The handloom weaving sector, particularly silk weaving, primarily based in rural India, has played a very significant role in bringing ‘pride of place’ to the Indian textile industry. It has also created a key source of livelihood for weavers and their families.
To empower and recognize the weavers from clusters in and around Arni, known for its distinct variety of silk and weaving style, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), in association with the Textile Sector Skill Council (TSC) and in partnership with RmKV Silks initiated the skill identification and development program – (RPL) Recognition of Prior Learning - targeted at weavers and their families.
The RPL programme under the Skill India scheme imparted education and training to the handloom weavers and their family members including children. This nurturing effect has improved and fine tuned the skill sets of the handloom weavers in production, quality and in various other aspects of handloom weaving also translating into enhancement in their ‘Quality of Life’.
Gaps in technical know-how essential for quality weaving has been considerably reduced.
Best-in-class weaving practices from the weaver clusters of other regions and states have been imparted with live examples.
Under this program, the learners need to study a minimum of 5 subjects, including one compulsory language and any four vocational courses in order to get certification. Interdisciplinary vocational subjects like production of silk yarns, twisting of silk yarns, dyeing of silk yarns, design development and entrepreneurship for handloom weavers are taught and their significance is explained to the participants.
The curriculum also covers essential topics like leadership qualities, communication and other soft skills, viz., teamwork, and safety standards.
The training is imparted over a three-day period. On completion of the curriculum, a certificate is awarded to the participants.
Thousands of weavers and their families in the Arni region have benefited from the RPL program.
RmKV has always put the welfare of artisans as their top priority and they set up the Arni Handloom Silk Park as a part of their CSR initiative to support the weavers, The main objective of the Handloom Silk Park in Arni is to promote products made of natural silk and to provide suitable infrastructure and processes and also impart training for weavers.
Arni is one of the main clusters for weavers and the Silk Park aims to provide means of livelihood for them and also empower them with skill development to enhance their earning capacity. Certificates have been awarded to over 2000 artisans involved in silk weaving industry through Textile Sector Skill Council.
The CSR initiative has been set up in accordance with the policies of the Government and it promises economic development along the lines of the ambitious “PRIME MINISTERS KOUSHAL VIKAS YOJANA”
The CSR initiative will also facilitate purchase of land to form silk industrial estate which will in turn promote silk yarn twisting, dyeing, handloom silk weaving and designing units and development of infrastructure facilities in the park.
RmKV along with CSIE and Tamil Nadu Handicraft Corporation Limited (TNHCL) are working on a project to revive the craft of weaving Pathamadai mats. While TNHCL has contributed towards the creation of a Common Facility Centre (CFC) and has offered support to upgrade technology, the objective of the support from RmKV is to introduce new designs, train and up-skill women weavers in the new technology and support them in marketing.
Pathamadai is a village in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu and is recognized as a famous site for silk mat weavers in South India. The craftsmen and women create handwoven mats and several other products and they have been awarded the GI status. Most artisans work individually and they sell their products usually through Societies that reach out to customers. Some however manage to sell directly as well. However they have not been able to show any increase in revenue and with numbers dwindling, most artisans have chosen other livelihoods. Hence there is a need to support the artisans and RmKV has joined hands with other organisations to provide the same.