Every year on August 7, we commemorate the Swadeshi Movement in the form of National Handloom Day. This year, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Union Cabinet Minister for Textiles Smriti Z Irani, took to social media to advocate and promote the use of handlooms. Soon the hashtag, #Vocal4Handmade, tweeted by the PM, started trending, with many ministers, celebrities and denizens flaunting handloom weaves. It not only highlighted the country’s rich legacy of hand woven textiles, but also helped promote a sense of solidarity.
On National Handloom Day, we salute all those associated with our vibrant handloom and handicrafts sector. They have made commendable efforts to preserve the indigenous crafts of our nation. Let us all be #Vocal4Handmade and strengthen efforts towards an Aatmanirbhar Bharat. pic.twitter.com/XD7cs9ES7F
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 7, 2020
Handloom can enrich our daily lives and surroundings in many ways; from clothing to furnishing to Masks in Covid times to wall hanging. Bring home handmade in India!
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) August 7, 2020
What was interesting to see was the use of handloom face masks. The hashtag, quite serendipitously, also ended up becoming a tool in the propagation of covid19 awareness. From fashion designers to actors, there was a surge in covid19 messaging as they made appeals to people to use masks in order to curb the spread of the pandemic.
— Krystle Dsouza (@krystledsouza) August 7, 2020
Crafts revivalists, activists and designers have long endeavoured to tap into this soft power, and in the past, we have seen national initiatives such as Khadi Diplomacy and Saree Diplomacy, which have helped India further ties with various countries. In a post-pandemic world, the handicrafts sector was among the worst affected. In terms of employment, it was the second largest sector after agriculture, as shared by designer Gunjan Jain, who has been working with the artisans of Odisha for over a decade. In previous conversations about handloom, she spoke about the need to treat artisans as equal partners and how handloom is a viable option for a greener environment.
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