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  Journal of Rural Development, Vol. 33, No. 3, July - September : 2014  309 A STUDY ON THE SOCIO-ECONOMICCONDITIONS OF HANDLOOM WEAVERS G. Naga Raju and    K. Viyyanna Rao*  ABSTRACT Handloom industry occupies an eminent place in preserving country’s heritage and culture, and hence plays a vital role in the economy of the country. Production in the handloom sector recorded a figure of 6900 million sq. meters in the year 2011-12, which is about 25 per cent over the production figure of 5493 million sq. meters recorded in the year 2003-04. As an economic activity, handloom sector occupies a place second only to agriculture in terms of employment. The sector with about 23.77 lakh handlooms provides employment to 43.31 lakh persons of whom, 77.9 per cent are women, and 28 per cent belong to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Handloom sector contributes nearly 15 per cent of the cloth production in the country and also contributes to the export earnings as 95 per cent of the world’s handwoven fabric comes from India. However, this sector is faced with various problems, such as, obsolete technology, unorganised production system, low productivity, inadequate working capital, conventional product range, and weak marketing links. Further, handloom sector has always been a weak competitor against powerloom and mill sectors. Against this backdrop, the present work attempts to make an indepth study into the life and misery of handloom households. It covers households located in select prominent areas of this sector. Journal of Rural Development, Vol. 33 No. (3) pp. 309-328NIRD & PR, Hyderabad .   *Research Scholar and Professor, Respectively,   Department of Commerce & Business Administration, AcharyaNagarjuna University, Nagarjuna Nagar- 522 510, E-mail: nagaraju_7g@yahoo.com Introduction The objective of this study is to examinethe socio-economic conditions of handloomweavers working in the sample area of Gunturdistrict. The study emphasises the issues coveringgender, age composition, social grouping andeducational levels, annual income and per capitaincome of the respondents, expenditure patternof the weavers, category of assets owned by theweavers, indebtedness, organisational supportfor financial assistance and possession of rationcards of the selected weavers. The need for yetanother study is felt only to highlight the factthat there has been no much change in the socialand economic well-being of the handloomworkers in spite of several initiatives andmeasures. Study Area and Sample Selection Guntur district is one of the districtshaving significant number of weavingpopulation in Andhra Pradesh. The districtoccupies fifth place in terms of number of weaving population and fourth place in termsof number of cooperative societies. It is also afact that many of the prominent weaving centreslike Addepalli, Bhattiprolu, Mangalagiri, Ilavaram,Repalle, Nidubrolu, Sattenapalli, Tenali,Phirangipuram and Chebrolu are located in thisdistrict. Against this backdrop, Guntur district waschosen purposefully for the present study and itintends to focus on the socio-economicconditions of handloom weavers, drawing asample from the major production centres inthe district.  Journal of Rural Development, Vol. 33, No. 3, July - September : 2014  310 G. Naga Raju and   K. Viyyanna Rao As per the official records of AssistantDirector of Handlooms (2012), in Guntur districthandloom weavers are found in 34 Mandalsonly. A two-stage stratified random samplingtechnique has been employed for the selectionof sample weavers. At the first stage, 13 Mandalsout of 34 Mandals were excluded from purviewof the present study, since they have weaverhouseholds below 100. Thus, 21 Mandals wereshortlisted for the present study. At the secondstage, 5 per cent of the weaver households wereselected for the survey from each of the 21Mandals. Details of the sample selection aregiven in Table 1.Out of 629 sample weavers, 68 (11 percent) weavers are independent weavers, 454 Table 1: Particulars of Sample Selection S. No.Name of the MandalNo. of Weaver Households Sample Size( i. e. 5 per cent)1.Mangalagiri5,9142962.Bhattiprolu1,426713.Repalle994504.Cherukupalli844425.Ponnuru436226.Tenali Urban434217.Sattenapalli379198.Chebrolu314169.Chilakaluripet3051510.Phirangipuram2121011.Nekarikallu2001012.Guntur Urban179913.Durgi128614.Tsundur125615.Ipur125616.Tadikonda114517.Pedakurapadu113518.Nadendla106519.Prattipadu103520.Machavaram100521.Piduguralla1005Total12,651629(72 per cent) weavers are working for masterweavers and 107 (17 per cent) weavers areworking as members of the cooperative societies.In pursuance of the objectives set for the study,primary and secondary methods were used fordata collection. Primary data were collected fromthe selected sample of weaver households inthe selected Mandals, with the help of a schedule.Data collected from various sources wereanalysed by using Statistical Package for theSocial Sciences (SPSS). Simple statisticaltechniques like tabulation, averages, percentagesand Chi-square test were employed to analysethe collected data.  Journal of Rural Development, Vol. 33, No. 3, July - September : 2014  311 A Study on the Socio-Economic Conditions of Handloom Weavers Table 2: Distribution of Handloom Weaver Households by Age Groups Age GroupCategory of WeaversIndependentWeaversWeaversTotalWeaversunder underMWsCooperativeSocieties18 - 35 yearsCount7491066Row %10.6%74.2%15.2%100.0%Column %10.3%10.8%9.3%10.5%36 - 45 yearsCount2811236176Row %15.9%63.6%20.5%100.0%Column %41.2%24.7%33.6%28.0%46 - 60 yearsCount2218552259Row %8.5%71.4%20.1%100.0%Column %32.4%40.7%48.6%41.2%Above 60 yearsCount111089128Row %8.6%84.4%7.0%100.0%Column %16.2%23.8%8.4%20.3%TotalCount68454107629Row %10.8%72.2%17.0%100.0%Column %100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%Note: Pearson Chi-Square value: 20.865, df: 6, Level of Significance: 0.002** Age-wise Distribution of Sample Weavers :   Ageis one of the important social factors whichinfluences social, economic and demographicsituation of any country. Age is an achievedcharacteristic in the life cycle of a human being.The position in a family or society or group andperformance of certain activities and alsoachieving some other aspects of life in thehuman life cycle are determined by age.   Theyoung age distribution of a population revealshigher rate of growth of population in thecountry.It is clearly evident that weaving does notappear to be a preferred choice for the youthbelow the age group of 18 years (see Table 2).Similarly, the percentage of respondents in theage group of 18-35 years is only 10.5 as againstthe national average of 49.1. Similar trend couldalso be observed in respect of persons in theage group of 36-45 years. Perhaps, this could bean indication for the migration of people fromweaving to other activities. The number of people entering weaving profession after theycross 18 years is also very low. Another startlingrevelation is that the number of people engagedin weaving after the age of 60 years is significant.Around 20 per cent of the sample weaversabove the age of 60 years are still forced tocontinue in the occupation for making a livingwithout retirement. From the chi-square results,it is clear that there is significant relationshipbetween age group and weavers.  Journal of Rural Development, Vol. 33, No. 3, July - September : 2014  312 Table 3: Distribution of Handloom Weaver Households by Social Groups  Category of WeaversIndependentWeaversWeaversSocial ClassWeaversunderunderTotalMWsCooperativeSocietiesCount47819ScheduledRow %21.1%36.8%42.1%100.0%Caste (SCs)Column %5.9%1.5%7.5%3.0%BackwardCount6444799610Caste (BC)Row %10.5%73.3%16.2%100.0%Column %94.1%98.5%92.5%97.0%TotalCount68454107629Row %10.8%72.2%17.0%100.0%Column %100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%Note: Pearson Chi-Square value: 12.543, df: 2, Level of Significance: 0.002** Gender-wise Distribution of Sample Weavers :  Gender is another important social dimensionamong handloom weavers. Distribution patternof population between males and femalesaffects their relative and economic relations.Weaving is one of the activities which has scopefor women participation. Distribution of handloom workers by gender in the presentstudy is dominated by the presence of males.The ratio between males and females stood at82:18. Social Grouping :    Indian society is broadly dividedinto different communities such as OCs, BCs,SCs and STs. Traditions and customs dependupon the community which in turn influencethe social fabric. Caste is an important socialvariable, especially in the present day Indiancontext. Communities are broadly sub-dividedinto various sub-castes and people are groupedas per the caste criteria.Distribution of workers by caste in thepresent study reveals that 97 per cent of theweavers belong to backward caste, followed byscheduled caste (3 per cent) (see Table 3). Thestudy area is dominated by the backward casteweavers, viz. Padmasali, Devanga, Puttusali, etc.From the chi-square results, it is clear that thereis significant relationship between social classand weavers. Religion : In India, religion plays an important rolein the social structure and people are influencedby religion to a great extent. Every religion hasits own norms and customs, which in turninfluence the social fabric of the society. It isevident from the present study that the weaverswho belong to the Hindu religion constituted98.3 per cent, followed by Christians to the extentof 1.7 per cent. There are no persons belongingto other religions in the study area. Educational Background of Weavers :    Literacyis one of the important social variables thatinfluences both social and economicdevelopment of a country. Education isconsidered the inner capability of man that G. Naga Raju and   K. Viyyanna Rao
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