25 weaver families 20 families

emphasised on the problem of rising prices of yarn; the remaining


-293-

5 families are ignorant about the rising prices as they are

loomless and wage-earner only. Weavers working under mahajans or

co-operative societies are not directly affected by the rising

prices of yarn. Since mahajans are not in a position to increase

their selling prices pari pasu with rising yarn prices they have

to resort to wage cut which indirectly affect the weavers.

(2) Out of 25 families 19 families (7616) do not buy yarn from

market. Of them 16 families get supplies solely from mahajans and

the remaining 3 partly from mahajans and partly from co-operative

societies. So they cannot realise the problem of inadequacy of

supply at fair prices and respond indifferently. 6 families

(24%) collect yarn from market and are conscious about the

problem. Unawareness of the inadequacy of supply by the majority

does not signify the non-existence of the problem. (vide Table

No.4.26 of Chapter IV )

(3) As most of the weavers work under mahajan/master weaver or co­


operative societies they have not to pay for the Inputs and

hence have little idea about cost of production. That is why 80%

of the sample families remain indifferent to the problem. 20% of

the families responded in affirmative as for some reasons or

other they have to buy inputs from the market.


(4) 60% of the sample families agreed that their output is low

owing to old and worn out looms and accessories. 20% could not

share the view as they purchased new looms and accessories and

their production was at required level. The remaining 20% are

indifferent to the level of output not because of they are


-294-
unaware of it but they are uncertain about the contributing

factors to lower output level. This impression we have gathered

while interacting face to face with them. In their views besides

the age of the loom the health and age of the weaver, working

condition,timely supply of raw material etc. are also to be taken

into account to ascertain the output level. In an unorganised

industry most of the time these additional factors are influx. It

would not be wide of mark to infer that the last 20* also viewed

low output level.

(5) Looms inherited by families (80*) have become worn out by

over use and the remaining 20* families possess new looms. There

is a correspondence between problem no. (4) & (5) above.

[3] MARKETING

Marketing is the key function upon which the success or failure

of any industrial activity depends. Professor Peter F. Drucker, a

well known management thinker, has rightly said, 'Marketing is an

essential function in any industrial activity.* He has remarked

that it is the 'Central function of such activity.' Taking cue

from him it can be said that when the marketing of a product like

handloom is concerned it is much more important for the survival

and the future prosperity of the industry.

Marketing of any product very broadly comprises the following

activities i. Marketing functions,

2. Channels of distribution,
3. Price fixation mechanism,

4. Sales promotion, and

5. Marketing research.
-295-

We shall follow the above broad aspects of marketing to discuss

our marketing system of hand loom products in Begumpur centre,

i. MARKETING FUNCTIONS :
According to E. Jerome Maccarthy marketing functions may be

classified into the following divisions and sub-divisions (7) :-

a) Exchange functions - i) Buying, and ii) Selling,

b) Physical distribution functions - i) Transporting, and

ii) Storing,

c) Facilitating functions - i) Standardisation & grading,

ii) Financing,

ill) Risk taking, and

iv) Market information.

(a) Exchange functions : Exchange functions consist of buying

and selling of finished handloom products here. The first hand or

primary buyer of handloom products is mainly the mahajans of the

area. They advance yarn to the weavers and collect woven products

at a regular interval in exchange of wages. Another agency, the

apex co-operative society collects the products of the area

through primary co-operative societies of Begumpur centre. The

member weavers of these primary societies weave throughout the

months and the products they produce are collected or purchased

by the apex society (Tantuja) from time to time for selling these

products to the consumers through various emporia throughout the

country.
The selling of handloom products of Begumpur centre is effected

through two systems

(7) Basic Marketing- E. Jerome Maccarthy, 6th edn. Pp.20-21.


-296-

(1) Private sector under which come - (i) Mahajans, and

<ii) Weaver himself.

(2) Co-operative sector under which come primary weavers* co­

operative societies of the area.

(1) Private sector :

(i) Mahajans : Local mahajans generally sell the sarees which

are the main product of this centre

1) to the cloth stores owned by themselves,

11 ) a) to the big or small stores of Calcutta <at Burrabazar),

b) through Hari Saha (or, Harisha)’s "Hat" (market) at

Calcutta (which is held every Monday),

c) through the "Hangla Hat" of Howrah (which is held

every Tuesday),

[ In both the "hats" mentioned in b) and c) retail and

wholesale buying and selling take place 3

d) to the cloth merchants in and outside West Bengal.

Begumpuri sarees are in good demand in Howrah, Calcutta,

Raniganj, Asansol and Durgapur in West Bengal. Outside West

Bengal these sarees go to Bihar, U.P., M.P., Orissa, Tamil Nadu,

Maharashtra and Karnataka also.

(ii) Weaver himself : An independent weaver who is not working

under any mahajan or is not under any co-operative society

procures yarn from the local market, weaves of his own and makes

marketing arrangement himself. Such weavers are very few in

number here. However, such a weaver has four alternatives as

regard to the sale of his products :


- 297
-

<i> direct sale to the customer,

(ii) sale in the local market,

(iii) sale to the mahajans, and

(iv) sale to the central marketing agencies.

As he has no retail shop of his own there is little possibility

of making direct sale to a customer unless he is approached by an

individual customer. Door to door sale is almost impossible

because time spent on hawking may be well utilised in weaving of

sarees leaving the trouble of marketing to others.

The independent weavers may avail of the opportunity of selling

their products in the local market. Local market can also be used

as a supplier of inputs like yarn. Near to Begumpur a few markets

viz., Chota Tajpur, Chanditala, Saekhala etc. function. After

verification it has been ascertained that the independent weavers

of Begumpur rarely visit the nearby markets possibly because (a)

lack of guarantee of sale, (b) probability of lower price for the

products being offered, and (c) apprehention of high prices of

inputs (if purchased from local market ). On the contrary it has

been found that few independent weavers prefer to visit distant

"hats" like Harisaha Cat Calcutta), Hangla (at Howrah) etc. where

guarantee of sale and high prices for the product and low prices

of inputs are distinct possibilities.

An independent weaver can alternatively sell his products to the

apex co-operative society and other government agencies like

Tantushree, Hand loom house, etc. But he has to go Calcutta for

selling his products to these agencies. He is not interested to


-298-

sell his products to these organisations, because they do not

accept whatever quality product is offered and do not make spot

payment.
As an independent weaver is not always able to sell his produce

either direct to customers, or in local market, or to the

government marketing agencies he has practically one alternative

left viz., the mahajan. Mahajans are preffered as maeketing

channel basically for two reasons. One, they accept whatever


quality products are offered. The defective products are also

acceptable to the mahajans, of course, at lower prices. Two, the

independent weavers are in dire need of hard cash for buying

daily necessities and inputs (yarn, dye etc.) for production.

Mahajans are always ready to pay on the spot for the sarees

offered but always at lower rate. The lower price rate is

preferable to the uncertainties that are associated with the

other three alternative channels of marketing. The obvious

conclusion is that in the private sector part of the handloom

market the mahajans rule the roost.

<2) Co-operative sector :

West Bengal Government has set up marketing agancies which

collect and make arrangement for sale of handloom products. Such

agencies are Tantuja, Tantushree, Hanjusha, Bangashree etc.

Tantuja has played important role in creating demand of these

products specially of sarees both within and outside West Bengal.


These institutions collect sarees of Begumpur handloom mainly

from primary co-operative societies. The Handloom house, another


-299 -

co-operative body set up by the Central Government also

purchases sarees of this place from the primary weavers’co­

operative societies- The primary weavers' societies sell the

products of their members direct to the customers, retailers,

wholesalers and mahajans whenever government institutions fail

to collect products regularly. The occasionally held handloom


shows like summer show, expo, fair etc. also act as a channel

point where co-operative societies participate.

(b> Physical distribuion functions : Physical distribution

functions of marketing consist of transporting and storing.

In Begumpur handloom centre the weavers themselves carry their

products to the houses of mahajans. The individual weavers

produce being very small they carry them manually. The mahajans,

of course, collect and store them and carry them to Calcutta or

different "hats” in large quantities by railways or by road

transport at their cost. Mahajans are not required to carry large

inventory for longer period , rather they do it for a shorter

period. Since they are in the habit of disposing of the products

regularly through weekly "hats" and by supplying to their regular

wholesale buyer in the Burrabazar market. They also can sell

regularly a part of it through their own retail shops.

The primary societies of Begumpur centre send their products to


the apex body at their cost and occasionally the apex body also

collects from the centre. The apex society requires to maintain a

large inventory for a longer period as they collect large

quantitites from different handloom centres throughout the state


-300-

and sell then through their own retail outlets throughout the

country.

(c) Facilitating functions :

(i) Standardisation and Grading : The standard specification

of Begumpur sarees is shown in the following Table :

TABLE NO.5.16

Standard specification of 'Begumpuri saree"

Variety Warp Weft Per I nch Finished Border


No. Count Count Warp Weft Length Width
(m) (cm)

i 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

BM-1 80s 80s 68 72 5.0 120.0 2/60s

BH-l(a) 80s 80s 64 68 5.0 120.0 2/60s

BM-1<b> 60s 80s 64 64 5.0 120.0 2/60s

BM-2 60s 60s 66 60 5.0/ 120.0/ 2/60s


4.6 118.0

Source :HooghIy Ziller iHasta Tant Si 1 per Sarbik Unnayane Nibir


Prach&r 0 Alochana Chakra - 1989 ( a cyclostyled booklet in
Bengali), Handloom development officef Serampvr.

The specification of counts, lengh, width,

border, warp and weft per inch have been mentioned in it. These

are ideal standard of Begumpuri sarees. But such standard cannot

always be maintained as the unskilled and trainee weavers fail to

attain the standard. The apex co-operative society does not

accept such sub-standard product and reject them outright. But

the mahajans normally accept those products at a lower price and

sell them cheap in the market.


-301-

Thls admixture of standard and sub-Btandard product of Begumpur

handloom makes a great injury to its fame and reliance of

customers on its products.


Within each standard category the products may be white or

coloured, plain or designed, designed with or without artificial


silk etc. According to this additional qualities products of a
particular standard category are graded. However, large part of

the Begumpuri products belongs to BM-1 (80x80 counts).

(ii) Financing :

Finance for marketing of handloom products is not required

by the majority of weaversj only the independent weavers have a

necessity for it for a very short while which the weavers

themselves provide. The intermediaries viz, the mahajans and the

primary co-operative societies have need for fund for conducting


their marketing activities. Both of them have access to

institutional finances. Inspite of best efforts the present

researcher failed to elicit information from them in respect of

amount of such fund required during a business year.

(iii) Risk taking :

There is risk in marketing any product. Handloom products

are no exception to it. The risks arise out of fluctuation in


prices, change in taste fashion and demand, competition etc.

(a) Risk of fluctuation in prices : The weavers, who In general

do not take part in marketing, are relieved of the risk of price

fluctuation. In the private sector it is the mahajan who bears

the risk. In the co-operative sector the major risk is borne by


-302-

the apex society (Tantuja) and other marketing societies

(Tantushre, Manjusha etc.) when they accept the entire

responsibility of marketing of the products of the primary

societies. Of course, if they do not collect the products at

regular intervals and if the primary societies take the

responsibility of marketing their own products they themselves

have to bear the risk involved.

(b) Risk of change in demand : This risk is always there in

marketing a handloom product. If the people who are wearing

Begumpuri sarees switch over to other type of handloom or mill

made products marketing of such sarees will become difficult.

(c) Risk of competition : No business can run without

competition. It is inevitable in marketing. The competition

exists at two levels- 1) between the products of Begumpur and 2)

between the Begumpuri products on the one hand and the products

of other centres and of mills and power looms on the other. No

body knows what type of products are going to be launched in the

market by other competitors. A mahajan tries to introduce a new

design or colour combination to the market anticipating that the

design or colour combination will be preferred by the customers.

The primary weavers' societies also make such experiments under

the instruction of the apex co-operative society and other

marketing societies who receive their products. But every body


does not succeed. Therefore, those competitors whose products do

not reach up to the satisfaction of consumers' taste, run the

risk of selling their products at reduced price. In addition to


- 303 -

design and colour, price is another factor in competition. If the

customers get the same product or slightly different product at a

lesser price they must shift over to that product. Owing to

abnormal increase in prices of any handloom products they may

switch over to mill made products. This aspect of marketing

requires some amount of elaboration.

Mill made printed cotton sarees and synthetic sarees are

available in the retail market at almost same prices or even at

lesser prices than the Begumpuri handloom sarees. Mill made

printed cotton sarees are much more comfortable to wear and

synthetic sarees are much more durable than Begumpuri handloom

sarees. They are fashionable and colourful too. If any one is

agreed to pay a slightly higher price for the sarees, Dhaniakhali

and Tangai1 handloom sarees are available to him. Therefore,

Begumpuri sarees faces competition from the mill- made and

handloom sarees of other centres. The plus point of Begumpuri

saree is its matching with the income level of the larger section

of the people because of its moderate prices and durability even

though colour does not remain bright till last and the artificial

silk used become loose with the ageing of the cloth.

A list of retail prices of almost same type of sarees from mill

and different handloom centres are given below which will help us

for comparison.
-304-

TABLE NO. 5.17

Retail prices of different sarees (at 1991 market prices)

Types of sarees Retail Prices

Mi 11-made printed cotton sarees :

a) 11 Cubits •• • Rs. 55
b) 12 Cubits •» • Rs. 65 - 140
c) Cotton Cottah ••• Rs. 110

Dhaniakhali Sarees :

a) 11 Cubits, plain border ... Rs. 70 - 130


b) 12 n n B
Rs. 90 - 110
c) 12 » *t (with blouse
piece) Rs. 140 -145
d) 12 Tf ft (naksa or de­
signed border) Rs. 135 -145
e) 12 tt « (jari border) Rs. 150 -165

Tangai1 Srees :

a) 12 Cubit, plain border Rs. 120 -130


b) 12 Cubit Santipuri Tangai1
Saree ... Rs. 125 -150
c) 12 Cubit Phulia Tangai1 Saree Rs. 150 -225

Begumpur i Saree :

a) 11 Cubit Eegumpuri SareeCwith


blouse piece) Rs. 100 -125
b) 11 Cubit ordinary plain saree Rs. 48 - 52
c) 11 ft ft Check " Rs. 54 - 60
d) 11 n n Naksha " Rs. 60 - 80
e) n n designed
11
check " Rs. 90
f) 11 " Katki saree Rs. 105 -140

Source : Bartaman (Bengali daily), -8 June,1991.

The table reveals that the the Begumpuri sarees are cheapest and

for that reason successfully compete in the market. To keep the

product competitive the thrust is borne by the weavers in terms

of lower wage level.


-305-

(d) Risk of Bad Debt : Mahajans sell their goods mostly ot» credit

basis, Cash is collected within a period ranging from 6 months to

1 year. The general trend is - greater the resources of mahajans,

longer is the credit period offered. There is obviously a risk

factor in collecting the arrear dues.

During survey sales transactions were found to be made by the

weavers" co-operative societies of Begumpur area partly on credit

and partly on cash basis. The primary co-operative society &

other (Tantuja, Tantushree,Manjusha, Bangashree etc.) and payment

is received by cheque generally after 6 to 12 months. Tantuja

makes payment partly by supplying yarn worth 50* of the amount

due and the balance 50* in cheque.

A small portion of the sales by the primary societies is done

with private parties <e.g. consumers, mahajans, retailers,

wholesalers etc.). All such sales transactions being on cash

basis no risk factor remains for collection of dues.

(iv) Market information : Mahajans keep close look on the taste

and fashions of the customers and change designs and colours of

the products accordingly. Our study reveals that their

entrepreneurship and innovative skill in this field are

excellent. It is the mahajan who pays frequent visits to the

weekly markets or 'Hats" and collects market information by

enquiries. They also keep a monitering eye over the latest

fashion and fad. Their practical experience accumulated over a


period also help them to percieve the future trend of the market.

Dealers in the weekly 'hats’ generally provide valuable


-306-

information to the mahajans about the market. When mahajans visit

different places for collection of arrears and for securing orders

they gather intelligence regarding the trend of the market also.

As in the case of mahajan, he himself collects information

regarding the trend in the taste and fashions of the consumers

from the wholesaler or retailer, in case of co-operative

societies the indents placed by the apex co-operative society and

others provide the opportunity to study market situation. The

products are woven as per specification of the indent.

2. CHANNELS OF DISTRIBUTION :

From the discussion in the % EXCHANGE FUNCTION 1 above we have

come to know that the products of Begumpur hand loom reach the

customers through (i) Private and <ii> Co-operative sectors.

Within private and co-operative sectors there are different

channels and varieties of intermediaries.

We summarise the various channels of distribution of handloom

sarees of Begumpur under private and co-operative sectors from

the weaver to the consumer :-


-307-

Private Sector Co-operative Sector

TYPE - I TYPE - I

Weaver Member-weaver
II I
I

l
>

Mahajan / Master-weaver Primary Weavers’ Co-op­


I erative society
« <
Who I 0S3.1 6T Apex Co-operative Society
I 8c other central
>
« marketing organisations
Retai1er I
I
l# I
ll Apex Society 8e other
Consuier marketing organisations’
own sales counters
throughout India
Il
ll
Consumer

TYPE - II TYPE - II
Weaver Member-weaver
II
11
Mahajan / Master-weaver Primary weavers* Co-op­
I erative society
II II
Retai1er Consumer
(at the society’s
Consumer sales counter)

TYPE - III

Member-weaver
1I
Primary Weavers’Co-op-
erative society
I «

Wholesaler/Retai1er
Consumer
-308-

T Y P E - IV

Member-weaver
I
I

Primary Weavers*Co-op­
erative society
l

Mahajan/Master-weaver
I
l
Wholesaler
I
l
Retailer
I
I

Consumer

TYPE - V

Member-weaver
i

Primary Weavers’ Co-op­


erative society
l

Consumer
(at expo, sales
shows etc.)

Weaver : Weavers are the persons who do the actual weaving. Most

of the weavers being dependent upon mahajans for supply of input

are bound to sell their produce to them. But the independent

weaver who procures yarns at his own capital is free to sell to

anybody with whom he gets higher price. But in reality he

ultimately sells to a mahajan of the local area. This has been

discussed earlier in this chapter while discussing 'Marketing

functions*. A weaver himself takes very little part in selling

the products. In the sample of 25 weavers* families under review

only one family makes arrangement for sale of his own products.
309-

TABLE NO.5.18

Mode of Sale of hand loom products by the weavers of


Begumpur centre

Mode of sale No.of families 56 of Total

To Mahajans 21 8456
To Co-operative society 3 12%
Direct to Market 1 4%

TOTAL 25 100

Source : Field survey.

The table shows that there is an absolute dependence of the

weavers (outside the Co--operative fold) on the mahajans for

selling their products. Actually the weavers have got no

alternative but to sell their products to mahajans as they

receive yarn from them. One family representing 4% in the table,

is able to sell directly in the market, as it procures yarn


" -/ f

independently from the market. One thing to be noted here, is

that even though the weavers are able to procure yarn from the

market independently, they sell their products to the mahajans,

because they generally get a ready market with them. They have

not to wait for money from the mahajans, though they have to

accept a slightly lower than the actual market price. Uhile

discussing 'PRODUCTION* we have seen that 44% of the sample

families procure yarn from the market, but only 4% is able to

sell directly to the consumers.

An intoduction of the intermediaries both in Private and Co­

operative sectors and their role in marketing is given below in

brief to have an acquaintance with them.


-310-

PRIVATE SECTOR

Master-weaver: A master-weaver is a weaver having specialised

knowledge in weaving. He weaves himself and employs weavers under

him. Sometimes he himself procures and sometimes mahajans supply

them with the raw materials for weaving. The basic difference

between a mahajan and a master-weaver is that the former is

basically a merchant and the latter is a weaver. A master-weaver

is partly dependent on mahajan and partly independent in respect

of sale. He is bound to supply the product to the mahajan in

respect of which he received input from him. As a matter of fact

the products of some looms are meant for mahajans and the

products of other looms are free for selling outside. The free

products are sold by the master-weaver of Begumpur in the retail

shops of Calcutta, Chandernagore, Chinsurah, Serampore,

Barrackpore, Burdwan, Durgapur, Asansol, Kolaghat, Bankura etc.,

and in the Mangla-hat and Harisaha’s hat. He sends 100-300

pieces of sarees per week to these retail shops. The family

members carry the products by train with the help of one or two

porter. The weaver who works under him often do such work in

exchange of his daily wage as weaver and something extra. Thus a

master-weaver sells his products


1) to Mahajans,
2) to the retail shops and

3) in hats through their own stalls.

The Mahajans in majority of cases pay the master-weavers cash

price for his products. The Master-weaver receives 2556 of the


-311-

price immediately of the current supply. The remaining price he

receives in instalments. For the next supply he receives 25% of

price in addition to a part of arrear. Thus the arrear

accumulation amounts to Rs.50,000-60,000 and is squared up in the

month of Chaitra (Bengali account closing month) and Aswin (the

month of festivals). Master-weavers have their stalls in weekly

hats (Mangla k. Harisaha’s hat). They sell their wares wholesale &

retail invariably in cash. Wholesale trade in most of the cases

is transacted with same set of. buyers. The master-weaver supplies

sarees to the mahajan two days (Thursday and Sunday) in a week,

goes personally to hats (Tuesday in Mangla hat and Monday in

Harisaha's hat) and arranges to send to the retail shops once in

a week in other than these days. He is found to bargain with

the retailer for higher price of his product. The retail shop

owners also do not want to loose his permanent supplier and a

settlement price is reached amidst bargain.

Mahajan : In Begumpur centre mahajans are at the top of al1 the

activities regarding the sale of handlooa poducts. The main

outlets of their products accumulated through weavers, master-

weavers etc. are : i) Big retail shops in and around Calcutta,

Serampore, Chandernagore, Chinsurah etc. 2) Mangla hat and

Harisaha's hat. 3) Wholesalers of Durgapur, Asansol, Burdwan,

Bankura etc. 4) Wholesalers of outside West Bengal such as,

Delhi, Bombay, Madras etc. The mahajans send the products to them

at their own cost by train, tempo or lorry as the case may be.

The retail shop owners are the permanent customers of the


-312-

mahajans. They generally do not check at the time of receiving

the product. They rely on the mahajans in this respect because

they know that mahajans check themselves at the time of receiving

the sarees. Besides mahajans always change the sarees if found

defective or damaged. The mahajans generally supply the retail

shop owners on credit and receives payment in two instalments in

the month of Aswin <Puja month) and Chaitra (Bengali Account

closing month). The retail shop owners also prefer to receive

supply from the mahajans to the master-weavers or other

intermediaries as they need not to pay money (25%) immediately.

The manner in which the mahajans transact business with retail

shop necessitates possession of good amount of working capital by

them since by-annually payments are received. Usually they meet

their additional working capital requirement from the family

funds and when this fund appears to be inadequate they collect it

by hypothecating their family-properties with the banks. Their

behaviour has proved them as good borrowers and banks have little

hesitations in accommodating their working capital requirements.

In the ’hats’ the mahajans have their permanent stalls where they

sell in the capacity of both retailers and wholesalers, that

means they sell in small quantities as well as in large


quantities. The big mahajans do not go themselves. They employ

persons to run the business at the hats. Their family-members

also sometimes participate with these people.

Weavers, master-weavers, wholesalers, retailers of other centres

from different parts of the country visit the hats and collect
-313

handloom products as per their requirements. They exchange their

views relating to these trade with others in course of their

business dealings. Here transactions are made on cash basis. The

customers are not always permanent - wholesale transactions are

made with permanent customers and retail ones with anybody who
visits the stalls.

Wholesalers of different places in and outside West Bengal


usually visit the houses of Begumpur mahajans once or twice in a

year and order sarees as per their requirements. Mahajans make

them weave by the weavers or master weavers and send them duly at

their own cost. Correspondence is made throughout the year to

keep a contact alive between them. Business is done on credit and

payment is made as per the terms of the contract.


From the above discussion it can now be stated that mahajans run

their trading operation at a scale larger than that of the master


weavers. It has been observed that some of the mahajans of

Begumpur have amassed large wealth within a short period of a

decade. The mistry of their quick success lies in the fact that

1) they get sarees against supply of yarns, ii) they make the

wage worker to produce saree on their own (Mahajans) looms and

iii) receive supplies from independent and master-weavers.

Wholesaler : In the distribution channel the wholesalers are

intermediaries who purchase bulk handloom products, store them

and sell them to retailers in small quantities. They are the

businessmen of Burrabazar (Calcutta), Durgapur, Asansol, Burdwan,

Bankura etc. and outside West Bengal such as Delhi, Bombay,


-314-

Madras etc. As mentioned above they visit the mahajans* house

once or twice in a year for collection of their marchandise and

make arrangement for sale to the retailers in their respective

areas. For collection of their requirements the wholesalers of

West Bengal visit the Mangla hat of Howrah and Harisaha's hat of

Calcutta where the master-weavers and mahajans of Begumpur area

also supply them with the handloom products.

Retailer : Retailers purchase in small quantities from the

wholesalers, mahajans or master-weavers and sell them direct to

consumers. Small shop-keepers of Begumpur centre, Calcutta and

its suburbs act as retailers. The hawkers and very small shop­

keepers of the nearby areas go to the weavers', master-weavers’

or mahajans11 house for their purchase; but the reputed and

established retailers of far off places get their supply at their

shop by those suppliers. They purchase both in cash and on credit

from where they get cheap but a set of permanent suppliers were

found to be exist. Bargain is made to reduce the price. Checking

for quality is made by the retailer at the time of purchase. The

mode of payment of the retailers are already discussed.

Of late with the increase of instalment system of buying and

selling a section of individuals have emerged as retailers

hawking in households, offices, school, colleges etc. of the


local area, Calcutta and Serampore. They are the people of local
area and sometimes outsiders also but not the members of a

weaver’s family. They purchase these sarees from the mahajans or

master-weavers of Begumpur in lots of 20-25 sarees. An initial


-315-

capital of Rs.2,000 to 2,500 is required to start with. Credit

facilities are often offered to them and in such cases only an

advance of say Rs.1,000 is sufficient and the balance is met by

selling the lot. The process is repeated while procuring the next

lot. They carry them personally to the places mentioned above and

get a ready market there as they receive payment in two or three

instalments. The establishment charges of such retail hawkers

being minimum they can sell the articles cheap. Of course, the

seller gets a greater margin of profit as they can eleminate a

few stages of the channel of distribution by supplying the

product direct to the consumer. The present researcher shared

experience with some of the hawkers who informed that 10# to 20#

bad debts are likely in such sale, specially in the offices or in

work places. The sale prices are fixed in such a way to cover

such losses. This is why they prefer to sell to the permanent

residents or permanent service holders with whom the risk of loss


is minimum. The purchaser is also benefited by the economy of

time and money. He is not to spend the total cost of the product

at a time and to roam about in search of his requirement. He gets

them within his reach. Sometimes the seller who visits at regular

intervals usually 3-4 times in a month provides the buyer with

the required quality of specific design as per previous order.

Such hawkers trade throughout the year but the business

transactions are large during festivals (i.e. in the month of

September, October and November ). The occupation of such hawkers

are permanent but during peak season (i.e. during festivals) new
- 316
-

young unemployed people are seen to enter the business with the

hope of seasonal profit and come out of it with the expiry of

such season.

It will not be out of place to mention here that in and around

Calcutta house-wives now-a-days are doing business with sarees in

their houses during their leissure hours. They receive supply of

sarees from wholesalers and retailers of Burrabazar area.

Sometimes they visit the big weavers or mahajans of Begumpur area

also to receive supply of saree of Begumpur. They procure variety

of sarees from different areas through agents. The buyers are

generally friends, relatives and known people. Such buying are

becoming popular among the ladies as they get a homely atmosphere

and cheaper price than at the market. Some of such household

businesswomen do some artistic colour painting or make some hand

print or embroidery work etc. on the handloom sarees and sell

those at much higher prices. For such work they employ girls

knowing the work.

CO-OPERATIVE SECTOR

Member-weaver : Member-weavers by virtue of their holding shares

in the primary weavers* co-operative society are members and

owners of the society. They are usually the resident weavers of

Begumpur centre. The society provides them with inputs and they

weave for the society. Virtually they have nothing to do with the

marketing activities of the society. A weaver-member works as a

member of the society when society provides him with work and

works independent of the society when he gets work from the

mahajan.
-317

Primary weavers Co-operative societies : These are the member

societies of the apex-co-operative society. They supply their

production to the apex society mainly. If the apex society fails

to receive the primary member societies’ product, the primary

societies search for other out-lets. In such cases they sell

their products to the private agencies such as wholesalers,

retailers, mahajans or direct to the customers. The decision of

the primary co-operatives’ executives are binding upon the

members.

Because of this background and duel roles of weaver-members and

primary weavers’ co-operative societies in the sense that they

use both co-operative and non-co-operative outlets, they have

been included in the channel.

Apex Co-operative Society : The West Bengal State Weavers’ Co­

operative Society Ltd. better known as TANTUJA was set up in

1954 for marketing the products of its primary member co­

operative societies. At present the society is managed by a Board

of Directors consisting of 13 members, of which are nominated and

10 are elected members. There are 1378 co-operative societies

all over West Bengal functioning as its members. It supplies

yarn to these members societies for production of cloth and other


handloom products procures them through out the year. The cloth

and other handloom products consist of normal handloom cloth,


Janata cloth, hospital materials like Gauge, Bandage etc. 'The

business of normal handloom cloth is carried on through its 174

showrooms scatered throughout India. The society is implementing


-318-

.the Janata Cloth Scheme Programme ( a subsidised Central

Government Scheme ) most faithfully with a view to arrange supply

of cheaper varieties of cloth to the economically backward

classes. It achieved its production target of 48 million Sq.

metres during 1990-91, thereby providing regular employment to

about 11,000 weavers families. The marketing of Janata cloth is

done through its retail outlets in West Bengal, appointed

dealers, wholesale consumers’ co-operative societies and M.R.

shops. The business of hospital materials like Gauge and Bandage

is carried on mainly with the Central Medical Stores and district

level hospitals.’

The apex society has 14 procurement centres (as in 1990) for both

normal and Janata cloths in Calcutta and different places of West

Bengal. The primary member Co-operatives bring their produce to

these centres and the apex society accepts them after checking

that the products satisfy the quality standard. The procurement

price varies according to the type of the product. The normal

hand loom products are procured at cost plus 896-956 from the

primary member societies.

The apex society makes arrangement for sale through 174 show
t

rooms situated in different places of West Bengal and other

states in India. The society has no such showrooms outside India


but have arrangement with stores in cities of foreign countries

through which it markets the products under the brand name

'TANTUJA*. Different show rooms have variety of collection of

handloom cloth as per the demand or requirement of the respective


-319-

areas where they are situated. The showrooms or depot manager

time to time informs the society about the requirements through

indent. The sale price is fixed for the products adding certain

percentage over the procurement price. But this addition differ

for different fabrics. Normal handloom cloth is sold, we have

been told, at procurement price plus 30-35*.

The showrooms all over India are mainly on rental basis which are

run by the apex society itself. Some are on agency system. The

agent gets a commission of 2-3% on sales. The stock liability of

such showrooms are of the apex society. Again few other show

rooms are run by agency on bank guarantee system. Here the agent

gives a bank guarantee of the stock to the society and manges the

business himself. Here the commission Is higher (10* on sales).

One thing which is common to all types of showrooms is the

outward appearance and decoration of the shop. The customer can

easily identify the shop by the get up and furnishing of such

shop as is the case with the multiple shops. The number of show

rooms is steadily increasing as is evident from the fact that it

was 37 in 1976-77 and 174 in 1991-92.

The society holds exhibitions at regular intervals at Academy of

fine Arts (Calcutta), Prajnananda Bhawan (Calcutta), etc. and

participates in Expo at the national level to popularise its

products and increase sales. Design development, diversification

of products, (e.g. production of poliester suiting shirting

instead of traditional cotton fabrics), printed, cotton and silk


shirting, readymade garments, furnishing fabrics, Turkish terry

towel etc.) and export of its products outside India to Japan,


-320-

Singapore, Mauritious and Kuwait all aim at increasing sale of

its products. The increasing number of showrooms indicates the

growing popularity of Tantuja. The rebates on handloom products

also acted as a boost to sale. These rebates were given to the

customers for 60 days in a year at the very begining of the

scheme. Then it was reduced to 45 days and again to 30 days in a

year. The Handloom development offices of different states

arranged the dates as per their local festival or occasion on

which such rebates were to be allowed. This attracted a large

number of customes. The rebates allowed were re-imburshed by the

government. But owing to some irregularities and manipulation

such rebates and reimbushment has been discontinued from 1989. A

new scheme of rebate or allowance is introduced as Market

development Assistance or M.D.A. Under this scheme a showroom is

allowed to extend rebates to the customers on the basis of its

last 3 years’ sale performance. A percentage is calculated on

such sales and the rebate is not supposed to exceed the amount.

Any excess rebate allowed are not to be re-imburshed. The new

scheme, it seems, is directed to motivate the showrooms to

improve their total sales during a period and to remove the

possibility of irregular and manipulative activities that were

undertaken under the earlier scheme.

Though it was set up in 1954 till 1976 the society could not make

its presence felt in the handloom industry, but since then it has

experience an spectacular growth in all its areas of activities

as will be evident from the table below :


-321-

TABLE NO.5.19

Growth of The West Bengal State Handloom Weavers’ Co-operative

Society Ltd. ( TANTUJA )

Year No. of No. of No. of No. of Total


member weavers show­ employees Turn­
societies getting rooms engaged over
sustained (in crores)
employment Rs.

1976 - 77 351 10,000 37 230 2.35

1977 - 78 532 22,000 46 240 5.24

* X X X X *
X * X X X X

1983 - 84 835 67,000 110 758 25.85

1984 - 85 891 74,000 119 782 28.85

1985 - 86 983 90,000 125 914 36.35

1986 - 87 1085 1,00,000 134 1080 38.35

1987 - 88 1132 1,00,500 166 1140 43. 14

1988 - 89 1198 1,01,900 167 1150 47.70

1989 - 90 1220 1,08,700 172 1177 60.09

1990 - 91 1268 1,10,700 173 1300 65.84

1991 -92 1378 1,16,200 174 1300 42.00

Source : Tantuja Bhawan (city office), Salt lake, Calcutta.

From 1976-77 through 1990-91 there has been continuous growth in

total turnover. From 2.35 crores of Rupees it has increased to

65.84 crores of rupees -a rise of about 2,700% in 15 years. This

phenomenal growth in turnover appears to be doubtful but we have

no data to check the figures provided by Tantuja. Our probable

explanation may be steep rise in prices during the intervening


A TANTUJA AD

Regular or rare-
elegant everywhere ,

ABC/T/103V89

HTtjCJlOOm Pol^5tPf Jjr'i'fO'V J'lr> : M


-322-

period. But in 1991-92 there has been a set back in turnover in

comparison with the previous year’s figure. The organisation

(TANTUJA) could not give any satisfactory explanation of it.

Tantuja and Begumpur hand loom centre : As a normal part of its

activities Tantuja maintains its relation with Begumpur centre

through its member co-operative societies. It supplies them with

yarn and process the products through its procurement centres. As

the apex society fails to put sufficient indent on the primary

societies the weavers remain unemployed for a certain part of the

year and during this period of unemployment they work for their

local mahajans. It can now be concluded with almost certainty

that the apex society has failed to free completely the weavers

of Begumpur centre from the cluches of the mahajans but has

brought some relief to them. Weavers who are under private sector

(about 75-80%) usually take yarn from the mahajans and return

their products to mahajans after weaving. Mahajans generally

accept the whole of•the produce from the weavers and the weavers

do not feel any difficulty in disposing of their production.

Apparantly the weavers are relieved of the responsibility of

selling their product but in fact they depend helplessly on the

mahajans for the sale of their product. They require immediate

cash to meet their daily needs and even a small time-lag between

production and marketing puts the weavers into much financial

hardship. The mahajans take advantage of their distress and buy

their products cheap. The weavers are almost compelled to accept

the price which mahajans are ready to pay. Now it Is the


-323-
responsibility of the mahajans to make arrangement of sale of

these products. So they keep a close look into the choice of the

consumers and make changes in design from time to time. They

generally sell these products to the owners of big or small

stores in Calcutta (Burrabazar), at Hang la hat (Howrah),

Harisaha’s hat, Calcutta) and at different markets in and outside

West Bengal. Thus 'the mahajans are in a position to assert an


indirect but oligopolistic control over the entire production and

market mechanism in handloom sector.’ (8)

To the outside viewer mahajan appears to be a marketing problem;

taking advantage of the current situation they dominate over the

market and get opportunity to exploit the weavers. But the

weavers are so much habituated with the mahajani-system that they

do not even feel that they (Mahajans) are the problems of the

industry. Out of the 25 families of weavers in Begurapur centre

only 2 families identified that 'mahajani system’ is a problem of


the industry.
TABLE NO.5.20

Identification of Problem of Mahajani system by the


sample families of Begumpur Centre

Responses No.of fami lies Percentage

Yes 2 8%

No . 23 92ft

1gnorant - -

Total 25 100ft

Source : Field survey.

(8) Abanti Kundu, op. cit. p.24


-324-

Under co-operative sector the member weavers get raw materials

from the primary weavers’ co-operative societies and supply

finished products back to them- The primary weavers’ co­

operatives of the area supply them to apex co-operative society.

The apex society send them to the different sales counter of

their own through out India and consumers can buy them from those

sales counters (Type I Channel of distribution). Here one thing

is to be mentioned that Begumpuri sarees are not made 'export

quality’ hence marketing agencies do not send them to their

emporia situated outside India.

Maximum products of the primary weavers’ societies are received

by the apex society and other government marketing agencies but

sometimes they fail to accept and the primary societies are

compelled to sell their products to the wholesalers, retailers,

mahajans or direct to the consumers of the area. Mahajans and

wholesalers again sell them to retailers and from retailers to

customers. Thus different channels of distribution is formed as

depicted in the chart (Type II, Type III and Type IV).

3. PRICE FIXATION MECHANISM

The basic mechanism of price fixation of handloom products

used by a centre is hardly different from any other centre of

Hooghly, nay any where else. While discussing viability of the


industry in chapter IV we have shown how consumer prices of

handloom products of different centres of Hooghly are fixed. Same

mechanism is used here. Ue have taken three types of fabrics

which are commonly produced in this centre to illustrate the same.


-325-
TABLE HO. 5.21

Fixation of per piece consumer price* of various fabrics under


private and co-operative fold in Begumpur.

Grey Plain Co 1oured Coloured


Elements of Cost
Bordered medium major
saree designed designed
saree saree
(80 x 80) (80 x 80) (80 x 80)
Rs. Rs. Rs.
PRIVATE : 59.00
1. Cost of yarn 59.00 59.00
2. Wages 18.00 26.00 29.00

Cost of production /
Acceptance price of 77.00 85.00 88.00
Mahajan

Add 25% profit of


Mahajans and Inter­ 19.25 21.25 22.00
mediaries

Consumers-Price 95.25 106.25 110.00

CO-OPERATIVE :
1. Cost of yarn 60.00 60.00 60.00
2. Wages 20.00 28.00 32.00
3. Other expenses 5.00 5.00 5.00

Cost of production 85.00 93.00 97.00


Add 9% Allowance 7.65 8.37 8.73

Collection price of
Apex society 92.65 101.37 97.00

Add 30% profit of


Apex society 27.80 30.41 8.73

Consumer Price during


non-festive seasons 120.45 131.78 137.45

Less 20% as Festive


season discount 24 . 09 26.36 27.49

Consumer price
during festive
seasons 96.36 105.42 109.96

Source : field survey.


* at 1991 market prices.
-326-
4. SALES PROMOTION

Mahajans to promote their products in the market adopt


personal selling technique and estab1ish c 1 ose contact with the
wholesaler and large retai1ers. They do never resort to
advertising. In recent times the state government has been
undertaking big advertising campaigns for hand loom products and

the mahajans are taking advantage of this. As the market for each

Individual mahajan is narrow and enmeshed in his market niche

they find little reason to undertake this promotional technique.

Generally the primary weavers co-operative societies do not

advertise for their products. The advertisement made by the apex

co-operative society, Corporations and other government agencies

in the newspapers, Cinemas, T.V.s, Magazines, Signboards, Neon-

lights etc. create demand for handloom srees of Begumpur centre

also. Thus the advertisement of these agencies indirectly help to

boost up demand of the products produced in various primary

weavers’ Co-operative of West Bengal.

To boost up sales of handloom products they declare rebates

(usually 10% to 20%) on the products of the co-operative

societies on various occasions (such as Durga puja, Id, Gandhi

birthday, Bengali new years day, etc.). Many customers wait for

these days to make their purchases and get the rebate. Of course

there is a misconception among many buyers that the prices are

fixed at higher rates and rebates are allowed afterwards

befooling the buyers thereby. But the idea is totally wrong

because the rabates allowed to the customers by the co-operative

weavers’ societies are re-imbursed by the central and state


-327-

governments. So there is no question of befooling the buyers. Of

course, it is true that these societies* production cost is higher

than that of the mahajans as they produce quality goods and offer

reasonable wages to the weavers. It has been discussed in details

while discussing 'Production*. Anyway, rebate allowed by the apex

co-operative societies help rise the sale of Begumpur weavers’


co-operative societies also.

As already mentioned the rabate system has been discontinued

from 1989 and a new scheme of sales promotion entitled as

Harket Development Assistance is introduced. It has been discussed

earlier at the time of discussing 'Apex co-operative society*under

'channels of distribution*.

5. MARKETING RESEARCH

Marketing research of a hand loom product consists of various

aspects. It may be carried on the product, on the buyer, on

distribution of product, on pricing, on advertisement, on sales

organisation, etc.

(i> Research on product : There is ample scope for research on


product of Begumpur hand loom as it faces tough competition from

the products of other handloom centres and mill made products.If

product of superior quality and higher standard are not made


available to the consumers at Begumpur handloom they will switch

over to other closely substitute product easily available at the

market.
In the private sector the mahajans keep close observation of the

day-to-day changes in the choice and fashion and make the weavers
-328 -

produce accordingly. They make experimental exercises in respect

of designs. They sometimes borrow the idea from old designs or

from other types of sarees or innovate from their imagination.

They sometimes consult expert weavers regarding the composition

of new designs.

In the co-operative sector the apex society supplies designs for

weaving to the primary co-operative societies. These designs are

chosen keeping in view the change in fashions and taste of the

consumers. Sometimes experimental pioneering designs are brought

into the market to mobilise the demand for the handloora products.

Government of West Bengal makes arrangement for introduction of

new designs through Handloom Development Offices. Artists are on

constant work for various experiments of colour and design in

this field. These designs are distributed among the weavers of

the primary co-operative societies. The primary co-operative

societies of Begumpur also get the advantage of such designs.

Competition among the weavers of such societies are held on

district level and the best weavers are rewarded for their work,

(ii) Research on buyer : Research on buyer enables the seller of

a product to know the right type of product the buyer needs. The

knowledge about the income, taste, choice''for a particular brand

or trade mark etc. are the subject matter of research on buyer.

Since the Begumpur handloom produces sarees of moderate cost it

suits the pocket of low income group of the society.

The buyer of Begumpuri sarees are traditional customers who use

such sarees for its durability colourfulness and economy. They


- 329-

generally do not shift to other products. In this age of

changing fashions,, the mahajans, in the private sector, make

constant product re-orientation by making variations in designs

and colour combination to keep these buyers attractive to

Begumpuri sarees and try them not to switch over to other product
by keeping the price low. In co-operative sector apex co­
operative society instructs the primary co-operative societies to

make necessary change in the product keeping pace with the change
in buyers’ requirements.

(iii) Research on distribution : The channels of distribtuion as

described earlier shows different ways though which a hand loom

product reaches from the poducer to the consumer. We have

seen that sometimes it takes shorter route and sometimes longer


to reach a product from the producer to the consumer. At regular

interval research should be carried on to minimise the cost of

distribution of product to enable the consumer to get the product

at minimum price.

(iv) Research on pricing : The main object of research on pricing


is to enable the consumer to get the product at lowest possible

price. This will help to attain success in selling a product in

a competitive market.
The mahajans of Begumpur area keep a constant eye on the price

trend of the competitive products. Befitting with the product


quality (viz. durability and coarseness) they continuously

endeavour to keep the price level lower. This is done by

resorting to either wage reduction or putting less yarn or a


-330-

combination of the two. The primary societies of the centre are

less concerned with the issue when they are producing for the

apex societies but is concerned when they produce for


outside sale.

On other areas of marketing research no steps have till now been

undertaken for this centre. It may now be concluded that apart

from "Research on product* as described above no specific

marketing research is done either by the private or by the co­

operative sector for this centre separately. Though the state

government is concerned with the well being of the co-operative

sector its agencies carry marketing researches for hand loom at


the state level and as such each centre of handloom industry in

the state is not dealt with separately. Of course the co­

operative sector of Begumpur receives the benifits of the

researches made at state level through the apex co-operative

societies and Handloom development office at Serampore.

Method of Marketing Research

There are various methods of marketing research such as :

1. Questionnaire or Survey Method,

2. Observation Method, and

3. Experimental Method.
In Questionnaire or Survey method information is collected

through personal interview, telephonic interview, panel interview,


mail survey etc.
In "observation method* Information is collected through

observing the situation of the market, the buying habit of the


-331-

consumer, the changes in the fashion and demand, policy of the


competitors etc. The success of this method depends upon the

experience and intution of the person making such research.

The 'experimental method' is related to issues that are amenable

to laboratory tests. This method is not applicable to the present

situation.
In Begumpur, as we have mentioned, observation method of
Marketing Research are exercised to some extent by the mahajans

in private sector. In the co-operative sector the State and

Central Government agencies initiate such researches at macro

level and the result obtained therefrom are parcolated through

the apex and primary co-operative societies.

Marketing problems of Begumpur centre consist mainly of the

fo11 owing :
<1> Competition from mill, powerloom and other handloom producing

centres,
(2) Weak infrastructural base for marketing and distribution,

(3) Absence of marketing research,

(4) Uncertainty of acceptance of primary weavers' co-operatives'

products by the central marketing agencies,

(5) Increase in the retail price of the products owing to longer

chain of the channel of distribution.


The responses of the sample families of Begumpur centre are

summarised in the following table with comments thereafter.


-332-

TABLE NO.5.22

Harketlng problems in Begumpur hand loom centre

SI •No. Problems Responses of No.of families

Yes No Indifferent/
Ignorant

1. Competition from mill, power 9 16


loom and other hand loom (36) (64)
producing centres

2. Weak infrastructural base for 9 16


marketing and distribution (36) (64)

3. Absence of marketing research 20 5


(80) (20)

4. Uncertainty of acceptance of
primary weavers’ co-operatives ' 3 22
products by the Central (12) (88)

5. Increase in the retail prices


of the products owing to longer 4 21
chain of the channel of (16) (84)
distribution.

Source : Field survey


Note : Figures in the Parentheses indicate percentages.

In case of item Nos.(l), (2) and (5) majority of the weaver

families are indifferent. From the structural position of the

weavers it is not expected that they will be much informative

about the nature of the problem. So we resorted to the mahajans

and traders who seem to be more conversant about them and through

discussion we have felt that these problems exist. In respect of

item No. (3) the weavers families are the right source of

information and their responses confirm the existence of the

problem. Regarding item No.(4), three families (12%) working


-333-

under co-operatives identify the problem of uncertainty of

acceptance of the societies’ products by the central marketing

agencies. Others (8890 being outside the co-operative fold are

hardly aware of the problem and are ignorant about it.

SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS OF WEAVERS’ FAMILIES IN BEGUMPUR CENTRE :

Our discussion on handloom industry of Begumpur centre will

remain incomplete if we ignore the socio-economic status of the

weavers’ families of the area. The following paragraphs have been

devoted to this end and the information obtained regarding 25

sample families of the area from field survey have been utilised

in making such an analysis.

i. Size and composition of the family :


More than 5 persons on an average consisting of husband,

wife, children and parents make a weaver’s family here. A few

joint families consisting of 7, 9 and 13 members are also found,

(vide Table No. 5.23 ). The minimum and maximum number of


members in a family in our sample are 2 and 13 respectively.
About 55% of the total population of the 25 families are male and

about 45% are females and about 82% adult and 18% minor.

2. Income :
In addition to the handloom activities some of the households
derive a part of their income from other souroes. In our sample

out of 25 families, 21 families (84%) have no other source of

income. They depend solely on weaving. 4 families among loom­

less weavers sometimes try to find out other sources of income


-334-

by vending nuts near local cinema houses and doing such other

snail trades. One of them has a small stationery shop and another

has a small blacksmith shop. But the income from such activities

appears to be very low. So majority of families have no other

souroe of income than weaving.

Income from weaving varies from weaver to weaver as per his

working status (viz., independent weaver, weaver working under

Master weaver/mahajan, weavers under co-operative fold or loom­

less weavers), age, health, skill, working condition, design and

texture of cloth woven, counts of yarn used, types of looms and

accessories utilised and a host of other factors. Income also

fluctuates in different months of a year during brisk and slack

seasons. Though the individual earning is important in case of

weaving the income of other members in the family is no less

important as the total income shapes the budget and thus deserve

greater emphasis. Therefore, an attempt has been made to collect

information regarding average monthly earnings of the families

under study of the centre. Special care has been taken to avoid

underestimation of Income level and to obtain correct and

reliable information.

The average monthly income of the weaver’s family from weaving as

well as other sources and monthly per capita income of the

members of such a family is shown in the following table as per

1991 price level.


C
M< N
N<

H-ocDoo-virocnfrcoN) H»OCDOO'Njd)Cn4>Ci)M
co ^ in

No.
SI.
M M W O N J M M M M O N J M C d M O O ^ O M i- O M C n i- C i) M

owned
Total No.
co
00<t<CDCS)-<l-r^<N os
0)>j-Jcn>>cncncnN)cncncD->icnci)-> n
c
of looms 1 From
cn C
O
in

Source : Field Survey


0 0o0cn0o0-«(JN
1 1)p0cn0 o0>0cn0o0cn0 o0cn0 o0cn0 o oo oo ioo wo ino oiooo
Weaving

17,235
•H
D
C

arithmetic average.
in in
1 I i i i w
l I I

u
o o o
oo

looms are excluded. J


Average monthly income of weavers*
-335-

Sources
From other
Average monthly income
TABLE NO.5.23

0) os
oo 01
*
0) -j -J
cn-i»-4»-cncncno)cncncD->iO)0)>Ci)^4 > o Ci)
§ cn cn >^N)Ocnoocnocnocnocncncn cn o cn p cn
in o
o

[ Note t 1. Minors are treated as half adult.


oo
Total

o o o ocnooooooooooooo o o o o

z
w > -^w cn 4 » .cn c> 3 'J4 > ‘ C n cn co c3 )> M « C i)C i)^ cn > cj)y i-sj o
in in u 0)
cn ui

130
cn cn cn cn
No. of

family

members

1
I
5

-H -
»l•H M
00 D
C os
per

O in 0)
§ -JO)-siK-000030lN^CnH ‘03>'H'CON tn
head

in to <t 0)
cncncnootn-jfoooocDONO^cnoH-

3. Only working looms are taken into account and idle


2. Figures in column 7 have been arrived at by simple
income
families in Begumpur centre

*
*J MON) O K (j)O O O « lffl0 iO 0 t® O (n O > U C i>
Monthly

(column

Cl) 5 cn O 4 > ® O O O 0 ) ( D O O ' i ® O O O > 0 0 O W


6)

135.35
-336-
From the table above it is clear that majority (84%) of weavers

have no sources of income other than weaving. Other sources can

contribute only a small figure ranging between Rs.50 and Rs.150


per month to the total family inoome. The lowest per head

monthly income is Rs.60 and highest per head income per month is

Rs.269.23. The causes of low income of weavers include low wage-

rate, production of coarse variety, use of age old technology,

low output, competition from mill and power-loom sectors, etc.

In response to the question about the possibility and means of

increasing income, most of the weavers have expressed that

increase in income in the present set up seem to be impossible to

them. It can only be increased by exploiting the loom-less and

hired weavers by increasing the number of looms and getting work

done by them and by paying them less wages than they themselves

usually get from mahajans. It is to be noted that there is a

direct relationship between the number of looms owned and income

from weaving. Larger the number of looms owned higher is the

income from weaving and vice-versa. The loom-less weavers work

on looms of others possessing extra looms or work at the

societies meant for them.

3. Expenditure :

Five items namely (i) Food, (ii) Clothings, (iii) repairs to


looms and accessories (iv) Purchase of yarn and (v) family

ceremonies are mainly included in the list of expenditure of a

weaver’s family in Begumpur centre.


They take simple food such as rice, wheat, pulses, vegetables

etc. High protein food and non-veg food (fish, meat, egg etc.)
- 337-

are occasional.

They wear clothes which are barely needed for civilised people.

In summer the male can afford to arrange for a dhoti or gameha,

and the female for a coarse saree. In winter, the male wears a

shirt and a cotton wrapper and the female wears a coarse cotton
wrapper in addition to their summer dresses.

Repairs to loom and accessories are needed occasionally and the

weavers are required to spend for the same to carry on their

occupation. The cost of repairs is sometimes met by giving up


some of the bare necessities of life.

The weavers who carry on production independently are required to

purchase yarn for weaving. Weavers procuring yarn from co­

operative societies or from mahajans need not to spend on such

purchases. Of course, mahajans at times, provide the weavers with

part yarn. In such cases the remaining part is required to be

purchased by the weavers themselves. Such purchases entail heavy

expenditure which most of the weavers can hardly afford.

On enquiry it has been revealed that the weavers of this centre

take loan from their friends and relatives or sell their

inherited landed property to meet the expenditure of family

ceremonies (e.g. marriage, birth, death, etc.). They face great

difficulty in paying back the loan from their maegre income.


The expenditure on education is minimum. Of course, education

being free upto class XII the children of the weavers’ families

can manage to get education upto certain level.


Free government health centres and hospitals,Rotary health centre

of Begumpur etc. provide them with medical facilities free of


-337A-
cost or at a nominal coat. They have actually no capaaity to pay

for a medical practitioner’s bill for their treatment.

Expenditure on entertainment is almost nil.

4. Saving and borrowing :

With a meagre income nothing is left for saving after meeting

the bare necessities and occasional urgent expenditure mentioned

above. Therefore, savings is almost nil. On the contrary they

take resort to loans from raahajans, relatives, friends, yarn

dealers, professional money lenders, banks etc. for the purpose

of family festivals, purchase of yarn, repairs to and purchase of

new looms and accessories, repairs to house, work-shed etc.

Following is a table showing details of indebtedness of our sample

families in Begumpur.
TABLE NO.5.24

Details of indebtedness of weavers’ families in Begumpur

No. of % of Total Agencies period Purpose of


fami lies Total amount , to of
families of whom indebt- debt
debt indebted edness

Rs.
20 80% 36,500 Mahajans 3 Family
months festival,
C Yarn dealer to purchase
t Co-op.SOS. 5 yrs. of yarn,
C Profession- Repair to
c al money looms and
[ lenders, accessories
5 20% 6,500 { Relatives, Repairs to
l Banks, house/work-
l Grocers, shed,meet-
t Doctors, ing day to
l etc. day expend-
iture.

25 100 43,000
S= = = = = != — sr — -r r* — rr -1—

Source : Field survey.


-338-
The table shows that 20 families (8036) have taken loans from

mahajans and the rest (20%) from yarn dealers, co-operative

societies, professional money lenders, relatives, banks, etc.

Since 8096 of the families’ repaying capacity is so low that they

take loan from mahajan and repay the loan by working for the

mahajan. The remaining 2096 has relatively higher repaying

capacity and so yarn dealers, relatives, banks etc. are ready to


advance loan to them.

5. Types of Houses :
The weavers are living in the place through generations. No

immigrant weaver family is found. The houses also are inherited

and mostly are in delapilated condition. There are mud huts,

brick built houses with concrete roofs and without such roofs

etc. There is a good number of brick-built houses (6896 of the

sample) in the centre. New houses are being built with bricks and

not with mud. Calcutta being nearer the effect of city civilisa­

tion may be the cause of such type of buildings. Following is a

table showing the types of dwelling houses of the sample families

in Begumpur centre.
TABLE NO.5.25

Weavers’ dwel1ing houses in Begumpur centre

Types of dwelling houses No.of families Percentage

Hud huts 8 32
Brick built but without
concrete roofs 10 40

Brick built with concrete


roofs 7 28
Total : ~25 100

Source : Field survey.


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The dwelling places of weavers in Begumpur centre mostly (64fc>

consist of two rooms which are used both as residence and working

place. The following table contains information regarding number

of rooms available to weavers’ families.

TABLE NO.5.26

Number of rooms available to weavers’fami1ies in Begumpur centre

No.of rooms in a house Families with a parti- %


cular no.of rooms

1 3 12

2 16 64

3 4 16

4 2 8

5 0 0

Total : 25 100

Souroe : Field survey.

Looms are installed within any room or at the varandah in front

of a room. Generally no seperate work-place is found. These rooms

accommodate 5 persons on an average (average family size of the


centre is 5.2). In cases of larger joint families which are also

found in the centre more rooms are built to accommodate the

family members.
Whatever may be the types of houses the outward appearances of
them show that repair work are not undertaken for a long period.
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Dampy, unhealthy situation of the rooms and unhygienic sanitary

conditions prove to be the breeding grounds of many diseases.

6. Caste and Religion :

All the weavers’ families in our.sample in Begumpur centre are

Bengali Hindus.

Most of the families are 'Tantubay’ by caste. Other castes such


as Brahmin, Kayastha, Barujibi, Sadgope, S.C., S.T. etc. are also

present among the weavers.

7. Education :

The formal educational level of the heads of the families and

elderly people in the weavers’ families in our sample in Begumpur

is upto class four standard or primary school level. The younger

generation, of course, are getting better facilities for

education than their parents got. The government has made

education free upto class XII. The attitude of the society

towards education has changed. People of this centre including

the weavers have realised that illiteracy is a curse. The boys

and girls are seen to go to school regularly. The children in our

sample weavers’ families are getting education but the number of

drop outs in the middle is also alarming. About 30% of the


children of the families are found to leave education at class
VIl or VIII level. The causes of such discontinuance of studies

are pecuniary difficulties, requirement of their services as


helping hands, uncertainty of getting other type of job having

qualified themselves in school education, etc.


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Out of 25 families we have found graduate young boys and girls in

3< families (12#), Higher secondary passed in 3 families (12#),


Madhyamik (class X) passed in 5 families (20#) and below class X
in 14 families (56*).

Apart from general education, none in our sample family-members


received technical training or degree in weaving owing either to

simple ignorance or to absence of suitable opportunity.

8. Social Mobility :

With the advancement of time the tradition of taking up caste-

occupation is a concept of by-gone days. Now anybody can enter or

move out of the occupation any time and take up any other means

of livelihood. Our survey results show that cent per cent of the
younger generation in the weavers’ families do not like to take
up weaving as occupation. The experience of hardship of earning

the livelihood through this occupation make them averse towards

weaving. Those youngsters who are intelligent and have shown

excellence In Madhyamik level (class X) carry on further

education in anticipation of getting white col lor jobs. But in

most of the cases their wishes remain unfulfilled owing to

employment squezee in the country. Though many are attitudinally


prepared to move out of the caste occupation, situation compelIs

them to stick to it. Again there are others who learn trades in
the tailoring, carpentry, electric repairing, repair of radio,

tape-recorder, T.V. etc. On the whole there is an eagerness of

shifting from the occupation of weaving to other occupations. On

the contrary it has been observed that some people from other
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castes (Such as, Brahmin, Muchi (Cobbler), Hari, Dule, Goala

(milk-man) etc. last four belong to backward classes) are showing

interest in weaving as it can be done sitting at home and are

taking up this occupation as part-time basis to supplement their

income.