This is an adaptation to the answer to the post submitted on facebook by a reader:
Some people say that handlooms in India are dying and the reason is the emergence of powerloom and MNREGA. I agree with them that there is an imminent
death of the handloom sector, but the reasons are different than what they site. Powerlooms and MNREGA are just alternatives they have for the handloom. The reasons are purely economic. One, switching of weavers from
handloom to powerloom is just analogous to our switching to smart phone from
your old phone for the simple reason that it is more efficient and productive. So
a weaver, when he finds that the product of a powerloom is not so much
different or even better from the point of view of the returns for his family,
he will switch to alternatives like any rational human being. Running a powerloom is not as as simple that one relegate the task to some less
skilled person. A break in powerloom whether warp or weft can ruin a whole
product for the simple reasons that by the time it is noticed and the machine
is stopped, a lot of picks have already gone by resulting in a patta or chira
as the case may be- of course I am talking about the primitive powerlooms
prevalent in our country without the warp or weft stop motions.
They also say that to protect the handlooms they are offering weavers twice the usual wages. However, their offering of double or even triple wages
help a little, as their baseline wages are so small in relation to the effort
involved that doubling or tripling may not help much.
Khadi sector is already diluted as the “amber
charka” is like a mini ring frame taking its inputs from the mill product-
roving. Only difference is that it has more defects and it is S-twisted.
Genuine Charkhas produce so little that it is only used on the national days.
feel it is our greed- the high profile elite consumers- that we let the weavers
stick to the handloom when they have much better alternatives including
powerloom. Let us not bind them into their age old professions for our greed by
throwing them with yarn subsidies and increments in wages which are abysmally
low as compared to their efforts. And they are realising that which is the
effect you are witnessing across all the clusters. We need to remember that
while business is talking numbers, they are also understanding numbers and
taking actions which are good for their survival. Lets not make them the slaves
of the handloom in th name of protecting the handlooms.
A worldwide known measure is the estimation of Carbon Footprint for a particular activity. Carbon Footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.
Measuring carbon footprint of textiles fibres involves the energy needed to make that fiber and then energy needed to weave that fiber into the yarn.
Interestingly Cotton emits 5.90 ton of CO2 per ton of spun fiber. The same values for organic cotton ( India) are 3.80 and 2.35 respectively. Thermal energy required per meter of weaving of cloth is 4,500-5,500 Kcal and electrical energy required per meter of cloth is 0.45-0.55 kwh and is independent of the nature of fiber. Processing of fibers, however, use a lot of chemicals and copious amount of water. Source http://timeforchange.org/what-is-a-carbon-footprint-definition https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/estimating-the-carbon-footprint-of-a-fabric/
Khadi means a cloth woven on Handloom using Hand –Spun Yarn. Handloom means cloth woven on Handloom using Mill-spun yarn.
Khadi cloth is generally
much more porous. This gives Khadi a soft and well ventilated feel. The
twist of the hand woven yarn is generally less than that of mill yarn. This
less twist helps improve its absorption properties.
Yarn spun on Charakhaa has a twist in the direction of letter 'S'. If we
twist the yarn in the direction of normal tightening of the right handed
screw, the yarn gets more twist. ( The mill yarn has an opposite twist in
the direction of letter 'Z').
Interestingly the count of Khadi is measured in km/kg or N/m. The general relationship between Nm and English count is 0.59 x Nm. Thus khadi that is sold in the khadi store as 250s count khadi is actually 250 x 0.59= 147s count, which is also very good.
Generally 1 meter of roving is converted to 20 m of yarn for Amber charkha.
It would be curious to know that one tree yields 1-2 kg of raw cotton. 40% of it can be used for spinning. As a thumb rule, from 1 kg of yarn of 40s count we can weave 7 to 8 sq meter of cloth ( of course, it also depends upon the reed and pick).
As a trivia, it takes 5-6 hours on Amber charkha to make a yarn required from 1 sq meter of cloth. One weaver family can weave about 200-250 meters of cloth per month.