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We had a very successful Clothes Donation Drive. We would like to extend a Special Thanks to all those who donated winter clothing.
Our target group were Handloom weaving families, which were either economically below the government prescribed poverty line or were widows who have lost their male earning members. These widows are barely making ends meet and in addition facing harsh social and economic realities. All these families have a minimum of 5 feeding members.
The winter season in this region of Barabanki is specially harsh and the temperature tends to drop down to 2 degrees every year. Due to inadequate income from their profession, these families cannot afford any winter clothing or blankets, etc. Unfortunately deaths due to cold are an annual feature in this region.
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The seemingly beautiful countryside of Baragaon may look very calm and subtle but sadly the lifestyle of the villagers is deeply interwoven with hard hit realities of life. Besides a few relatively rich families, majority of the population belongs to the ‘Julaha’ community.
Julahas are a community of artisans who weave on handlooms. ‘Julaha’ is derived from the Persian word ‘julah’ meaning ball of thread, but over the years it has come to be used in a very different way in Uttar Pradesh. It is used to refer to lower caste communities (belonging to any religion) who take to their family profession- ‘weaving’.
As per statistics compiled by the Ministry of Textiles, the Handloom sector is the second largest employer in India, providing employment to about 65 lakh persons. However, the main problem lies in the fact that this is still an ‘unorganised sector’.
Focusing on 'Julahas' in Baragaon, Uttar Pradesh, we will discuss other forms of injustices faced by them.
From weaving to knotting neat ends (also known as 'addha') every member of the family is involved in completion of the product. It takes about 5-6 hours to finish one stole, therefore after a day's hardship they manage to produce a maximum of only 4 or 5 stoles.
They receive only Rs.5 per stole, hence a total of Rs. 25 per day for a family to survive on!
Problems faced by them
Caught in the circle of poverty and struggling to survive on the only skill they have acquired since childhood the Julahas in Baragaon are bearing the brunt of decline of the handloom sector. Today this has become a common feature of almost all Julaha communities in various parts of Uttar Pradesh.
However a distinct characteristic of the majority of Julahas in Baragaon is that they belong to the lowers rungs of Muslims caste hierarchy. Therefore they face inequality and discrimination on two fronts:
A number of problems and economic constraints stem out of the above stated problems.
Since textile production is now monopolized by automatic machines, the demand for handloom made textiles is almost negligible. Therefore, many weavers are forced to leave their low paying profession and look for additional employment to make ends meet. The men migrate to towns and cities; they work as daily wage labourers, etc.
Secondly, Weavers with no other income often can't afford to send their children to school. Without education, these children have limited options and often end up learning the family trade.
Thus the vicious circle of poverty continues.