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A weaver in Varanasi (Photo:ANI)
A weaver in Varanasi (Photo:ANI)

Banarasi sari weavers seek higher wages, urge government to promote exports

ANI | Updated: Mar 03, 2022 22:02 IST

Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) [India], March 3 (ANI): Banarasi sari weavers in the streets of Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency, have urged the government to take steps to provide higher wages and promote exports of their products.
Banarasi Sarees are part of the identity of streets of Varanasi. The weavers live in the narrow lanes in the Lallapura Bajardiha Madanpura areas. They want the government to take steps to promote their business.
Notably, the government is promoting this through the 'Vocal for Local' campaign; however, it needs to be promoted further. The weavers of the city expect assistance from the government so that the Banarasi saree does not vanish. If it happens, the weavers fear the business of the saree would come to an end.
Interestingly, the Banarasi saree is weaved in two ways: One through power loom and the other manually. The sarees woven by hands are said to be "pure Banarasi" which are costly.
Arif Ansari has been working as a weaver in Banaras for 40 years and weaves with his own hands.
Speaking to ANI, he said, "There are still 5,000 people who are doing this job. Earlier there were nearly 1.5 lakh weavers doing this work. Now only 5,000 have remained. This is because of the low income. We get a daily wage of Rs 100 after hard labour. The light Banarasi sarees are made in 15 days, and the heavy sarees take two months."
Talking about the government contribution, Arif said, "The government gives us the wooden stand that is used to weave the saree. If it breaks, we have to give 20 per cent of the payment and the remaining 80 per cent is paid by the government for a new one. We get the old-age pension. The government also gives us spectacles."
"Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has assured he would increase pension to Rs 1,000 after the elections," he said.
Putting forward his demands, he said he wants electricity to be free or at a lower rate.
"We want electricity to be free or at a lower rate. The weavers who make sarees on power looms are given electricity at a lower rate but we don't get anything. We want increased wages and money for medical purposes," he said.
Arif expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for celebrating Handloom Day once a year and said they are elated that handloom is being encouraged.
"Prime Minister Modi has appealed to the people to promote Vocal for Local. The government celebrates Handloom Day once a year and encourages it. We are happy that ever since Modi Ji became the Prime Minister, handloom is being encouraged," he said.
Mukhtar Ahmed who makes Banarasi Sarees on a Power Loom said, "We make one saree every day on a power loom. We get a low margin. We save only Rs 50 on a saree. We work in others' shops. If we work for the entire day, we get paid only Rs 100."
"Talking about Lallapura of Banaras, there are about 2,500 factories with power looms. We only want our wages to be increased. Owing to inflation, our wages do not get much. Nowadays it becomes difficult to run the household with Rs 100 a day," Ahmed said. (ANI)